From Penguins to Plankton | Laurel Magazine – The Laurel Magazine of Highlands NC and Cashiers NC

Written By: Winter Gary | Issue: September – 2022
This month, the Highlands Biological Foundation ispartnering with Dr. James B. McClintock, EndowedUniversity Professor of Polar and Marine Biology at theUniversity of Alabama at Birmingham, to bring the Highlandscommunity a free, educational program about the increasinglypressing issue of global warming.Using a largely personal story-based approach, Dr. McClintockwill presentFrom Penguins toPlankton – the Dramatic Impactsof Climate Change in Antarcticaatthe Highlands Nature Center beginning at 5:00 P.M. on Friday,September 23, with a reception to follow.The Antarctic Peninsula is the most rapidly warming regionof our planet. Glaciers are in retreat, major coastal ice sheetsare disintegrating, and the annual sea ice is declining. Marineecosystems are being dramatically restructured. Populationsof key species including krill and Adélie penguins are disap-pearing. Warmer weather species, such as gentoo penguins,chinstrap penguins, and elephant seals, are exhibiting rangeextensions as temperatures warm.And for the first time, deep water king crabs are migratingup the Antarctic slope where they are threatening to decimatevulnerable shelf communities harboring species that mayunlock cures to human disease. These dramatic alterations inthe Antarctic marine ecosystem speak loudly to the need toaddress global climate change and its growing impacts includ-ing those now affecting us here in Southeastern U.S.Dr. McClintock is an award-winning profes-sor, author, and leading expert on the eco-logical impacts of climate change and oceanacidification on marine life of the AntarcticPeninsula. He recently returned from his16th research expedition to Antarctica, whereover the past two decades, he and his research collaboratorshave become among the world’s authorities on Antarctic marinechemical ecology and drug discovery.The Highlands Nature Center is a part of the HighlandsBiological Station, a multi-campus center of WCU.
by Winter Gary, Highlands Biological Foundation
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