Polar ENV core research focuses on the geochemistry of ice-free and ice-covered environments in the Arctic, Antarctic and urban areas, and applying this knowledge towards understanding landscape development, salt and nutrient cycling, biogeography, and habitat suitability throughout the Solar System. We are particularly interested in research within the following themes:
- How does the geochemistry of soil and ice in the cryosphere influence ecosystem development and inform habitat suitability on Earth and within the Solar System?
- What are the current, past, and future effects of global change on resource-limited arid environments?
- How do natural systems, urban geochemistry, and equity intersect?
- How have anthropogenic processes perturbed biogeochemical cycles?
McMurdo Dry Valleys LTER
The McMurdo Dry Valleys Long Term Ecological Research Project is an interdisciplinary study of the aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems in a cold desert region of Antarctica. In 1992 this area was selected as a study site within the National Science Foundation's Long-term Ecological Research (LTER) Program. Details about the research can be reviewed through the original 1992 research proposal to the National Science Foundation, or the most recent 2022 proposal, resulting in funding for another 6 years, at https://mcm.lternet.edu/
Ice-marginal lake biogeochemistry
Lake Tininnilik is a large ice-marginal lake restrained by an ice dam along Sarqardliup Glacier in western Greenland. It drains approximately every 10 years into a local fjord, most recently in 2021, exposing previously inundated sediments. This research will analyze water samples from different lobes of Lake Tininnilik and exposed sediments to understand the microbial composition and how ice-marginal lakes influence the availability of nutrients for near-shore and open-ocean ecosystems.
Sea ice geochemistry
NASA's Exploring Ocean Worlds (EwOW) seeks to 1) quantify the importance of physical and (bio)geochemical processes on an ocean world to its biological potential and biosignature potential and 2) identify which observable features would most strongly determine an ocean world’s biological and biosignature potential. As participants of ExOW, this research is focused on understanding how studies of ice-ocean interfaces in Earth's polar regions can aid future astrobiology missions on their search for extraterrestrial life.
Dust weathering on glaciers
Despite low temperatures and the relative scarcity of liquid water, glacial systems can be a major source of trace metals, nutrients and other weathering products to proglacial and marine systems. Little is understood about weathering mechanisms or the composition of major and trace nutrients in snow and supraglacial ice. This research will combine computer modeling and laboratory experiments to understand 1) what happens (chemically and physically) to glacier and snowpack dust during freezing and thawing and 2) how to model freezing and thawing of water and dust in glacier ice.
Metal Redlining Network
The Metal Redlining Network's central goal is to build a cross-city network that empowers research, education, and policy advocacy to advance Geohealth equity. We collaborate around a shared research question: Has redlining resulted in an unjust soil metal burden? Redlining is the systemic disinvestment in communities based on race, class, or other factors. We seek to answer our research question by examining metal pollution associated with the "Residential security zones" established by the Home Owner Loan Corporation prior to the 1950s. Learn more at: https://serc.carleton.edu/earthconnections/networks/metal_redlining/index.html