2002-2003 Science Planning Summary

Oceans & Climate

Dr. Bernhard Lettau
Program Manager


NSF/OPP 98-15140
Station: McMurdo Station
RPSC POC: Curt LaBombard
Research Site(s): Dry Valleys

Measurement of combustion effluent carbonaceous aerosols in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica
Dr. Anthony D. Hansen
Magee Scientific Company

Deploying Team Members: Anthony D Hansen . Joseph D Mastroianni
Research Objectives: Though Antarctica remains comparatively pristine, there is heightened awareness of the impact the human presence and scientific work being undertaken there could have. To continue a series of assessments of the long-term environmental impact of the U.S. Antarctic Program's operations, project team membes plan to generate a database detailing the abundance of carbonaceous aerosols in the McMurdo Dry Valleys.

The Mcurdo Dry Valleys support a fragile, nutrient-limited ecosystem that could be significantly affected by human activities. Of special concern are deposits of particles from carbonaceous aerosols ("black carbon"). These could result from the exhaust of diesel power generators and helicopter operations that support the Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) in the Dry Valleys. It is even possible that combustion products from McMurdo Station about 100 kilometers away could migrate to the study area. For three austral summers, this group will install air-pollution monitoring equipment at the Lake Hoare and Lake Bonney camp sites in the McMurdo Dry Valleys LTER study region to detect emissions from camp activities, diesel generator use, and helicopter exhaust. This data will help assess the environmental impact of human activities in this fragile ecosystem, and will help quantitate the environmental benefit of conversion to solar power at the camps.

In this final year of the project, the equipment will be deployed in autonomous, solar-powered "Instrumentation Support Units." These units will include radio communications interfaced directly to the Internet, allowing a remote user to download data and monitor the performance of the thermal and electrical systems as well as the scientific payload.

Field Season Overview:
Upon arrival at McMurdo Station, researchers will test their solar-powered Transportable Autonomous Instrumentation Support Units (TAISUs) to ensure they are operational. The field team will then travel by helicopter to the Dry Valleys, beginning with Lake Hoare. There they will install, test, and connect the TAISU by local radio modem to the Internet network interface at McMurdo Station. The field team will then move to Lake Bonney and set up a second TAISU.

When both units are functioning and connected to the Internet, the field team will return to McMurdo Station. One team member will remain at McMurdo Station for a week to finalize the software interface and any communications issues. The instrument modules will run automatically until the end of the 2002-2003 summer season. Support contractor personnel will remove both instruments at the end of the season and return them to the research team's home institution.