If you think Antarctica is a solid sheet of white snow and ice, think again.
One glacier on the polar continent is red for part of the year. It has been that way for at least 110 years. And scientists think they finally know why.
Researchers at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks say the “blood falls” in the McMurdo Dry Valleys develop a red color due to oxidation.
The valley has a trapped lake, receiving only limited amounts of oxygen and light.
The lake contains brine saltwater with a high amount of both salt and iron. When water from the lake flows into open air with oxygen, the color of the water changes. It becomes rust-looking, then red.
Despite the cold temperatures near the South Pole, researchers say the lake has enough iron and sulfate to allow microbes to survive.
And LAD Bible reports because saltwater has a lower freezing point, the water can flow instead of turning solid.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration claims saltwater freezes at about 28 degrees Fahrenheit. Other scientists put the freezing point far lower, at -6 degrees if the water has the maximum possible salt content.
Getting a close view of the blood falls is a challenge. And not simply because you have to travel to Antarctica.
Britain’s Daily Star reports visitors have to travel by helicopter from the U.S. military McMurdo Station, New Zealand’s Scott Base or a boat ride on the Ross Sea. Only guided tours are allowed.
The falls aren’t red all the time. The peak of its color tends to be between July and October, which is Antarctic winter and early spring.
The Taylor Glacier with the blood falls was discovered by humans in 1911.
The post Antarctica’s ‘Bleeding Waterfalls’ Mystery Solved: Scientists Solve Mystery of Why ‘Creepy Waters Run Red’ After Decades appeared first on Knewz.
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Author: Richard Burkard
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