Virtual Base Camp

Expeditions by Year

News

2014 Expeditions have been posted! Check out the latest and greatest expedition members, locations, and science below.

Welcome to the Virtual Base Camp, the starting point for your exploration of the polar regions with PolarTREC teachers and researchers! PolarTREC expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic started in 2007 and will continue through 2015.

Current Expeditions

Lake Joyce, Antarctica
Dates:
10 October 2014 to 17 December 2014
Location:
Dry Valleys, Antarctica
Lucy Coleman's picture
Teacher: Lucy Coleman
What Are They Doing? Underwater microbial community in Lake Joyce, Antarctica The oldest fossil life on Earth consists of stromatolites, which are the remains of complicated communities of bacteria captured in rock. On modern Earth, similar communities still grow in places that are too harsh for worms, snails, and other grazing animals to live and eat them. Lakes in Antarctica with liquid water below a few...

2014

The icebreaker R/V Nathanial B. Palmer
Dates:
20 January 2014 to 18 March 2014
Location:
Totten Glacier and Moscow University Ice Shelf, East Antarctica aboard the R/V Palmer
Glenn Clark's picture
Teacher: Glenn Clark
What Are They Doing?
The Totten Glacier on the edge of the Southern Ocean, Antarctica This project will investigate the marine system of the Totten Glacier and Moscow University Ice Shelf, East Antarctica which has shown a recent increase in ice loss. This system is of critical importance because it drains one-eighth of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet and contains a volume equivalent to nearly 7 meters of...
Chilean and Russian research bases on King George Island, Antarctica
Dates:
13 February 2014 to 1 March 2014
Location:
Professor Julio Escudero base, King George Island, Antarctica
Juan Botella's picture
Teacher: Juan Botella
What Are They Doing?
Penguin rookeries on King George Island, Antarctica The students and teachers will spend five days on King George Island, learning about the scientific research conducted in and around Escudero base. The program could include visits to Elefanteras Beach to study seals and penguins, Collins Glacier where mosses, grasses, and algae may be found in the ice, and Bellingshausen Dome to discuss...
Research aircraft in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland
Dates:
5 April 2014 to 24 April 2014
Location:
Kangerlussuaq, Greenland
Russell Hood's picture
Teacher: Russell Hood
What Are They Doing?
Research aircraft in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland Operation IceBridge, a six-year NASA mission, is the largest airborne survey of Earth's polar ice ever conducted. IceBridge uses a highly specialized fleet of research aircraft and the most sophisticated science instruments ever assembled to characterize yearly changes in thickness of sea ice, glaciers, and ice sheets in the Arctic and Antarctic...
Arctic Ground Squirrel
Dates:
26 May 2014 to 19 June 2014
Location:
Toolik Field Station, Alaska
Andre Wille's picture
Teacher: Andre Wille
What Are They Doing?
Arctic Ground Squirrel In the Arctic, bright summers and dark winters are a fact of life and can lead humans to rely on clocks and routines to tell them when to eat or sleep, but how do animals function under these conditions? Circadian rhythms refer to the "internal body clock" that regulates the approximately 24-hour cycle of biological processes in animals and plants. Rhythms in body...
Dwarf Fireweed flower
Dates:
9 June 2014 to 30 June 2014
Location:
Kangerlussuaq, Greenland
Emily Dodson's picture
Teacher: Emily Dodson
What Are They Doing?
Dwarf Fireweed flower The research focuses on the interactions between plants and their pollinators, which are animals that aid in plant reproduction through transporting pollen. The aim is to understand how changes in temperature and precipitation may influence plant-pollinator interactions and plant reproduction. Temperature and water availability may alter the timing of flowering and...
A thermokarst failure on the tundra
Dates:
15 June 2014 to 6 July 2014
Location:
Toolik Field Station, Alaska
Regina Brinker's picture
Teacher: Regina Brinker
What Are They Doing?
A thermokarst failure on the tundra Tremendous stores of organic carbon frozen in permafrost soils have the potential to greatly increase the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. Permafrost soils may thaw sporadically and melting ground ice can cause land-surface sinking called "thermokarst failures". These failures change the rate and amount of carbon released with the unanticipated outcome...
The view from Toolik Field Station, Alaska
Dates:
15 June 2014 to 3 July 2014
Location:
Toolik Field Station, Alaska
Lauren Watel's picture
Teacher: Lauren Watel
What Are They Doing?
Spring thaw on the tundra outside of Toolik Lake, Alaska Microbial diversity has recently been found to show a pattern of organization at various scales. The research team attempts to answer three basic questions about microbial diversity and dispersal, focused on the long-term aspects of dispersal events and climate change: 1) How does environment influence microbial community composition...
The Big House at Summit Station, Greenland
Dates:
27 June 2014 to 18 July 2014
Location:
Kangerlussauq and Summit Station, Greenland
Lynn Reed's picture
Einstein Educator Fellow: Lynn Reed
What Are They Doing?
The tent city at Summit Station, Greenland The expedition members will visit several research sites in Greenland as part of an initiative to foster enhanced international scientific cooperation between the countries. The expedition members will spend several days learning about the research conducted in Greenland, the logistics involved in supporting the research, and gain first-hand...
Welcome to Barrow, Alaska
Dates:
