Maya Bhatia is interested in biogeochemical processes in glacial environments and the role of climate change in modulating these processes. The goal of her PhD research is to characterize the dynamics of carbon, nutrient, and metal export from large ice sheets to the ocean. Since 2007, Maya, together with her advisors Sarah Das (G&G) and Elizbeth Kujawinski (MC&G), has been doing field work and collecting samples along the rapidly warming and understudied western margin of the Greenland ice sheet, an area capable of contributing large amounts of meltwater and associated material to the surrounding North Atlantic ocean. Maya uses numerous chemical techniques, including naturally-occurring radioisotopes and bulk- and molecular-level carbon analyses, to examine the interdependence of water sources and biogeochemical cycles beneath glaciers. Export of nutrients/metals and labile carbon from the Greenland ice sheet can affect downstream marine primary productivity, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, and regional carbon cycling. Biogeochemical cycles beneath glaciers may also have paleoclimate implications as microbial oxidation or fermentation of the subglacial organic carbon may have produced significant amounts of carbon dioxide or methane over past glacial periods.
Last updated: April 4, 2012