Buried beneath kilometres-thick slabs of ice are rivers and huge lakes - some of which are teeming with microbes that thrive in a world without light or oxygen.
Polar ice isn't all the same - it can be divided roughly into "land ice" and "sea ice". What matters most for sea levels is how much ice slides off the land and melts in the sea.
Australia and China both have a keen interest in the frozen continent. And while they don't agree on everything, there is great scope for scientific collaboration.
It's one of the remotest places on Earth and yet is still claimed by six nations – including Australia.