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Follow the Carbon

The Arctic coast near Kaktovik, Alaska, where scientists from the Department of Geological Sciences conducted exploratory research.

As Alaska’s permafrost melts and degrades,what happens to the massive amount of carbon stored underneath in the form of frozen organic matter? Someof it may discharge with the melting water through underground cracks and seeps in the once-frozen landscape and end up in the Arctic Ocean.

That’s the working theory of University of Texas at Austin researchers Bayani Cardenas and Philip Bennett of the Department of Geological Sciences at the Jackson Schoolof Geosciences and associate professor Jim McClelland from the UT-Austin Department of Marine Science. The trio, funded by a seedgrant from the Jackson School and supported by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,conducted exploratory research on the Arctic coast near Kaktovik, Alaska, in August 2014. Greta Burkart, an aquatic ecologist with U.S.Fish and Wildlife Service, was also on the research trip.

Cardenas, Bennett and McClelland will likely return to the site in the summer of 2015 to continue the research.