February 2021
Vol 7, Issue 8

About The Cover

Cover image expansion

ONLINE COVER Antarctica is home to over 400 subglacial lakes—extreme, isolated environments trapped between the bed and the ice. In order to evaluate how and where microbial life may exist within the lakes' subglacial depths, scientists must better understand their physical conditions. To investigate whether turbulent stirring may occur in these lakes, mixing nutrient- and oxygen- enriched meltwater from overlying ice to support biomes within the water column, Couston et al. performed a mathematical analysis, predicting the intensity and turbulence for encompassing the known range of Antarctic lake ice-cover thicknesses and water depths. The authors determined that most, if not all, Antarctic subglacial lakes may experience vigorous turbulent vertical convection. Couston et al. suggest that a similar analysis could predict dynamic conditions of deep subsurface oceans on icy moons in the solar system that could potentially harbor life. [CREDIT: PETE BUCKTROUT, BRITISH ANTARCTIC SURVEY]