Why is this Antarctic Glacier “Bleeding?”
Published – 04/16/2020 2:49 pm
Did you know that Antarctica has a glacier that bleeds red?
Five stories high and emerging from the Taylor Glacier in the Dry Valleys of Antarctica, Blood Falls seeps into an ice-covered body of water called Lake Bonney. It’s one of the continent’s most enigmatic natural features and has fascinated scientists for decades. What makes it red? Does it always flow? And can anything actually survive near it? To find out—and see just how bizarre Blood Falls is with their own eyes—Caitlin and Arlo travel to the Dry Valleys, about 60 miles from McMurdo Station. There, they meet with microbiologist Jill Mikucki and hydrogeologist Peter Doran to investigate why this glacier looks the way it does, what lives there (spoiler: CHARISMATIC MICROBES!), and what clues it holds for finding and understanding life on other planets and moons in our solar system, like Mars, Jupiter’s Europa, and Saturn’s Enceladus. Answering these questions, it turns out, requires lots of probes, cameras, and even a massive sensor hanging from a helicopter.