Against all odds. A whole garden of giant “flowers” was discovered under the ice sheet of Antarctica

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Against all odds. A whole garden of giant

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The main condition for the growth of phytoplankton is photosynthesis, and it needs sunlight – based on this, scientists could not even imagine that giant flowers of microscopic life could flourish under the ice of Antarctica. But that's exactly what it is, writes Science Alert.

In a new study, a team of scientists from the University of Auckland in New Zealand installed 51 floats to measure during more than 2,000 dives between 2014 and 2021. Later, scientists collected all this data in 79 consecutive measurements and compared with satellite images that provided a record of the ice sheet.

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According to polar oceanographer Christopher Horvath, during the study they found that more than 50% of the area under the Antarctic ice is capable of supporting subglacial blooms , and small patches of open water allow light, and therefore photosynthetic life.

Scientists have come to the conclusion that sprawling phytoplankton flowers are hiding under plumes of floating ice in the Southern Ocean. The researchers suggest that the new find could significantly affect our understanding of the Antarctic marine ecosystem and its impact on climate change.

Giant phytoplankton flowers are expected to bloom under the Arctic ice as glaciers increasingly break into fragments become more seasonal, susceptible to warm water and thinner.

In the study, the scientists used floating buoys to measure levels of chlorophyll-a pigment and particle backscatter, both of which are indicators of phytoplankton. The scientists found that there was a significant increase in plankton growth prior to any seasonal ice retreat.

Note that there is some data uncertainty in this study due to the delay between sampling and recording the location of the buoy. However, scientists hope to correct this oversight in future studies. However, there is now strong evidence that life under the Arctic ice is flourishing.