Planetary Lake Lander Team Heads to Chile

Research scientist, Dr. Nathalie Cabrol and her team head to Chile to collect environmental and biological data in and around Laguna Negra to study how the Lake Lander probe senses its environment. Afterwards, the probe will come back to the US where the engineering team will start working on its “brain” (the adaptive system).

Project overview

Using Technology Relevant to Titan’s Exploration to Investigate the Impact of Glacial Melt on Past and Present Planetary Lakes

Ice is retreating and thinning worldwide. Glaciers and ice fields are expected to significantly shrink within a generation, and many of the lower-altitude glaciers could disappear during the next 10-20 years. The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC 2007) lists the Central and Southern Andes as particularly vulnerable. In addition to the societal impact, deglaciation affects ecosystems and biodiversity. Glacier retreat creates new lakes and enlarges existing ones, and accelerated melting rates subject them to interseasonal and interannual variability, whose magnitude and impact on the lower trophic levels of the foodchain have yet to be evaluated. As deglaciation takes place, seasonal and interannual patterns are disrupted and important questions need to be answered to improve our forecasting of the future of glacial lake habitats, ecosystems and biodiversity, including:

  1. What are the disruptions associated with deglaciation, their frequency, and magnitude
  2. What is their impact on metabolic activity, ecosystem, and biogeochemical cycles?  and,
  3. What is the response of glacial lake habitat, ecosystem, and biodiversity?

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