Internationally known researcher and Colorado State University scientist Diana Wall has spent more than 21 seasons in Antarctica studying the effects of climate change on ecosystems and exploring soil biodiversity and survival of organisms in this harsh continent.
Wall’s expertise in terrestrial ecosystems of Antarctica led the National Research Council to invite her to participate in a committee on “Future Science Opportunities in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.” The committee’s report was released earlier this month.
The group was tasked with providing guidance on the future of the Antarctic Program to the National Science Foundation and Office of Science Technology Policy and the Office of Management and Budget. Among the recommendations were that the United States should design and implement improved mechanisms for international collaboration and lead development of a large-scale, interdisciplinary observing network.
The National Research Council report also highlights the important areas of research and the many challenges scientists face in a continent dedicated solely for research.
“Conducting scientific research in the harsh environmental conditions of Antarctica is logistically challenging,” according to the report, “Substantial resources are needed to establish and maintain the infrastructure needed to provide heat, light, transportation, and drinking water in Antarctica, while at the same time minimizing the pollution of the environment and ensuring the safety of researchers.”
Wall’s journeys and exploration of Antarctica have provided professors and scientists around the country with information about the role of soil biodiversity in carbon cycling and other ecosystem services. Wall, who is a biologist in the College of Natural Sciences, is one of only a dozen University Distinguished Professors at Colorado State.
Wall also recently participated in a working group for the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, which submitted a report to President Obama that calls for improved accounting of ecosystem services and greater protection of environmental capital to strengthen the nation’s economy.