As we in North America emerge from a remarkably mild winter, the brief and sunny summer in the world’s deep south is drawing to a rapid close. Antarctica’s days are becoming shorter, and come the vernal equinox the South Pole will enter into its yearly hibernation—six months of dusk and night. Researchers from Columbia University and elsewhere have spent these bright months bearing the chill in pursuit of access to a realm deep beneath the soaring, scathing surface of the glacier.
Russian scientists this week finished penetrating more than two miles through the Antarctic ice sheet to Lake Vostok, a huge freshwater lake that has been buried under the ice for millions of years. But they won’t know what they’ve found until next year.