Center for Coastal Physical Oceanography & Institute for Coastal Adaptation and Resilience

Spring 2023 Virtual Seminar Series


University of Colorado Boulder

Monday, January 30, 2023
3:30 PM

Zoom link
Meeting ID: 952 0245 1284
Passcode: 485480


Antarctica is exceptional. The coldest, windiest, iciest, driest, and most remote of continents is widely celebrated for its rich history of exploration, science and diplomacy and for its exceptional beauty. It’s also exceptionally important. Since its discovery, scientists have documented how the Antarctic is vital to Earth systems. And despite the extreme environment, life thrives; this frozen seascape harbors some of the last remaining great wildernesses on the planet. However, fishing pressure – mostly for krill and toothfish – combined with cumulative impacts of climate change, jeopardizes the future of Antarctic life in the Southern Ocean. Extensive research supports that protected areas – areas that are off-limits to fishing and other human activities – can conserve biodiversity, and perhaps most importantly in the case of the Southern Ocean, can enhance resilience to climate change impacts. In 2016, states made history by designating the world’s largest marine protected area in the Ross Sea, Antarctica. This demonstrated international leadership and inspired hope that despite political tensions in other parts of the world, the Antarctic continues to be a great global commons dedicated to peace, science, and conservation. Despite working towards adopting an Antarctic-wide network of marine protected areas, conflicting economic and geopolitical interests have become a barrier in recent years. However, three additional large-scale Antarctic protected areas remain under discussion, with negotiations resuming in 2023, providing opportunities for states to again demonstrate leadership.


Dr. Brooks' drive to protect the ocean has taken her to all seven continents, though Antarctica holds her heart. She holds advanced degrees in Marine Science, Science Communication, and Environment and Resources, having completed her PhD at Stanford University. She’s worked in the lab, underwater, and at sea - including five research expeditions to Antarctica. Dr. Brooks was a core member of The Last Ocean, a grand-scale media project focused on protecting the Ross Sea. Her work helped drive the adoption of the world’s largest marine protected area in the Ross Sea, Antarctica, one of the healthiest marine ecosystems left on Earth. Currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Colorado Boulder, she continues her engaged scholarship and seeks to empower the next generations of environmental leaders.

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