Biogeochemistry under the McMurdo Ice Shelf
In 2012, before moving to Subglacial Lake Whillans, the WISSARD team tested its hot water drill on the McMurdo Ice Shelf. We validated our clean access procedures, and were able to take the first samples from the ocean cavity beneath the McMurdo Ice Shelf. The waters beneath the ice link the Ross Ice Shelf (the largest in the world, by area) to the open waters of the Ross Sea. Understanding the biogeochemical processes that occur beneath ice shelves is increasing in importance, as we realize that those same shelves are at risk of collapse. Yet, few samples have been collected from beneath intact ice shelves in the Antarctic. I characterized the biogeochemical properties of the waters beneath the McMurdo Ice Shelf, and found diverse microbial communities that are dependent on advected material from the open waters of the Ross Sea. This work is published in Limnology and Oceanography.