Monday, December 2, 2019 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
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Haller Hall (102), 24 Oxford St., Cambridge

EPS Colloquium

John Priscu, Regents Professor of Ecology, Co-director of the Subzero Research Facility, Montana State University, will discuss "Geomicrobiology in and beneath Polar Ice Sheets."                             

Abstract: Few data exist on particulate and dissolved organic matter in and beneath polar ice. Biological matter deposited on the surface of glaciers and ice sheets represent seed material for subglacial environments, where processes determine the rate of ice flux through an ice sheet, the erosional and sedimentary dynamics of an ice sheet, the phylogenetic and metabolic diversity, the biogeochemical transformation of materials between an ice sheet and its geologic substrate, and the transport of nutrients to the surrounding marine environment. Results from prior subglacial studies showed that this ecosystem is fueled by relict marine organic matter and in situ chemolithoautotrophic carbon production. I will present a short history of geobiological research on polar ice sheets, present data on the bacterial distribution in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet from the Late Glacial Maximum to the early Holocene, microbial changes in Himalayan Glaciers over the past 60 years, and discuss recent biogeophysical discoveries in the subglacial aquatic environment beneath the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets.

Bio: John Priscu is a Regents Professor of Ecology and co-director of the Subzero Research Facility at Montana State University, Bozeman. He has spent 35 field seasons in Antarctica conducting research on life under ice-shelves, the Southern Ocean, sea ice, permanently ice-covered lakes, life beneath the Antarctic ice sheet, and chaired SCAR’s international subglacial group of experts. Priscu has been a principal investigator on the NSF-funded McMurdo LTER project, and was Chief Scientist of the WISSARD expedition that retrieved the first samples from beneath the West Antarctic Ice Sheet proving that functional subglacial ecosystems exist. He is now the Chief Scientist of the SALSA project, which drilled through 1100m of ice in January 2019 to sample Mercer Subglacial Lake.

Contact Name: 

Katrina Blanch

Research Areas: 

Harvard University
Center for the Environment

Address: 26 Oxford Street, 4th Floor, Cambridge
Phone: (617) 495-0368

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