Associate Professor of Biology Mike McCormick presented recent research findings at the annual meeting of Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR). The conference was held Aug. 25-29 in Auckland, New Zealand.
McCormick presented the results of a transect survey of geochemistry and microbial community composition in marine sediments. The research was conducted in 2012 along the historic path of retreat of the Larsen A ice shelf.
He reported that two to three decades after the loss of the ice shelf, sediment microbial communities were dominated by Thaumarchaeota, a type of archaea (single-celled microorganisms) that gain energy for growth by oxidizing ammonia.
McCormick said that 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 in order to better understand the effects of climate change in this rapidly changing region of Earth.