November 21, 2014

Palmer Station, Antarctica (2008 through 2010)

Palmer, Antarctica Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) focuses on the marine ecosystem of the continental shelf along the western Antarctic Peninsula, one of the most rapidly warming places on the planet. The average winter temperature has increased by 6 degrees C since 1950 — more than 5 times the global mean. The rapid regional warming has resulted in declining sea ice duration and extent and profound changes in the ecosystem, exemplified by a 75% decline in Adélie penguins since the late 1970’s. Read the Palmer Blog.
adelie.sjp09 Scientific research in the LTER includes studies of:

  • sea ice and climate
  • phytoplankton and nutrient ecology
  • krill population dynamics
  • microbial ecology
  • carbon cycle
  • penguin demography

Palmer Station, operated by the US Antarctic Program and host for Palmer LTER and other scientific research projects, is located on Anvers Island, latitude 64.7 South, longitude 64.0 West, accessed via a 4-day sail from Punta Arenas, Chile (there is no routine air service). Palmer Station is a year-round research base with a maximum capacity of 45 including scientists and students, logistics support personnel, cooks, and a fulltime doctor.

A limited number of fellows spent a month between November 2009 and February 2010 with scientists studying the effects of climate change and ecosystem function on the Antarctic Peninsula. Fellows had the opportunity to participate in censuses and other studies of breeding penguins and in sampling of plankton and water column optical, chemical and physical properties with marine ecologists working at Palmer Station. In the lab, they assisted scientists and students during analysis of samples for properties such as bacterial abundance, chlorophyll, nutrients and zooplankton.