Short Name:

Collaborative Research: Integrating Geomorphological and Paleoecological Studies to Reconstruct Neogene Environments of the Transantarctic Mountains

This project studies the last vestiges of life in Antarctica from exceptionally well-preserved fossils of tundra life--mosses, diatoms, ostracods, Nothofagus leaves, wood, and insect remains recently discovered in ancient lake sediments from the McMurdo Dry Valleys. The area will be studied by an interdisciplinary team to elucidate information about climate and biogeography. These deposits offer unique and direct information about the characteristics of Antarctica during a key period in its history, the time when it was freezing. This information is critical for correlation with indirect proxies, such as though obtained from drill cores, for climate and state of the ice sheet. The results will also help understand the origin and migration of similar organisms found in South America, India and Australia. In terms of broader impacts, this project supports an early career researcher, undergraduate and graduate student research, various forms of outreach to K12 students, and extensive international collaboration. The work also has societal relevance in that the outcomes will offer direct constraints on Antarctica's ice sheet during a time with atmospheric CO2 contents similar to those of the earth in the coming centuries, and thus may help predictive models of sea level rise.

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