Melting Poles, Changing Ecosystems

Today, there is a consensus in the scientific world that the global climate has changed at a rapid pace that goes beyond the natural process as an impact of human activities. This year, the piece that broke off from the Larsen C glacier in the East of the Antarctic Peninsula became the headline of the world press. As it is observed, this is one of the largest glaciers with 5800 square kilometers as a sea-ice. A lot of scientists interpret it as the dramatic effect of the climate change and it is seen that the fast melting of the Antarctic Peninsula is the worrisome sign for them. Not only the melting of the glaciers and the rising sea level on the pole; these changes also affect the distribution, behavior, and interactions of creatures. Korhan Özkan from ODTÜ Marine Sciences Institute and Emre Keskin from Ankara University aim to understand how this rapid climate change affect the food webs in the Antarctic. In March and April 2018, Korhan Özkan conducted the field research in the white continental region within the scope of the National Antarctic Expedition*. Throughout the Antarctic Peninsula, detailed samples were made on the impressive ecosystems and organisms forming parts of the polar ecosystem. These researches aiming to understand the nutrient relations by using the living things using stable isotopes and living DNA residues in the tissues of living things. One of the major purposes of this project is to be able to make sediment samples by discovering suitable ones that are rare in the lake ecosystems in Antarctica. As the layer of sediment accumulates in the lake ecosystem, they also keep the change in Antarctica like an archive. Using the archive, it is aimed to understand the history of the Antarctic Peninsula and the dimensions of the changes it has undergone.

It is a very important step for our country to launch such a large-scale science program outside of its borders for the first time. Especially, in the field of natural sciences, the fact that our country's researchers have a vision to do research beyond our country borders, was seen as a development that many of us waiting for. We hope that this step also flourishes so as to include all ground system research areas such as biogeography, deep seas, global loops, north pole, etc.

*National Antarctic Program is conducted under the auspices of Presidency of T.C., under the responsibility of the Ministry of Science, Industry and Technology, and it is coordinated by the İTÜ PolReC.