2015 Expedition to Lake Untersee, Antarctic

Posted on Thursday, November 5, 2015

Lake Untersee

With a surface area of 11.4 km2, Lake Untersee is the largest ice-covered lake in central Queen Maud Laud, East Antarctica. The ice cover on the lake likely persisted for more than 100,000 years. Two extraordinary features of the lake are a high concentration of methane and a high pH. The lake supports exclusively a microbial ecosystem. The lake water column is clear, with very low planktonic primary productivity. The floor of the lake is covered with photosynthetic microbial mats to depths of at least 100 m.

As part of the 2015 expedition, Dr. Lacelle and colleagues will continue to address questions regarding the structure and function of Lake Untersee’s ecosystem and lake ice dynamics. Also they will investigate for the first time permafrost and ground ice processes in the area surrounding the lake as well study geomorphic features which may provide clues into the effect of climate change. The results will be compared to those obtained in other polar regions (the Canadian Arctic and Dry Valleys of Antarctica), which will allow to assess the effect of climate change on low temperature processes.

Biography of Denis Lacelle

Dr. Lacelle is already internationally recognized as a leading expert in the study of Arctic and Antarctica permafrost. Dr. Lacelle’s research bridges geomorphology, the emerging discipline of geocryology, and the increasingly sophisticated field of Quaternary science. He employs a multidisciplinary perspective to study terrestrial polar environments, incorporating field observations and measurements with geochemical, geomorphological, and geocryological methods. His exceptional contributions to research and the training of students was recognized by the province of Ontario and the University of Ottawa with three prestigious awards: 2015 Ontario Early Researcher Award; 2013 University of Ottawa Young Researcher of the Year Award in Science and Technology; and 2013 Faculty of Arts Young Researcher of the Year.

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