2020-2021 USAP Field Season
Palmer, Antarctica Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER): land-shelf-ocean connectivity, and ecosystem resilience and transformation, in a sea-ice influenced pelagic ecosystem
Dr. Oscar Schofield
Supporting Stations: ARSV Laurence M. Gould, Palmer Station
Seasonal sea ice-influenced marine ecosystems at both poles are regions of high productivity concentrated in space and time by local, regional, and remote physical forcing. These polar ecosystems are among the most rapidly changing on Earth. The Palmer Long Term Ecological Research (PAL-LTER) project seeks to build on three decades of long-term research along the West Antarctic Peninsula (WAP) to gain new mechanistic and predictive understanding of ecosystem changes in response to disturbances spanning long-term, decadal, and higher-frequency “pulse” changes driven by a range of processes, including natural climate variability, long-term climate warming, resiliency/recovery in the face of press versus pulse forcing, transformed spatial landscapes, and food-web alterations. We will contribute to fundamental understanding of population and biogeochemical responses for a marine ecosystem experiencing profound change.
Field Season Overview
Due to COVID restrictions, a participant of the C-013 project will embark on the ARSV Laurence M. Gould cruise, boarding the ship in Punta Arenas in late December. The reduced personnel due to the COVID outbreak will likely result in another LTER team member aiding in C-013 research. The vessel will drop two researchers at Avian Island where they will establish a field camp and conduct research for five days. When onboard and underway, the participant records observations from the bridge. Researchers will be dropped off at the Dion Islands to deploy remote cameras to record the potential breeding behavior of emperor penguins and researches will conduct population censuses at other accessible islands of interest along the WAP as possible.
The Palmer Station component of the project will deploy from roughly mid October until mid April. Due to the COVID outbreak, only two team members will live at Palmer Station while conducting their research (colony surveys and tag deployment/recovery), with a total of four LTER members that will also contribute to field work when possible. While sampling will be much reduced this year, the team will use small boats to access local islands in the Palmer vicinity and will make frequent day trips to seabird colonies in the extended boating area including Dream Island, Biscoe Point, the Joubin Islands, the Wauwermans Islands, and the Rosenthal Islands.
Deploying Team Members