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The Polar Connection: linking past to future

This show is live streamed to YouTube - register to get the link to watch - even after it has finished.
Past event - 2021
20 Oct 6pm to 7pm
(UK time)
Live, YouTube,
Online Your Home
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Science going
Join us for a fascinating evening with two polar scientists who will share with us their insights into the current status of the polar regions. In particular, we'll hear about krill ecosystems and their role in global climate, as well as how the presence of microbes on the Greenland ice sheet is speeding up how fast it's melting. It's your chance to engage in these interesting subjects, and get your questions answered, no matter how wild or wacky!

Photo by jesse orrico on Unsplash

In search of super-sized swarms: why krill are important to us all

Professor Geraint Tarling (Biological oceanographer at the British Antarctic Survey)
Did you know that there are 130,000 Antarctic krill for every human and that krill can form swarms bigger than the area of central London? In his talk, Professor Tarling will consider the fascinating biology of one of the most successful animals on the planet. Despite their success, they live in a fragile ecosystem that is changing rapidly. They are also the target of an expanding fishery that is receiving the increasing attention of environmental pressure groups. Immerse yourself in the science of biological oceanography and find out how we monitor stocks, disentangle food webs and reveal the importance of krill to global climate.

Microbes are melting the Greenland ice sheet

Professor Martyn Tranter (Professor of Polar Biogeochemistry, Aarhus University)
The surface of the Greenland Ice Sheet is darkening during the summer. Dark surfaces adsorb more sunlight, and melt faster. What’s causing the darkening? It looks like soot from forest fires or dust blown in during storms, but under the microscope you see that the black stuff is alive. What we’ve found is that microscopic ice algae live on the ice surface, where they find all the fertiliser they need to grow in the melting ice. The sunlight is continuous at the height of summer, and very strong much of the day, and so the algae contain a deep purple pigment to protect themselves from the damaging UV radiation. There are so many of them, somewhere between 10,000 to a million in every cc of ice melt, that they colour the surface deep purple to black. We are in the early days of finding out why they grow so well, but I’ll tell you what we know so far.

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