2016-2017 Science Planning Summaries
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2016-2017 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

McMurdo LTER - Lakes: Increased connectivity in a polar desert resulting from climate warming: McMurdo Dry Valleys LTER Program

Instrument station on Lake Hoare in Tayor Valley measuring lake and surface parameters year-round.
Photo by Maciej Obryk


Event Number:

Program Manager:
Dr. Paul Cutler

ASC POC/Implementer:
Jenny Cunningham / Elizabeth Kauffman

Principal Investigator

Dr. Peter Doran

Louisiana State University Baton Rouge
Department of Geology and Geophysics
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Project Web Site:


Supporting Stations: McMurdo Station
Research Locations: Dry Valleys


Initially funded in 1980, the U.S. Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) network is a collaborative effort involving more than 1,800 scientists and students. The McMurdo LTER program is an inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary study of the aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems in the ice-free McMurdo Dry Valleys. It is one of 26 LTER sites where researchers are studying ecological processes over long temporal and broad spatial scales. Researchers on this project will focus on the physical limnology of the McMurdo Dry Valleys lakes. This year's goals are: (1) To upgrade and maintain long-term automated lake-monitoring equipment; (2) Carry out manual lake hydrologic balance measurements (lake level and ablation); (3) Measure the movement of surface ice using high-precision GPS; (4) Characterize signatures and patterns of benthic productivity (using SCUBA); and (5) Collect sediment and water samples for a suite of geochemical experiments. This six-year award cycle comprises seven collaborative projects: C-504-M (Gooseff), C-505-M (Priscu), C-506-M (Gooseff), C-507-M (Wall), C-508-M (Barrett), C-509-M (Lyons), and C-511-M (Doran).

Field Season Overview

Participants will be based at the established field camps Fryxell, Bonney, and Hoare, with an extended stay at Lake Miers, and will make day trips by helicopter to Wright and Victoria Valleys. With UNAVCO's assistance, they will also survey established ablation stakes in the Taylor Valley. Several sensors and dataloggers on the meteorological and lake stations will be swapped out and sent back to the manufacturer for recalibration. The replaced meteorological sensors and dataloggers will remain in the field for two to five years. The team will also be diving at the narrows between the west and east lobes of Lake Bonney in order to image and survey the lake bottom and to collect samples. This is a collaborative endeavor with Ian Hawes of the Antarctica New Zealand program.

Deploying Team Members

  • Peter Doran (PI)
  • Jade Lawrence
  • Krista Myers (Team Leader)
  • Luke Winslow