14 July 2014 to 9 August 2014
Location:
Barrow, AK
Sian Proctor's picture
Teacher: Sian Proctor
What Are They Doing?
A view of the beach from downtown Barrow, Alaska Applied Research in Environmental Sciences Nonprofit, Inc., ARIES, the Barrow Arctic Science Consortium, BASC, the North Slope Borough of Risk Management, and Cooperative Extension of Ilisgavik College are collaborating to plan, develop and implement a historical ecology model for the North Slope Coastal Region of Alaska. Historical ecology...
The research base at Ny Ålesund, Svalbard
Dates:
21 July 2014 to 20 August 2014
Location:
Ny Alesund, Svalbard, Norway
Peggy McNeal's picture
Teacher: Peggy McNeal
What Are They Doing?
Working around the glaciers of Kongsfjord, Svalbard The Svalbard Archipelago has an arctic climate and is home to several large bodies of ice— alpine glaciers in the mountains, and tidewater glaciers that descend into the sea. For the past 10,000 years the glaciers of this region have been receding and more recently researchers have noted a regional reduction in sea ice. The research team...
Bowhead whale bones along the shore of the Arctic Ocean, Barrow, Alaska
Dates:
1 August 2014 to 1 September 2014
Location:
Barrow, AK
Lisa Seff's picture
Teacher: Lisa Seff
What Are They Doing?
Bowhead whale surfacing in the Arctic Ocean The research team will be working out of Barrow AK, at the juxtaposition of two Arctic seas; the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. It is a region frequently traveled by the endangered bowhead whale. This project had its genesis in understanding why the region near Barrow AK is a feeding hotspot for migrating bowhead whales and the whales and their prey...
A massive glacier in southwestern Greenland
Dates:
2 August 2014 to 22 August 2014
Location:
Greenland
Tina Ciarametaro's picture
Teacher: Tina Ciarametaro
What Are They Doing?
The terminus of a glacier near Kangerlussuaq, Greenland The retreat of glaciers is one of the most profound visual signs of global warming. Identifying the current magnitude of glacier retreat and its significance in the longer-term context of glacier history encourages a deeper understanding of what it means for society. The goal of this project is to provide a longer-term context for...
A seismic image of the ocean floor in the Drake Passage
Dates:
18 September 2014 to 25 October 2014
Location:
Research Vessel Nathaniel B. Palmer
Jillian Worssam's picture
Teacher: Jillian Worssam
What Are They Doing?
A seismic image of the ocean floor in the Drake Passage If the Antarctic ice sheet were to collapse or melt substantially it would impact all of humankind. This research attempts to reconstruct the paleogeography of parts of Antarctica while trying to determine the physical conditions that led to formation of the Antarctic ice sheet. The past opening of deep Southern Ocean gateways...
Lake Joyce, Antarctica
Dates:
10 October 2014 to 17 December 2014
Location:
Dry Valleys, Antarctica
Lucy Coleman's picture
Teacher: Lucy Coleman
What Are They Doing?
Underwater microbial community in Lake Joyce, Antarctica The oldest fossil life on Earth consists of stromatolites, which are the remains of complicated communities of bacteria captured in rock. On modern Earth, similar communities still grow in places that are too harsh for worms, snails, and other grazing animals to live and eat them. Lakes in Antarctica with liquid water below a few...
A Weddell seal near McMurdo Station, Antarctica
Dates:
1 November 2014 to 31 December 2014
Location:
McMurdo Station, Antarctica
Alex Eilers's picture
Teacher: Alex Eilers
What Are They Doing?
A Weddell seal near McMurdo Station, Antarctica (Photo by Alex Eilers) The team will travel daily to seal haul outs and work on the sea ice outside of McMurdo Station. While on the ice, the team will locate the seals, weigh them, measure them, collect blood and tissue samples, take thermal images of the seals, tag them, and then leave the seals alone until next research season. When the...
Transantarctic Mountains
Dates:
7 November 2014 to 16 December 2014
Location:
McMurdo and Mario Zuchelli Station, Antarctica
Brian DuBay's picture
Teacher: Brian DuBay
What Are They Doing?
The Transantarctic Mountains with a dusting of snow (Photo by Sarah Diers) Antarctica plays a central role in global tectonic evolution. Competing theories have been put forward to explain the formation of the Transantarctic Mountains (TAMs) and the Wilkes Subglacial Basin (WSB), primarily due to a lack of information on the crustal thickness and seismic velocity of these areas. The...
West Antarctica Ice Sheet (WAIS) Divide Galley, Antarctica
Dates:
1 December 2014 to 18 January 2015
Location:
West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) Divide
Yamini Bala's picture
Teacher: Yamini Bala
What Are They Doing?
Snow Drifts on the West Antarctica Ice Sheet (WAIS), Antarctica The research team will be studying the microstructure of ice crystals on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS). As the research title of their project implies, "VeLveT Ice", the team is researching what happens at the small scale of individual ice crystals ultimately affects the large flow patterns in an ice sheet. The group is...
Ice Cube Station at the South Pole, Antarctica
Dates:
1 December 2014 to 30 December 2014
Location:
South Pole, Antarctica
Armando Caussade's picture
Teacher: Armando Caussade
What Are They Doing?
The view down a 2.5 km drill hole used by the Ice Cube project How do you find something that isn't directly visible? That's the challenge faced by the team who developed the IceCube neutrino detector under the ice at the South Pole. Just as X-rays allow us to see bone fractures, and MRIs help doctors find damage to soft tissue, neutrinos will reveal new information about the Universe that...