This week we heard the news that former Carmel Geographer Jack McElhinney is currently in Antarctica conducting marine research!

After leaving Camel in 2012, Jack went on to study a BSc Hons in Environmental Science at Manchester Metropolitan University. He studied bats as indicators of ecosystem health for his final year project. While working with animals he became more interested in physiology and the mechanisms behind how animals behave. He spent a summer working with a marine ecology group monitoring the common dolphins in Portugal then later enrolled on an MSc in Advanced Biological Sciences at the University of Liverpool studying physiology and evolution.

He is now finishing his PhD at the University of Western Australia where he’s been researching the effect of warming oceans on fish, figuring out which species are the most vulnerable and the link between the ‘shrinking’ of fish and respiration.

Jack is currently visiting Antarctica conducting marine ecology surveys in the surrounding waters. Our Head of Geography, Kieron, caught up with him for an update this week.

Jack said “My first week in Antarctica has been an eye-opener. The Antarctic landscape is unlike anything else on Earth, it feels alien. With the gigantic ice-covered mountains that pierce the clouds and icebergs that bend light into an otherworldly blue, it’s quite easy to forget that we are on the same planet. The weather shifts from one state to another very quickly, there are moments of complete stillness in between the icy gusts where sound seems to be suspended and you can hear almost nothing interrupted by the thunderous cracks of ice moving in the distance.

“The Antarctic Peninsula is experiencing rapid warming, temperatures have risen by about 2.8°C in the past half a century and the glaciers are retreating. This warming is particularly important because the surrounding waters are rich in nutrients which support a diverse range of marine life, including krill, a crucial species in the Antarctic food web. Changes in temperature and sea ice patterns here can affect the entire ecosystem.”

Thanks so much to Jack for taking the time to provide an update. We wish you all the best for the future.

Find out more about studying Geography at Carmel on our subject page.