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Ocean, Cryosphere and Humanity: Valuing alien nature

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Evening lecture by Prof. Dr. Antje Boetius in the context of the Leopoldina Annual Assembly 2018

Date: Friday, 21. September 2018
Time: 20:15 to 21:15
Location: Leopoldina, Jägerberg 1, 06108 Halle (Saale)

Oceans and Cryosphere together cover the majority of the Earth’s surface and provide important functions for this planet’s habitability, reflecting sunlight for radiation balance, buffering against rapid warming and sequestering access carbon. They comprise a vast, yet uncharted diversity of habitats and life, by far exceeding continental biodiversity, and the known genetic resources.

Because of their remoteness and extreme physical conditions – high pressure, temperature around or below the freezing point, absence of sunlight - this alien nature is understudied. We lack ecological baselines and have not yet defined essential variables and ecological indicators to assess humanities’ impact on polar and ocean systems. Yet, we have substantial evidence of increasing human pressure including climate change, pollution and destructive use of resources in the ocean and cryosphere. Projections based on scientific facts underpin the likelihood that these impacts may degrade vast areas of Earth as we know them. The state of oceans and the cryosphere could be seen as the sentinel for sustainable development of human societies.

This presentation will discuss conceptual strategies and rationales for protection and management of alien nature as a target in the sustainable development of humanity. It will also argue for the role of National Academies in debating the urgency of action.

Prof. Dr. Antje Boetius ML
The microbiologist Antje Boetius is Director of the Alfred-Wegener-Institut in Bremerhaven and Leopoldina member since 2009. Her research is focused on microbes living on sea sediments, impacting the global climate. For her research and for her engagement in science communication she has been awarded the Communicator-Preis of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and the Deutscher Umweltpreis in 2018.

Further Information

“Nature – Science – Society” Programme of the Leopoldina Annual Assembly 2018

Member profile of Antje Boetius