Grant: $417,288 - National Science Foundation - Aug. 17, 2009
33% voted satisfied - 67% voted not satisfied - 3 vote(s) cast
Award Description: In this study, we will enter for the first time the main brine body below the thick ice of Lake Vida, east Antarctica and perform in situ measurements, collect samples of the brine column, and collect sediment cores from the lake bottom for detailed geochemical and microbiological analyses. The results will allow the characterization of present and past life in the lake, assessment of modern and past sedimentary processes, and determination of the lake’s history. This study will have as a guiding premise: An ecosystem exists in the main brine body of Lake Vida. This ecosystem derives its resources from ancient pools resulting from its prior coupling with the surface (e.g. during times of thinner ice covers through stream input, aeolian deposition and subsequent fallout through the ice, and in situ photoautotrophy). Within the context of this premise, five hypotheses will be tested: H1: Brine in Lake Vida is highly stratified, H2: Microbial life is active, at some level, throughout the brine, H3: The microorganisms in the brine and surface sediments currently employ cold-adapted biogeochemical strategies to maximize the resources available in this isolated, extremely cold and saline ecosystem, H4: The water column and sediments of Lake Vida contain physical and geochemical signatures of past microbiological activity and ecosystem shifts (e.g. from a photosynthetic ecosystem in contact with the atmosphere during periods of thinner ice cover), H5: The subsurface brine of Lake Vida was derived from seawater/local weathering products with subsequent cryogenic modification of salt concentrations. Intellectual Merit: This study gathers a truly multidisciplinary team to bring a new understanding to biogeochemical processes allowing survival of a non-photosynthetic microbial community isolated for a prolonged period of time. This research will address diversity, adaptive mechanisms and evolutionary processes in the context of the physical evolution of the environment of Lake Vida. Sampling and cleanliness procedures, derived from the teams experience in brine sampling, are already being touted as an example of how future field exploration of subglacial lakes may be done. Broader Impacts: Society at large will benefit from expanded knowledge of the limits of life on this planet. A thorough understanding of these limits expands our perception of the origin and evolution of life as we know it. Lake Vida may also be a model of what other dry valley lakes were like during climatic deteriorations in the past. Results will be widely disseminated through publications, presentations at national and international meetings, and through the internet at the Subglacial Antarctic Lake Exploration (SALE) web site as an affiliated International Polar Year initiative, and the McMurdo LTER web site. This research proposal will fund a minimum of three graduate students and three undergraduate research assistants. The investigators have a strong history of training women in the sciences, collectively 6 of their last 8 graduate students being female; four of those women have been involved in field research in Antarctica and one has worked on laboratory-based Antarctic projects.
Project Description: Funding started Aug 15, 2009 for this grant. UIC's role in the grant is very minor in year 1 and ramps up significantly in years 2 through 4. Financial activity for year 1 will not start until February 2010 with the first PI and planning meeting
Jobs Summary: n/a (Total jobs reported: 0)
Project Status: Not Started
This award's data was last updated on Aug. 17, 2009. Help expand these official descriptions using the wiki below.