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Living in the Cold

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The Southern Ocean is the coldest ocean on Earth. Its temperatures are amongst the most stable of the global marine environment with most places having annual temperature ranges of less than 3°C, and some places less than 1°C. Total darkness in winter and 24 h sunlight in summer results in very short summer phytoplankton blooms that provide the resources for nearly the whole marine ecosystem. This talk will focus on the adaptations of the unique fauna living on the seabed around Antarctica, and explore the reasons why these animals are so different from those in warmer oceans. It will also explore how their adaptations make them possibly the most vulnerable to future climate change.

Professor Lloyd Peck leads a team of around 25 scientists and PhD students in the British Antarctic Survey. He has completed 18 summer science visits to Antarctica and 3 to the Arctic. His research interests are broad and based around the ecological and physiological adaptations of animals to their environment and how the environment limits what organisms can do. These limitations are often easier to identify in extreme environments. He is also interested in how the adaptations that animals possess affect their capacities to respond to environmental change. Prof Peck has written over 225 papers in international journals, and more than 20 books, book chapters or major reviews. He has logged over 700 dives in Antarctica and counts it amongst the best places on Earth for diving because of the unusual invertebrates, the mammals and the ice. He gave the Royal Institution Christmas lectures in 2004.

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This talk is part of the SciSoc – Cambridge University Scientific Society series.

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