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

Project Title

Reconstructing late Holocene ecosystem and climate shifts from peat records in the western Antarctic Peninsula

Peat-forming ecosystems (aerobic peatbanks on rocky slopes, and waterlogged peatlands in lowland depressions) at Cape Rasmussen on the mainland Antarctic Peninsula.
Photo by: Zicheng Yu
G-094-P Research Location(s): Western Antarctic Peninsula


Event Number:
NSF/OPP Award 1745068

Program Manager:
Dr. Douglas Kowalewski

ASC POC/Implementer:
David Rivera / Cara Ferrier

Principal Investigator(s)

Dr. Zicheng Yu
Lehigh University
Earth and Environmental Sciences
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania


Supporting Stations: Palmer Station
Research Locations: Western Antarctic Peninsula


Peat-forming ecosystems archive their own long-term history of ecosystem and climate changes in the accumulated peat deposits. Using proxy records preserved in peat deposits, this group will undertake a systematic survey and study to reconstruct ecosystem and climate change for the coastal low-elevation areas on the Western Antarctic Peninsula (WAP). Preliminary data show a pronounced warming of up to 6° C about 2,300 to 1,200 calendar years before present, in the terrestrial ice-free area of the mainland peninsula. The researcher's goal is to document and understand the transformations of the cryosphere as well as terrestrial ecosystems on the WAP in response to large-magnitude temperature shifts during the Late Holocene.

Field Season Overview

A three-person science team will conduct field observations and survey various peat-forming ecosystems using small boats from Palmer Station and the ARSV Laurence M. Gould. The team will install two microclimate stations and data loggers at Norsel Point and at a site in the Joubin or Gossler Islands. They will make reconnaissance trips using the Palmer Station rigid-hull inflatable boats (RHIBs) to help determine exact site locations. At each sample site, peat cores, peat basal samples, plant samples, and “dead” mosses re-exposed from retreating ice will be collected. Peat cores will be taken with a custom coring device. Some data retrieval and maintenance may be required from support contractor marine technicians and research associates.

Deploying Team Members

  • Jonathan Stelling
  • Zicheng Yu (PI)