Jim McClintock, standing, Maggie Amsler, left, and Chuck Amsler have spent a combined 75 years pioneering the research into the organisms that call the polar waters home from their base of operation, Palmer Station, on the Antarctica Peninsula. Follow the UAB team at antarctica.uab.edu.
UAB’s Antarctic marine research team will return to the continent just days from now.

Jim McClintock, Ph.D., and the husband and wife team of Chuck Amsler, Ph.D., and research associate Maggie Amsler have spent a combined 75 years pioneering research into the relationships between the chemically-protected algae and other organisms that call the polar waters home.

“What brings our research group back to Antarctica is a truly unique marine ecosystem – a set of plants and animals that give us marvelous tools to understand how ecosystems function in Antarctica and all over the world,” says Chuck Amsler.

Graduate students Kate Schoenrock and Ruth McDowell also are a part of the UAB team that will arrive at the base of operation at Palmer Station on the Antarctica Peninsula in Antarctica Feb. 17. They will assist with a range of research projects that include investigations into the effects of climate change and a warming planet on Antarctic ecosystems. For example, the team will study the effects of rising seawater temperature on the behavior of algal-consuming organisms. Previous UAB investigations have examined the impact of increasing ocean acidity on Antarctic marine life. Post-mortem examinations of the calcified outer shells of marine organisms have revealed it could jeopardize many ocean species.

“The trends in ocean acidification are creating a marine environment in which the sea water literally can eat away the shells of existing clams, snails and other organisms, which could cause species to die outright or become vulnerable to new predators,” McClintock says.

UAB undergraduate honors students (from left) Jose Roman, Andrew Douglas, Luke Stannard and Justin Chuang are pictured on Half Moon Island, South Shetland Islands, Antarctica in December 2009. The students were photographed while participating in an Antarctic Marine Ecology course offered through the UAB Study Away program. Classes were taught aboard the cruise ship Minerva by Jim McClintock while he led the ship’s passengers on a Climate Change Challenge Cruise. The Antarctica-based course will be offered to all UAB students again this December. Contact mcclinto@uab.edu or mcarter1@uab.edu for more details.
“Antarctica is a wonderful natural laboratory,” Maggie Amsler says. “Many of our discoveries have tangible impacts on human life, including a suite of chemical compounds collected from tunicates, an organism that lives along the ocean bottom, that seem to do a good job in combating melanoma cancer.”