2018-2019 Science Planning Summaries
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2018-2019 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

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C-020-L/P Research Location(s): LTER study site


Event Number:
NSF/OPP Award 1440435

Program Manager:
Dr. Jennifer Burns

ASC POC/Implementer:
Samina Ouda / Jamee Johnson / Bruce Felix

Principal Investigator(s)

Dr. Deborah Steinberg
Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences
Department of Biological Sciences
Gloucester Point, Virginia

Project Web Site:


Supporting Stations: ARSV Laurence M. Gould, Palmer Station
Research Locations: LTER study site


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

Zooplankton Component: A team of five researchers will sail on the ARSV Laurence M. Gould to the LTER research grid west of the Antarctic Peninsula. The team will collect samples with a conductivity-temperature-depth (CTD) rosette and a variety of nets. They will use an acoustic towfish at process study stations to detect krill aggregations. At Palmer Station, two team members will use net tows and acoustic surveys to conduct sampling of the zooplankton community structure and grazing. Each station will consist of approximately five net tows. They will also collect live animals and water samples for zooplankton feeding experiments and will incorporate acoustic surveys and net tows with all LTER field teams, focusing on sampling krill swarms in predator foraging areas.

Deploying Team Members

  • John Conroy
  • Joseph Cope
  • Samuel Malmquist
  • Deborah Steinberg (PI)
  • Patricia Thibodeau
  • Leigh West