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The Deep Ocean Space - Observations on Ecosystem Functions and Impacts
Prof Antje Boetius, Professor of Geomicrobiology, University of Bremen; Director, Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research
Date : 13 Jul 2018 (Friday)
Time : 10:00 - 11:30 am
Venue : IAS Lecture Theater, Lo Ka Chung Building, Lee Shau Kee Campus, HKUST
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Together, the cryosphere and deep-sea cover the majority of the Earth’s surface, and provide important functions for this planet’s habitability, including a buffer against warming and excess CO2. They comprise a vast, yet uncharted diversity of habitats and life, by far exceeding continental biodiversity and genetic resources. However, polar and deep-sea ecosystems are remote and hardly accessible due to their physical conditions of which we call “extreme”. Temperatures below the freezing point, wind and waves, darkness and hydrostatic pressure amongst other factors challenge the presence of humans and even of robots and other observation platforms. In the absence of adequate observational capacities, our scientific knowledge on the evolution, distribution, dynamics and functioning of polar and deep-sea ecosystems is still meager. We lack ecological baselines and have not yet defined essential variables nor ecological indicators to observe and assess polar and ocean health. Nevertheless, there is substantial evidence of human footprints including climate change impacts, pollution and destructive use of resources in the most remote areas of Earth. Considering the observed and predicted speed of environmental changes, clear targets are needed for international policies and commitments to prevent irreversible shifts and losses. In this lecture, the speaker will summarize recent observations of change and impacts on polar and deep-sea ecosystems, and discuss conceptual strategies and rationales for including the unknown realms of Earth in sustainable development goals.


About the speaker

Prof Antje Boetius received her bachelor degree in biology from the University of Hamburg in 1992 and her doctorate in biology from the University of Bremen in 1996. She joined the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology as a Research Associate in 1999 and moved to the International University Bremen (later renamed as Jacobs University Bremen) in 2001 as an Assistant Professor. In 2009, she joined the University of Bremen and is currently the Professor of Geomicrobiology. She is also Director of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research.

Prof Boetius’ research focuses on the minute organisms that live on parts of the sea bed and have a major impact on the global climate. She was the first marine microbiologist to prove the existence of microbial communities consisting of bacteria that reduce sulphate and methanotrophic archaea on the ocean floor.

Prof Boetius received numerous awards including the Carl Friedrich Gauß-Medaille by Braunschweigische Wissenschaftliche Gesellschaft (2017), the Gustav Steinmann Medal by the German Geological Society (2014), the ECI Prize in Marine Ecology by the International Ecology Institute (2013) and the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize by the German Research Foundation (2007). She was also elected a Member of the European Academy of Sciences (2016), the European Academy of Microbiology (2015), the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina (2009) and a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology (2015).


For attendees’ attention


  The lecture is free and open to all. Seating is on a first come, first served basis.
  Light refreshments will be served from 9:30 to 10:00 am.



HKUST Jockey Club Institute for Advanced Study
Enquiries: ias@ust.hk / 2358 5912