Biogeochemical Process Studies in Antarctic Supraglacial Environments




Biogeochemical process studies in Antarctic supraglacial environments

 Glaciers and ice sheets together represent the second-largest reservoir of water on Earth, with glacier ecosystems covering 10 percent, yet the carbon dynamics underpinning those ecosystems remain poorly understood. Organic carbon produced by resident autotrophic communities is the dominant substrate on glacier surfaces and are readily mineralized by supraglacial heterotrophs. Thus, carbon flow and transformation through supraglacial microbial communities may have an impact on the biogeochemistry of glacier and ice sheet environments. In addition, DOM on the surface of glaciers and ice sheets is highly reactive and undergoes photochemical processes, resulting in the production of reactive gas phase species and free radicals that impact the oxidative capacity of the overlying atmosphere. The extent to which organics react and are emitted from snow packs will largely depend on their chemical nature and overall composition. However, in spite of the centrality of organic matter in biogeochemical processes, at this moment, we know very little about the molecular-level composition and dynamics of this important DOM pool, and thus, its composition, sources and fates are often obscure.


We undertake a multi-disciplinary approach to quantify and examine the nature of organic matter and microbial communities in different supraglacial settings as well as understand the photochemical and biologically-mediated molecular level transformations within different pools of organic matter and carbon cycling within the Antarctic supraglacial environment.


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