2018-2019 Science Planning Summaries
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2018-2019 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

Antarctica as a model system for responses of terrestrial carbon balance to warming

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B-086-P Research Location(s): Palmer Station backyard and Stepping Stones Islands


Event Number:

Program Manager:
Dr. Jennifer Burns / Dr. Christian Fritsen

ASC POC/Implementer:
Rachel Shackelford

Principal Investigator(s)

Dr. Natasja nmi van Gestel
Texas Tech University
Lubbock, Texas


Supporting Stations: Palmer Station
Research Locations: Palmer Station backyard and Stepping Stones Islands


This study will investigate carbon transformation processes and the microbial communities that are responsible for such transformations in soils of the Antarctic Peninsula. Researchers will examine net ecosystem carbon balance among soils with different exposure ages that have been uncovered by retreating glaciers. Researchers will identify individual members of the soil microbial community that are active versus those that are not active. This will create a better understanding of the fundamental processes of community succession in the Antarctic environment and whether continued warming could lead to community shifts in the active portion of the communities.

Field Season Overview

Team members will deploy to Palmer Station from December through April in order to overlap with the exposure and warming of soils. They will set out open-top chambers and collect environmental data and soil samples in four snow- and ice-free areas across a productivity gradient. Three of these sites are in exposed areas of the Palmer Station backyard and the fourth is on Stepping Stones Islands. Each site has five open-top chambers paired with five control plots and will be sampled once every two weeks. The team will make most of their measurements in the field but will also conduct a small number of nutrient analyses in the laboratory.

Deploying Team Members

  • Bruce Hungate
  • Kelly McMillen
  • Alicia Purcell
  • Natasja van Gestel (PI)