Modelling the liquid-water vein system within polar ice sheets as a potential microbial habitat

first_imgBased on the fundamental and distinctive physical properties of polycrystalline ice lh, the chemical and temperature profiles within the polar ice sheets, and the observed selective partitioning of bacteria into liquid water filled veins in the ice, we consider the possibility that microbial life could survive and be sustained within glacial systems. Here, we present a set of modelled vertical profiles of vein diameter, vein chemical concentration, and vein water volume variability across a range of polar ice sheets using their ice core chemical profiles. A sensitivity analysis of VeinsIuIce1.0, the numerical model used in this study shows that the ice grain size and the local borehole temperature are the most significant factors that influence the intergranular liquid vein size and the amount of freeze-concentrated impurities partitioned into the veins respectively. Model results estimate the concentration and characteristics of the chemical broth in the veins to be a potential extremophilic microbial medium. The vein sizes are estimated to vary between 0.3 mu m to 8 mu m across the vertical length of many polar ice sheets and they may contain up to 2 mu L, of liquid water per litre of solid ice. The results suggest that these veins in polar ice sheets could accommodate populations of psychrophilic and hyperacidophilic ultra-small bacteria and in some regions even support the habitation of unicellular eukaryotes. This highlights the importance of understanding the potential impact of englacial microbial metabolism on polar ice core chemical profiles and provides a model for similar extreme habitats elsewhere in the universe.last_img read more

An interhemispheric comparison of GPS phase scintillation with auroral emission observed at South Pole and from DMSP satellite

first_imgThe global positioning system (GPS) phase scintillation caused by high-latitude ionospheric irregularities during an intense high-speed stream (HSS) of the solar wind from April 29 to May 5, 2011, was observed using arrays of GPS ionospheric scintillation and total electron content monitors in the Arctic and Antarctica. The one-minute phase-scintillation index derived from the data sampled at 50 Hz was complemented by a proxy index (delta phase rate) obtained from 1-Hz GPS data. The scintillation occurrence coincided with the aurora borealis and aurora australis observed by an all-sky imager at the South Pole, and by special sensor ultraviolet scanning imagers on board satellites of the Defense Meteorological Satellites Program. The South Pole (SP) station is approximately conjugate with two Canadian High Arctic Ionospheric Network stations on Baffin Island, Canada, which provided the opportunity to study magnetic conjugacy of scintillation with support of riometers and magnetometers. The GPS ionospheric pierce points were mapped at their actual or conjugate locations, along with the auroral emission over the South Pole, assuming an altitude of 120 km. As the aurora brightened and/or drifted across the field of view of the all-sky imager, sequences of scintillation events were observed that indicated conjugate auroras as a locator of simultaneous or delayed bipolar scintillation events. In spite of the greater scintillation intensity in the auroral oval, where phase scintillation sometimes exceeded 1 radian during the auroral break-up and substorms, the percentage occurrence of moderate scintillation was highest in the cusp. Interhemispheric comparisons of bipolar scintillation maps show that the scintillation occurrence is significantly higher in the southern cusp and polar cap.last_img read more