March 3, 2011
Extreme Environment of Lake Vostok in Antarctica
Throughout the earth, there are so many places that are so extreme that we thought that no living things could adapt to the environment. Interestingly, there are some organisms that can inhabit in extreme environments, and they are extremeophiles, which are microbes that can thrive and adapt under extreme conditions. There are many types of extreme environment, such as extremely cold or hot, too acidic, lacking of water or light, and more. One of the examples of extreme environment is Lake Vostok in Antarctica. Lake Vostok is located on the Antarctic continent below the ice, which is measured to be about 4 kilometers thick. Lake Vostok is special and unique because it is the biggest lake in the world, and it has been isolated from the biosphere on earth. On July 21st in 1983, the temperature at the Vostok station was -89 °C, which was the coldest temperature on the earth at the time. On the other hand, the temperature of the lake water was around -3 °C. Interestingly, the lake water remains in a liquid state even though the temperature of the water was below freezing point because the high pressure from the ice above the lake which is 360 times greater than pressure in the atmosphere at sea level (Studinger). The pH level of the water in Lake Vostok is very low. Since the ice is enriched with hydrogen ions, the melting lake water turns to be very acidic (Bell). Under these extreme environment conditions, after many years, some certain organisms have been living and survived in these completely dark, cold, extremely acidic, and low salinity levels of water (Carsey). Furthermore, the sub-glacial system in the Lake Vostok gives the opportunity to explore the bottom of the lake. Based on the scientific research about Lake Vostok’s seismic activity in 1996, we can assume that there might be extremely hot water flowing occurring on the floor of Lake Vostok in Antarctica...
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