Research conducted on a 57-day expedition along the Antarctic Peninsula in 2010 led by Eugene Domack, the J.W. Johnson Family Professor of Geosciences, was the focus of a Dec. 12 article in the journal Nature. “Polar research: Trouble bares its claws - Crabs invading the Antarctic continental shelf could deal a crushing blow to a rare ecosystem” provided an overview of the changing ecological balance in the waters off Antarctica due to warming waters and the invasion of crabs into that area. The article highlighted Domack’s measurement of temperature changes during the last three decades.
According to the article, “Cold temperatures have kept crabs out of Antarctic seas for 30 million years.” Now, however, “researchers are worried that rising crab populations and other effects of the warming waters could irrevocably change a sea-floor ecosystem that resembles no other on Earth.”
“Domack has managed to date the onset [of rising temperatures] by measuring the amount of radioactive carbon-14 in deep-sea corals collected from the continental shelf — a process similar to reading tree rings,” the article reported. Working with Domack, both Taylor Burt '08 and Theresa Allinger '11 wrote theses focused on this coral research.
“Average water temperatures west of the Antarctic Peninsula have risen by 1 °C in the past 50 years, and continue to rise by 0.01–0.02 °C per year,” according to the article.