Profiles of Leading Women Scientists on AcademiaNet.
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Photo: Alfred Wegener Institute / Kerstin Rolfes
Research Priorities: Polar research, biological oceanography, marine microbiology, deep-sea ecosystems, molecular ecology, geomicrobiology
Antje Boetius is a German marine researcher and microbiologist who specialises in questions regarding marine material cycles and biodiversity as well as the investigation of deep-sea ecosystems using underwater robots. Her research currently focuses on the effects of climate change on the Arctic Ocean’s biogeochemistry and biodiversity.
Director of the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) in Bremerhaven, she is currently focusing on the effects of climate change on the biogeochemistry and biodiversity of the Arctic Ocean. Antje Boetius researches microorganisms that live on parts of the ocean floor and have a sizeable, long-term impact on the earth system. Large amounts of methane develop in the deep sea, which is stored as methane hydrates in the ocean floor or escapes as gas. Antje Boetius discovered microbial communities that break down a large part of this methane without needing oxygen to do so. This process is of great significance for methane flows in the oceans as well as for the climate system. After all, these microbial communities prevent large amounts of the greenhouse gas methane, 25 times more harmful for the climate than CO2 , from escaping into the atmosphere. Antje Boetius was the first to be able to assign previously unknown microorganisms to this process of anaerobic methane oxidation, AOM for short. She is currently investigating the diversity of deep-sea communities beneath the Arctic ice as well as the effects on the sea floor’s ecosystem when polymetallic nodules are removed.
Boetius’ work decisively contributes to the understanding of a significant process in the global climate cycle. The earth scientist is currently investigating the deep-sea organisms beneath the Arctic ice and the effects of global warming on polar ecosystems.
The majority of Antje Boetius’ work takes place on the high seas. Since 1989 she has participated in some 50 expeditions on German and foreign research ships and taken and analysed probes using numerous innovation methods.