2017-2018 Science Planning Summaries
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2017-2018 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

Palmer, Antarctica Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER): Land-shelf-ocean connectivity, ecosystem resilience and transformation in a sea-ice influenced pelagic ecosystem

no photo available


Event Number:
NSF/OPP Award 1440435

Program Manager:
Dr. Jennifer Burns

ASC POC/Implementer:
Samina Ouda / Jamee Johnson / Adam Jenkins

Principal Investigator

Dr. Ari Seth Friedlaender

University of California Santa Cruz
Institute of Marine Sciences
Santa Cruz, California

Project Web Site:


Supporting Stations: ARSV Laurence M. Gould, Palmer Station
Research Locations: Palmer Station small-boat operations area


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

Team members will deploy on the annual LTER cruise on the ARSV Laurence M. Gould from early January to early February. The cruise will consist of 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. There will also be a one day annual visit to the UK station, Rothera. Small boats will be used to deploy suction cup/satellite tags on baleen whales and to deploy an Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) for collecting whale measurements and condition.

Two project participants will be based at Palmer Station from early January through early April and will use a dedicated small boat for visual surveys of marine mammals, quantitative prey mapping, biopsy sampling, and possible suction cup tag deployment and recovery. When a second small boat is able to accompany the team, these studies will take place in the extended boating area around Palmer Station.

Deploying Team Members

  • Julian Dale
  • James Fahlbusch
  • Rushworth Kelvin
  • Greg Larsen
  • Ross Nichols
  • Douglas Nowacek (Co-PI)
  • Logan Pallin