2017-2018 USAP Field Season
Palmer, Antarctica Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER): Land-shelf-ocean connectivity, ecosystem resilience and transformation in a sea-ice influenced pelagic ecosystem
Dr. Oscar Schofield
Project Web Site:
Supporting Stations: ARSV Laurence M. Gould, Palmer Station
Palmer Long-Term Ecological Research (PAL-LTER) started in 1990 to address the hypothesis that the annual sea ice cycle may be the major determinant of spatial/temporal changes in the structure and function of Antarctic marine communities. Research now includes bacteria, viruses, phytoplankton, krill, macrozooplankton, penguins, seabirds, and marine mammals. The PAL-LTER model traces the effects of changing climate, and the extent, duration, and seasonality of sea ice on ecosystem composition and dynamics in the Western Antarctic Peninsula, where satellite observations over the past 35 years indicate the average duration of sea ice cover is now about 90 days shorter. Six collaborative projects deploy on January’s ARSV Laurence M. Gould cruise and/or to Palmer Station. Team members use airborne and underwater vehicles, moorings, numerical modeling, oceanographic cruises, and environmental sampling to address core hypotheses.
Field Season Overview
One component of the C-019 science team will sail on the annual cruise aboard the ARSV Laurence M. Gould (LMG) to the LTER research grid west of the Antarctic Peninsula. The approximately 42-day-long cruise will include eight days of transit time to and from Punta Arenas, Chile; three days of cargo/science operations at Palmer Station; one day NOAA/NSF personnel transfer; and thirty days of LTER science operations.They will also make a one day annual visit to Rothera Station. The team will use a variety of techniques while at sea including net and acoustic tows, conductivity temperature depth (CTD) casts, Slocum gliders, and other profiling sensors.
The other component of the C-019 team will be based at Palmer Station from October through March. The team’s main research objectives while at Palmer Station are to: (1) maintain the Palmer phytoplankton time series measurements at LTER stations B and E; (2) launch of several gliders; (3) use the EK-80 sonar on the new Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs) to assess how plankton communities change spatially and temporally; (4) use a new Imaging Flow Cytobot to take pictures of individual phytoplankton cells from water collected on sampling days; and (5) continue to conduct several videoconferences with classrooms and other groups as part of the LTER mandated educational outreach effort.
Deploying Team Members