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2004-05 Northern Chair Lecture Series: Environments on the Edge: Antarctic in a Changing World


Presented by Trent's Northern and Polar Studies Committee and Frost Centre for Canadian and Native Studies

Tuesday, January 11, 2005, Peterborough

Trent University's Northern and Polar Studies Committee and Frost Centre for Canadian and Native Studies will welcome alumnus Dr. Peter T. Doran from the University of Illinois at Chicago for the 2004-05 Northern Chair Lecture Series, Environments on the Edge: Antarctic in a Changing World.

The lecture series takes place January 18, 20 and 25. All lectures start at 7:30 p.m. in the Bata Library Film Theatre and are open to the public. Admission is free of charge.

"This year's Northern Chair Lecture Series contrasts the Earth's two polar regions and places them within the context of our changing planet," says Prof. Peter Lafleur, chair of the Northern and Polar Studies Committee at Trent. "It is particularly timely in view of the recently released Arctic Climate Impacts Assessment report, which details present and expected changes to the social, biological and physical components of the Arctic environment as a result of the unrelenting assault from climatic change. Dr. Doran's lectures will draw on over 12 years of research experience in both Arctic and Antarctic environments. I think the audience is in for a real treat."

Lecture #1, January 18, 7:30 pm, Bata Library Film Theatre

Polar bears don't eat penguins: the Arctic and Antarctic Environments Compared

They're both cold, they're at opposite ends of the globe, they've attracted the adventurous and inspired the imaginative, but the two polar regions are separated by more than 180 degrees of latitude. This lecture will compare and contrast the Arctic and the Antarctic, exploring their importance in global climate and ocean circulation, current climate trends, history, physiography, and ecosystems.

Lecture #2, January 20, 7:30 pm, Bata Library Film Theatre

Canadian Geographers in Antarctica: A Century of Science

Thomas Griffith Taylor was the founder of the University of Toronto Geography department, but before that he was a lead scientist on Robert Falcon Scott's ill-fated 1911 South Pole Expedition. While Scott was fighting for the Pole, Taylor was carrying out seminal science in the McMurdo Sound region, including the large ice free region referred to as the McMurdo Dry Valleys. This lecture will explore the work of Taylor in the dry valleys and compare it to modern research being conducted in the same region.

Lecture #3, January 25, 7:30 pm, Bata Library Film Theatre

Antarctica as an Extreme Environment and Extraterrestrial Analog

Antarctica is combined the coldest and driest place on Earth. Even though, life has managed to find a niche, and in some cases even thrive, in this extreme environment. This lecture looks at the terrestrial ecosystems of Antarctica. These include life in the dry valleys and under 3.5 km of glacial ice in a Lake Ontario-sized water body: Lake Vostok. Many of these ecosystems are studied for their importance in the origin and evolution of life on this planet, and perhaps on others, because they exist at extreme environmental conditions. Their usefulness as planetary analogs will also be explored.

Biographical sketch, Professor Peter Doran, University of Illinois at Chicago

Professor Doran is originally from Canada. He received a B.Sc.(hon) from Trent University, and an M.Sc. from Queen's University. In 1991 he began a Ph.D. program in Hydrology/Hydrogeology at the University of Nevada, Reno. He received a NASA Planetary Biology Internship (PBI) to work at NASA Ames Research Center just prior to the start of his Ph.D. It was during the PBI that he was told by his Ph.D. advisor that he would be headed to the Antarctic for six months on a Russian expedition. He has returned to the Antarctic for research every year but one since. He is also a veteran of more than 10 expeditions to the Canadian Arctic and Alaska.

Professor Doran received a faculty position in Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1998 and was promoted to Associate Professor in 1993. His work in the Antarctic, focuses on climate/lake interactions in conjunction with the goals of the ongoing U.S. National Science Foundation's (NSF) Long-term Ecological Research (LTER) site in Antarctica (which he is a principal investigator on). A recent paper in the journal Nature on climate and ecological trends associated with this research drew much attention from both sides of the global warming "debate". His other main line of research is funded by NASA to use the dry valley lakes as analogs for past Martian aquatic environments that are believed to have existed. One of these projects is currently working in collaboration with Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineers to build a robotic drill to sample in the subsurface of Mars. This drill is scheduled to be tested in the Antarctic in November of 2005. A research paper associated with this project was selected by both NSF and Science News as one of the scientific highlights of 2002. Professor Doran has also been a regular participant in NSF Workshops for planning the exploration of Lake Vostok, a Lake Ontario-sized water body beneath the Antarctic ice sheet.

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For more information, contact Prof. Peter Lafleur, 748-1011, ext. 1487

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Last Updated January 11, 2005