2022-2023 Science Planning Summary
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2022-2023 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

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

Photo by Peter Rejcek, courtesy of the USAP Photo Library.
C-020-L/P Research Location(s): West Antarctic Peninsula


Event Number:
NSF / OPP Award 2224611

Program Director:
Dr. Francisco (Paco) Moore

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

Principal Investigator(s)

Dr. Deborah Steinberg
Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences
Department of Biological Sciences

Project Web Site:


Supporting Stations: ARSV Laurence M. Gould, Palmer Station
Research Locations: West Antarctic Peninsula


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 West 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 on the ARSV Laurence M. Gould and at Palmer Station will use moorings, numerical modeling, oceanographic cruises, and environmental sampling to address core hypotheses.

Field Season Overview

Palmer Station

Two team members will use net tows and acoustic surveys to sample the zooplankton and ichthyofaunal communities and collect live fishes for thermal tolerance experiments. Net tows and concurrent acoustic surveys will be carried out twice per week at PAL-LTER Station E from a Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boat (RHIB) equipped with a research winch and hull-mounted EK80 and occasionally at Station B for larval fishes. Hook and line fishing will be conducted opportunistically to collect fishes that are too large to be captured effectively by net tows. Twice weekly trips with other PAL-LTER groups into the Palmer Deep Canyon (Adelie penguin foraging area) and Bismarck Strait (gentoo penguin foraging) will be conducted through the field season.

ARSV Laurence M. Gould

The sampling region extends from Palmer Station south to Charcot Island and from onshore to the continental shelf break adjacent to the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. Ecological and biogeochemical processes are studied by combining the ship and zodiac measurements with data collected from drifting sediment traps and physical oceanographic moorings. They will conduct several two to three day Process Studies in selected areas to study key processes in greater detail than possible at the regular grids stations. Several graduate students are conducting PhD Thesis research in close collaboration with the field teams. Their research is a central part of the overall objectives.

Deploying Team Members

  • Andrew Corso
  • Tor Mowatt-Larssen
  • Meredith Nolan