Associate Professor of Biology Mike McCormick delivered a seminar talk about his work in Antarctica on Oct. 23 at Castleton University. He spoke at the invitation of one of his first Hamilton thesis advisees, Andy Vermilyea ’04, who is now an assistant professor of environmental science at Castleton.
In “Ice shelf collapse and its effects on the geochemistry and microbial community composition of Antarctic sediments,” McCormick discussed his 2012 research expedition to the Antarctic Peninsula. He said that two to three decades after the loss of the Larsen A ice shelf, sediment microbial communities are dominated by archaea that gain energy for growth by oxidizing ammonia. He noted that an important implication of this finding is that elevated rates of nitrous oxide emission (a potent greenhouse gas) may occur in these sediments.
McCormick completed this work as part of the LARISSA project, a National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded program to examine ice-ocean-ecosystem interactions within the Larsen ice shelf system to better understand the effects of climate change.