Associate Professor of Biology Mike McCormick gave seminar talks on his recent work in Antarctica on Dec. 2 at the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory Ecosystems Center and on Nov. 14 at the University of South Florida College of Marine Science.
McCormick discussed the results of a 2012 expedition to study the geochemistry and microbiology of sediments previously covered by the Larsen A ice shelf.
Two to three decades after the loss of the ice shelf, sediment microbial communities were dominated by Thaumarchaeota, a type of archaea that gain energy for growth by oxidizing ammonia. An important implication of this finding is that elevated rates of nitrous oxide emission (a potent greenhouse gas) may occur in these same 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 in this rapidly changing region of Earth.