Featured image: Gravel and rocks crushed by the Greenland Ice Sheet. Image courtesy PennStateNews, used with permission.
Paper: Large subglacial source of mercury from the southwestern margin of the Greenland Ice Sheet
Authors: Jon R. Hawkings, Benjamin S. Linhoff, Jemma L. Wadham, Marek Stibal, Carl H. Lamborg, Gregory T. Carling, Guillaume Lamarche-Gagnon, Tyler J. Kohler, Rachael Ward, Katharine R. Hendry, Lukáš Falteisek, Anne M. Kellerman, Karen A. Cameron, Jade E. Hatton, Sarah Tingey, Amy D. Holt, Petra Vinšová, Stefan Hofer, Marie Bulínová, Tomáš Větrovský, Lorenz Meire, Robert G. M. Spencer
The Greenland Ice Sheet is melting at an astounding rate as our planet continues to warm. Mercury levels in the glacial meltwater traveling into the ocean are the highest levels ever measured in natural systems and rival heavily polluted rivers in Asia. By measuring and tracing mercury in the meltwater, Hawkings and coworkers estimated that the Greenland Ice Sheet contributes up to 10% of all mercury found in Earth’s Oceans today. Where is this mercury coming from within the Greenland Ice Sheet? It is not actually coming from the ice itself, but rather the rocks that have been crushed under the immense weight of the Ice Sheet over thousands of years.
Continue reading “Mercury on the Move”
Featured Image: Iceberg floating through thin sea ice. Image courtesy NASA ICE, used with permission.
Paper: Glacial melt disturbance shifts community metabolism of an Antarctic seafloor ecosystem from net autotrophy to heterotrophy
Authors: Ulrike Braeckman, Francesca Pasotti, Ralf Hoffmann, Susana Vázquez, Angela Wulff, Irene R. Schloss, Ulrike Falk, Dolores Deregibus, Nene Lefaible, Anders Torstensson, Adil Al-Handal, Frank Wenzhöfer, Ann Vanreusel
Nothing compares to the ethereal beauty of a clear lake. Looking down, you can see a whole world flourishing below: plants, fish, and critters. Compare that to a cloudy, or turbid, lake and suddenly you may feel very small, worried about what’s lurking beneath you. New research shows that the Antarctic ocean is transitioning from clear to turbid water, with big implications for ocean ecosystems.
Continue reading “Antarctic seafloor oxygen is diminishing–and glaciers may be to blame”
Featured Image: Shewanella putrefaciens CN-32 (a microbe capable of eating iron) on hematite (a rock containing iron). Image courtesy Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL). Used with permission.
Paper: Organic matter mineralization in modern and ancient ferruginous sediments
Authors: André Friese, Kohen Bauer, Clemens Glombitza, Luis Ordoñez, Daniel Ariztegui Verena B. Heuer, Aurèle Vuillemin, Cynthia Henny, Sulung Nomosatryo, Rachel Simister Dirk Wagner, Satria Bijaksana, Hendrik Vogel, Martin Melles, James M. Russell, Sean A. Crowe, Jens Kallmeyer
Just as a crow may use a rock to crack a nut, certain microbes can use solid iron to crack open methane. This consumption limits the amount of methane lost from lakes into the atmosphere, making it a crucial process in mitigating production of greenhouse gasses. These microbes are abundant in freshwater sediments, and their specialized mechanism for cracking open methane is most likely one of the oldest metabolisms on Earth, providing a modern-day window into the past.
Continue reading “Rust to the Rescue?”
Featured Image: Rock fracture from the Dresser Formation, Australia. Fluid inclusions are trapped in the white stripes. Image courtesy Ser Amantio di Nicolao, used with permission.
Paper: Ingredients for microbial life preserved in 3.5 billion-year-old fluid inclusions
Authors: Helge Mißbach, Jan-Peter Duda, Alfons M. van den Kerkhof, Volker Lüders, Andreas Pack, Joachim Reitner, Volker Thiel
Just a few weeks ago NASA made a historic landing of the Perseverance rover on Mars. This rover symbolizes our human drive for exploration and the need to find the origins of life to answer the big question—are we alone in the universe? In addition to extraterrestrial investigation and research, we can address this fundamental question here on our own planet by digging into extreme environments that are analogs for ancient Earth or other planets. These unusual environments, such as hydrothermal vents in our deepest oceans, boiling hot springs in Yellowstone, and prehistoric lakes in South America, can give us glimpses of ancient information and clues about to the ingredients of life. By discovering our own origins of life, we can begin to understand how it may evolve on other planets.
Continue reading “Prehistoric Microbial Meals Found in the Australian Outback”
Featured Image: Small headwater stream in Oregon’s Mountains. Image courtesy Jessica Buser-Young, used with permission.
Paper: The River Continuum Concept
Authors: Robin L. Vannote, G. Wayne Minshall, Kenneth W. Cummins, James R. Sedell, Colbert E. Cushing
Perhaps last time you went for a hike, you stumbled upon a burbling spring pushing its way up through the leaf litter after a heavy rainfall, creating a tiny rivulet of water crisscrossing over your path before plunging back into the forest. What a find! Excitedly, you squatted down and gently uncovered the spring to notice gnats lazily floating away, some nearby fruiting mushrooms, and great clumps of decomposing twigs and leaves which you assume harbor uncountable numbers of microorganisms. This unique little ecosystem is profiting from the nutrients and water being pushed from the ground, using the opportunity to have a feast. But what happens to the nutrients and carbon that gets past these plants and animals?
Continue reading “Mosaics of Life Along a River”
Featured Image: Fractured sea ice. Image courtesy Pink Floyd 88 a, accessed through Wikimedia Commons GNU Free Documentation License
Paper: Elevated sources of cobalt in the Arctic Ocean
Authors: Randelle Bundy, Alessandro Tagliabue, Nicholas Hawco, Peter Morton, Benjamin Twining, Mariko Hatta, Abigail Noble, Mattia Cape, Seth John, Jay Cullen, Mak Saito
Imagine navigating the Beaufort Sea to the North Pole, crossing icy and treacherous waters through the untamed North, all to chase a metal that is so rare that you have a better chance of finding 5 grains of sand in an Olympic swimming pool*. This is exactly what Bundy et al. accomplished in their work identifying cobalt amounts in the Arctic Ocean and how these amounts vary based on ocean depth, distance from land, and over a time period of 6 years.
Continue reading “Unveiling the Mysterious Patterns of Arctic Cobalt”