Back to the ice: UAB funded to study ocean acidity in Antarctica

Being the major research university we are, UAB’s Department of Biology is home to several of the world’s leading experts on Antarctica. Jim McClintock, Ph.D. and Chuck Amsler, Ph.D., for instance, are key members of the UAB in Antarctica team and have logged more than 30 trips to the ice between them, most recently in spring and early summer of this year. Now the two scientists have received a new three-year grant from the National Science Foundation to extend their Antarctic research and explore the effects of ocean acidifcation.

Research done at UAB and other universities has shown that over time the world’s oceans are becoming more acidic due to the planet’s increasing levels of carbon dioxide. More CO2 is moving into, or being absorbed by, marine systems, which increases the level of acidity in the water. Under their $625,000 grant, McClintock, Amsler, and a third UAB biologist, Robert Angus, Ph.D., will investigate the individual and combined effects of rising ocean acidification and sea surface temperatures on shallow-water calcified benthic organisms in Western Antarctic Peninsula marine communities. Calcified benthic organisms use hard protective shells to survive and live along the sea floor. One concern of ocean acidification is that increasing water acidity can wear away, or eat through, calicified organisms’ protective shells, which could impact survival rates and ultimately influence the ocean’s food web.

Read more about the goals of the ocean acidification research at the NSF website where the UAB team’s research was recently a featured article. You can also learn more about UAB in Antarctica through the team’s website archives by clicking here.

Andrew Hayenga, UAB News Blog, 14 October 2010. Article.

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