CCI’s recently expanded mandate includes supporting and developing research and teaching on Antarctica. UofA researchers are members and advisors of the Canadian Committee for Antarctic Research (CCAR). CCAR serves as a national advisory body on Antarctic matters. The current chair of the CCAR is held by Marianne Douglas, director of CCI. Other members of CCAR also include Dr Martin Sharp, who played a key role in the involvement of the University of Alberta in hosting the Polar Connections workshop in Edmonton on September 25–27, 2003.
Antarctic research at the UofA
Douglas conducts comparative limnological and paleolimnological research in the Arctic and Antarctic, describing the extent and rate of environmental change.
Martin Sharp's group has conducted research in the Ross Sea region of Antarctica since 2002 in collaboration with Drs Sean Fitzsimons and John Orwin, Department of Geography, University of Otago, and Dr Denis Samyn (Uppsala) with logistic support from Antarctica New Zealand. Martin Sharp, Joel Barker (Ph.D) and Ashley Dubnick (undergraduate) have spent 6 seasons in the McMurdo Dry Valleys (Wright, Victoria, Taylor, and Garwood valleys) and on the McMurdo ice shelf at Minna Bluff. The focus of their work has been on the biogeochemistry of glacier ice, meltwaters, marine ice from the McMurdo ice shelf, and ice shelf melt-ponds. In particular, they have focused on using spectrofluorescence methods to characterize the m
olecular structure of dissolved organic matter (DOM) from these environments (in collaboration with Drs Ray Turner (Calgary) and Jemma Wadham (Bristol). In a recently initiated collaboration with Drs Myrna and Andree Simpson (Toronto) they are extending this work to include the use of NMR spectroscopy to characterize both DOM from ice and particulate organic matter (POM) from cryoconite holes on glacier surfaces. The aim of this work is to understand the sources of organic matter in glacial ecosystems and to identify evidence for microbial use of this organic matter as a substrate for respiration.
In parallel work, Sharp's research group are conducting a series of incubation experiments on ice from Lower Wright Glacier that is rich in organic matter to determine whether microbial populations in the ice are involved in either heterotrophy or methanogenesis – and, if they are, to understand the environmental constraints on the rates at which these processes operate. Finally, they are using stable isotope, major ion and nutrient chemistry to investigate the combined influences of water source (snow, glacier ice, marine ice), weathering, microbial activity, and freezing induced mineral precipitation on the chemistry of ice shelf melt-ponds
Christian Haas (Christian is currently at York University)
Christian Haas' research focuses on observations of the large-scale and long-term variability of the sea ice mass balance and ocean-ice-atmosphere interactions in the Southern Ocean and in the Weddell Sea in particular. He also studies the physical, biological, and biogeochemical processes and interactions in sea ice. His research also looks at snow and sea ice microwave signatures and their relationship to snow and ice processes and changes in their properties, seasonally and interannually.
Doug Schmitt's research group is heavily involved in scientific drilling projects around the world and he is part of the science teams for the ANDRILL (Antarctic Drilling) program MIS and SMS boreholes drilled in 2006 and 2007. ANDRILL is a joint U.S, German, Italian, and New Zealand program. The purposes of these boreho
les were two-fold. First, the boreholes were strategically placed in order to obtain as much Cenozoic to recent sediments as possible. Second, information on the state of stress in the earth's crust, important for the study of plate tectonics in the uniquely positioned Antarctic continent, was obtained from three boreholes. Dr. Schmitt led the field team that carried out quantitative hydraulic fracturing stress measurements in the borehole in collaboration with researchers from the U.S., Germany, and Italy. With many of this same group and with Dr. Claire Currie at the U of Alberta they continue spin-off work on trying to better understand stress related core damage as further information on the state of stress in the earth. A second ancillary project has arisen with German collaborators with the visit of a student to Edmonton to make measurements of the seismic properties on glacial diamicts, materials never before so studied.
Anita Dey Nuttall
Dey Nuttall's research focuses on the interface between science and politics in the Polar Regions, and in particular how a nation’s science policy and strategic interests influence and determine the development of its national Antarctic programs. She is currently developing new research on Canada’s strategy for polar science and development of the Canadian Antarctic Research Program.