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Keep up to date with the latest news 2012

September 2012 – The countdown is on!  

At a Press Conference this week at BA Science Festival in Aberdeen Martin Siegert, John Parnell and Chris Hill talk about the countdown to one of the most ambitious scientific missions to Antarctica. In October, after 16 years of planning a 12-man team of British scientists, engineers and support staff will make the 16,000 km journey from the UK to go deep into the heart of the frozen continent to collect samples of water and sediments from an ancient lake buried beneath three kilometers of ice. Read more

Press Release 16 January 2012

Engineering team ‘Advance Party’ returns from Antarctica

A team of four British engineers has returned to the UK after completing a gruelling journey to one of the most remote and hostile locations on the planet to put in place equipment and supplies for an ambitious project later this year.   more

latest scientific publication

The Lake Ellsworth consortium has published a paper describing how the sampling of Lake Ellsworth can be undertaken with minimal environmental impact - Reviews of Geophysics: Clean access, measurement, and sampling of Ellsworth Subglacial Lake: A method for exploring deep Antarctic subglacial lake environments

8 February 2012

Lake Vostok Antarctica - Message from Professor Martin Siegert

On behalf of the Subglacial Lake Ellsworth consortium I congratulate the Russian team for successfully completing this important phase of their drilling mission to understand Lake Vostok and subglacial lake environments. We are very much looking forward to working with Russian scientists next year when they retrieve 'lake samples' from the frozen lake water within the borehole. In particular, we will want to compare direct measurements and samples from Lake Ellsworth with the Lake Vostok material, to understand biodiversity and environmental conditions beneath the ice sheets in Antarctica. This is an important first step in subglacial lake exploration, but there is much still to do. Over the next few years we will be developing collaborations with scientists from the US, Russia and other nations to comprehend these pristine, extreme environments.

August 2012 - Stage two of the mission to explore Subglacial Lake Ellsworth ready to be launched

As the team packs the remaining equipment for shipping to Lake Ellsworth Principal Investigator Professor Martin Siegert reflects on a mission that has taken 16 years to launch.  Read more

August 2012 - Drill kit begins journey to Antarctica’s Lake Ellsworth

BBC News Science Editor David Shukman reports on this daring project

August 2012 – No going back!  

Programme Manager Chris Hill shares his latest report.

As the Lake Ellsworth project team prepared the probe and sediment corer gear for shipping to site, it is fair to say that a good amount of midnight oil was burned. Over the last few months progress was steady, positive with everyone focused intently on meeting deadlines and preparing everything for the field season later this year.  Read more

News archive

Wednesday 12 December 2012       See latest photos and updates at EllsworthLive


British team set to access and sample one of the last unexplored environments on planet Earth    

This week (12 December) a British team of scientists and engineers realise a 16 year ambition to drill down through over 3 km of Antarctic ice into an ancient buried lake.  The team hopes to find signs of life in the water and clues to the Earth’s past climate in the mud at the lake floor. Read more

November 2013. Subglacial Lake Ellsworth – 1 year on

In the early hours of 25th December 2012, an attempt to explore Subglacial Lake Ellsworth deep beneath the West Antarctic ice sheet was called off. This UK project, involving the British Antarctic Survey, the National Oceanography Centre and several Universities, had been in planning for over 10 years. The ambition was to access the lake using a specially-engineered hot-water drill through 3 km of ice and, using the hole created deploy probes to take samples and measurements to look for life in the lake and acquire records of past ice and climate change. Read more

January 2014.  News article in Nature.  Polar drilling problems revealed in a report into failings of expedition to explore Antarctic lake.  Read more


Report into failings of expedition to explore Antarctic lake finds equipment to blame — but complications can be fixed.