Antarctic Science

Papers—Life Sciences and Oceanography

Evidence for physical and chemical stratification in Lake Untersee (central Dronning Maud Land, East Antarctica)

U. Wand a1, G. Schwarz a2, E. Brüggemann a2 and K. Bräuer a3
a1 Alfred-Wegener-Institute of Polar and Marine Research, Research Department Potsdam, Telegrafenberg A43, D-14473 Potsdam, Germany
a2 Institute of Tropospherical Research, Permoserstr. 15, D-04303 Leipzig, Germany
a3 Institute of Geophysics and Geology, Department of Geochemistry, University of Leipzig, Permoserstr. 15, D-04303 Leipzig, Germany

Article author query
wand u   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
schwarz g   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
brüggemann e   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
bräuer k   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


Lake Untersee is the largest freshwater lake in the interior of East Antarctica. It is a perennially ice-covered, max. 169 m deep, ultra-oligotrophic lake. In contrast to earlier studies, we found clear evidence for physical and chemical stratification in the summer of 1991–92. However, the stratification was restricted to a trough, c. 500 m wide and up to 105 m deep, in the south-western part of the lake. There, the water body was distinctly stratified as indicated by sharp vertical gradients of temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, and electrical conductivity. The water column was anoxic below 80 m. The chemical stratification is also indicated by changes of ionic ratios. Moreover, there was some evidence for methanogenesis and bacterial sulphate reduction in Lake Untersee.

(Received July 25 1996)
(Accepted October 31 1996)

Key Words: chemistry; East Antarctica; lakes; limnology; stratification; water.