The Antarctic and Arctic ice are severe environments, some of the most extreme on Earth and examined sterile places where nothing can exist. The investigation also explains that humans may be having an even more vital impact on levels of carbon dioxide in Earths atmosphere than an accepted sign from climate history studies of ice cores proposes.
There’s a microbial presence in polar regions, Redeker and his team mark in their paper, but determining metabolically active microbes indicating that they have enzyme-catalysed reactions occurring in their cells inside the snowpack is a hurdle.
Polar snowpack lives in harsh situations, with winds blending top and secondary layers of snow. The quasi-liquid layer on the top a snowpack can seep beneath, ruining a microbial habitat. And on top of all that there are the changing seasons, which expand and contract those habitats. This study of ice cores relies on the hypothesis that there is limited biological activity changing the environment in the snow during its transition into ice.
The research, issued in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, revealed that the composition of small samples of gas trapped in the ice might have been affected by bacteria that endure in the snow while it is being compressed into the ice a process that can last decades.
“The fact that we have seen metabolically active bacteria in the most pristine ice and snow is a symbol of life increasing in environments where you wouldn’t expect it to exist,” says head research author Kelly Redeker, from the University of York, in a press announcement. “This proposes we may be ready to broaden our horizons when it comes to thinking about which planets are able of supporting life.”
While the group’s paper recommends that “total impacts for any given compound are hard” to predict in the rough polar situations, it also suggests that “a diminished snowpack may be, to a small degree, responsible for slightly delaying the recovery of the ozone layer.”
Researchers also detected the presence of gases at part-per-trillion levels, one million times less concentrated than atmospheric CO2 concentrations.
The results of the study also suggest that life can be sustained even in remote, cold, nutrient-poor environments, offering a new perspective on whether the frozen planets of the universe could support microorganisms