Untersee lake. Wohlthat mountains

Untersee lake. Wohlthat mountains Untersee lake. Wohlthat mountains

The Wohlthat Mountains are a large group of mountains located immediately east of the Orvin Mountains in Fimbulheimen in central Queen Maud Land in Antarctica. They were discovered by the Third German Antarctic Expedition (1938–1939), initiated by Hermann Goering and led by Capt. Alfred Ritscher, who surveyed an area between latitudes 69°10’ S and 76°30’ S and longitudes 11°30 W and 20°00’ E, totaling 600,000 km2, and called it Neuschwabenland, or New Swabia. Wohlthat Mountain was named aſter Helmuth C.H. Wohlthat, who as an economist and fiscal officer dealt with the organization of the expedition. Since 1960 the area of Queen Maud Land has been studied by scientific research teams from many countries, including the Soviet Antarctic Expedition.

One of the most fascinating places in this area is Lake Untersee (German: “Untersee” - "Lower Lake") - the largest surface fresh- water lake in central Queen Maud Land in East Antarctica. It is approximately 6.5 km long and 2.5 km wide, with a surface area of 11.4 km2, and a maximum depth of 169 m. The water temperature varies between 0.5° C and 5° C, and the ice cover on the lake is 2–6 m thick. Lake Untersee is an unusual lake - its ice is extremely clean and transparent. The lake is permanently covered with ice and is partly bounded by glacier ice. Glaciers streaming from central Antarctica and flowing around the ridges creep onto the slopes as if trying to overcome a sudden obstacle on their way. The cliffs surrounding the lake are fantastic in their beauty, and white petrels sailing in the air add to this dreamlike scene.

The lake was first discovered by the Capt. Alfred Ritscher's expedition. Since then several expeditions have studied the lake's characteristics. In 2008, an Antarctic International Expedition with Dale An- dersen and Ian Hawes discovered conical stromatolites growing in Lake Untersee, the largest living ones known to date. Joint scientific research carried out by the Russian Academy of Science and NASA indicated that Lake Untersee, as a permanently ice-covered region, has very little usable soil and could be likened to the polar regions of Mars. The ice cover on Untersee Lake may have persisted for over 100,000 years.

The lake can be reached in one day by automobile or skidoo (distance 100 km) from Novolazarevskaya station, during the polar day period (November through February).