The Ecology of Snow and Ice Environments

Paperback | February 3, 2012

byJohanna Laybourn-Parry, Martyn Tranter, Andrew J. Hodson

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Snow and ice environments support significant biological activity, yet the biological importance of some of these habitats, such as glaciers, has only recently gained appreciation. Collectively, these ecosystems form a significant part of the cryosphere, most of which is situated at highlatitudes. These ice environments are important sentinels of climate change since the polar regions are presently undergoing the highest rates of climate warming, resulting in very marked changes in the extent of ice caps, glaciers, and the sea ice. Glacial systems are also regarded as an analoguefor astrobiology, particularly for Mars and the moons of Jupiter (e.g. Europa), and one of the justifications for research in this area is its potential value in astrobiology. This timely and accessible volume draws together the current knowledge on life in snow and ice environments. It describes these often complex and often productive ecosystems, their physical and chemical conditions, and the nature and activity of the organisms that have colonised them. The cryosphereis the domain of extremophiles, organisms able to adapt to the physiological and biochemical challenges of harsh cold conditions where liquid water may only be present for relatively short periods each year. The majority of extremophiles in ice and snow are microorganisms.The Ecology of Snow and Ice Environments is intended for the non-specialist, enabling environmental scientists to understand the biological functioning of extreme cold environments and for biologists to gain knowledge of the nature of the cryosphere.

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Snow and ice environments support significant biological activity, yet the biological importance of some of these habitats, such as glaciers, has only recently gained appreciation. Collectively, these ecosystems form a significant part of the cryosphere, most of which is situated at highlatitudes. These ice environments are important s...

Professor Laybourn-Parry is a Visiting Professor in the Bristol Glaciology Centre at Bristol University. Her research career spans 38 years, the last 22 years being spent researching polar ecosystems with the Australian and US Antarctic programmes in Antarctica and in Spitzbergen in the Arctic. She has produced four books and over 150...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:224 pagesPublished:February 3, 2012Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199583080

ISBN - 13:9780199583089

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Table of Contents

Preface1. An introduction to ice environments and their biology2. Snow3. Ice surface environments4. Sea and lake ice5. Sub-glacial environments6. Astrobiology7. Future directionsGlossaryReferencesIndex