A new ice flow map for Antarctica

The EarthArk Project’s goal is to send seed and soil samples from every square kilometer of Earth to a permanent deep freeze station in Antarctica. The collection of the samples will be done locally by students from every high school and college throughout the world and by adventure travelers to the extremely remote places. These samples could be used to restore the species of plants and other things which go extinct in the coming years no matter what the cause. Once stored and partially buried high on the mountains of Antarctica, where the subsurface temperature stays below 40°C, and there is no biologic activity, they should remain viable for tens of thousands of years, and perhaps forever. There are already existing seed banks, but they contain relatively few and mostly commercial seeds, compared to what The EarthArk Project intends to store, which is everything possible. Many tropical plants will not germinate after freezing of their seeds, but even these will retain their DNA, which hopefully could be used to recreate the species using future sophisticated treatments.

Antarctica Ice flow map

Antarctic Ice flow map showing two possible EarthArk locations.

NASA just released the First Complete Map of the Antarctic Ice Flows. The ice flows are critical to the placement of the EarthArks, because they complicate the stability of the containers themselves and make the finding of them much more difficult at some future time. The best solution appears to be to locate the containers on, or within, solid rock high in the mountains of the trans Antarctic range. The exposed rock of Mt. Tyree valley (-78.414, -86.00) can be considered a good location for an EarthArk. It is on the north flank of The Vinson Massif. These are among the highest points in the mountains near the south pole that have exposed rock and containers secured to the ground are unlikely to be swept away by glacial flows. Even better would be to sink mines into the side of the mountain and thus totally isolate the stored seeds from everything. Another promising mountain site at (-85.41,172.28) is even more pole-ward but Google Earth’s pictures show very little, but at an altitude of 10,000 feet and that near the pole it should be very cold and very dry.

There are many EarthArk posts but here is a good start.