Metamorph Films and the Subglacial Antarctic Lakes Scientific Access (SALSA) Science Team, which includes Colgate University’s Harold Orville Whitnall Professor of Earth and Environmental Geosciences Amy Leventer, will release The Lake at the Bottom of the World on Feb. 28. The feature-length documentary will stream on platforms and cable television worldwide.
Almost a mile beneath the ice in Antarctica lies a never-before-filmed polar wetland potentially holding secrets to our survival on our rapidly changing planet. The Lake at the Bottom of the World is a 90-minute documentary following an international group of scientists as they venture into the virtually unknown interior of Antarctica to explore a subglacial lake buried 3,600 feet beneath the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.
This is the first time an exploration to a subglacial lake has ever been filmed. In fact, more is known about the surface of Mars than about the 600+ lakes under the ice in Antarctica.
The scientists’ goals are threefold: 1) To understand the climate history of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet to predict the future melting and collapse; 2) To discover life evolved in the extreme subglacial environment and how it sustains itself at subzero temperatures without light; 3) To understand how subglacial lakes fit into the nutrient cycling of the Earth System.
Their success hinges on their custom hot water drill, 4000 feet of modified fire hose, and their ability to work as a collaborative team in the harshest climate on the planet. As they struggle against the ferocity of the ice and wind to unravel mysteries buried deep under Antarctica, they consider how our relationship with nature — and with one another — will impact humanity’s future and the future of all life on our rapidly changing planet.
The Lake at the Bottom of the World is a sensory vérité documentary: scientific and poetic, sensory-rich and experiential. As the film unfolds so does the layered process of science, revealing the power of scientific collaboration for our survival.
The National Science Foundation funded both the science and the film, which has screened at festivals worldwide, including the Wild & Scenic Film Festival, Woods Hole Film Festival, Imagine Science, Eastern Sierra Mountain Film Festival (Winner – Jury Award), SCINEMA International Science Film Festival, Frozen River Film Festival, Friday Harbor Film Festival, 41 North Film Festival, British Columbia Environmental Film Festival, Academia Film Olomouc, and Raw Science Film Festival.
The Lake at the Bottom of the World strives to show how the scientific community can address uncertainties about climate change through collaboration and adventure. With the right team and tools, humanity can advance its knowledge of this small planet and delight in the process of discovery.