Human Impacts in Antarctica

What Are They Doing?

Antarctica represents one of the most strictly-monitored habitats on Earth. In addition to the desire to protect the flora, fauna, and atmosphere of a relatively pristine environment, Antarctica serves as a baseline barometer of global pollution. McMurdo Station is the largest human community on the Antarctic continent and as part of its obligations under the Antarctic Treaty's Protocol on Environmental Protection the U.S. is developing a long-term monitoring program designed to describe the environmental conditions in and around the station and to scrutinize any anthropogenic impacts that can be foreseen or detected. Ms. Linsley and the research team conducted environmental monitoring and sampling of chemical, physical, and biological variables in and around McMurdo Station from both marine and terrestrial habitats as measures of human impact and used GIS techniques to track them over time. The results of this research helped document and minimize the impacts of future science and support operations in Antarctica.

Where Are They?

The team lived and worked around McMurdo Station in Antarctica. McMurdo is the largest station in Antarctica with more than 100 buildings, a harbor, landing strip and helicopter pad. More than 1000 people live and work at McMurdo Station during the austral summer!

Expedition Map

Journals

Reflections of a Journey of a Lifetime! I have been back in the world that I know now for almost 30 days and on many days I contemplate how others whose paths I crossed are doing, what the latest storm was like, how the sea looks with the sea ice melted, or yearn for the solitude and relative simplicity of life almost 16,000 miles south of Houston.  I had set out to fill in one of those "white spaces” in my mental map of the world and have since gained a better perspective.  These "white spaces” are places that even your furthest imagination or multiple versions of Hollywood films and PBS...
December 15, 2007, Christchurch , New Zealand Present Conditions: Quite Balmy, nice breeze, warm (relative) drizzly weather; 22C. Last night we returned to Christchurch from McMurdo.  The C-17 that brought us back to the world north of 70 degrees south latitude included 68 other researchers and a few employees.  Many of the Andrill scientists and some of their equipment came with us.   We arrived in Christchurch, cleared customs and returned our cold weather gear to the distribution center and set off for our hotels. Our plane to carry us back to Christchurch  Polar Plunge!! The night...
December 10, 2007, Monday McMurdo Station, Antarctica 11:00pm High: +32F wind chill: +21F Low:  +18F    wind chill  +7F Winds: S8- 12 knts; Station Pressure: 28.7800” Present Conditions: Partly cloudy, mild temperatures, prevailing low pressure system A Day at the Beach!! On Monday we were finally able to fly out to Cape Bird.  Cape Bird is on the edge of where the sea ice is breaking up.   The beach area is a perfect nesting place for the Adelie penguin.  We flew out to the cape in a helicopter- my first time in a helo.  The flight was relatively short- about 45 minutes each way, just...
December 10, 2007, Monday McMurdo Station, Antarctica 2:00pm High: +32F wind chill: +21F Low:  +18F    wind chill  +7F Winds: S8- 12 knts; Station Pressure: 28.7800” Present Conditions: Partly cloudy, mild temperatures, prevailing low pressure system Saturday we were supposed to fly out to Cape Bird to take a control set of soil samples and as a side benefit see the penguin rookeries.  However, for a second time we were cancelled because of clouds hanging between an area known as the saddle, the pass between Mt. Erebus and Mt.Terror.  Apparently NSF does not allow the helicopters to fly...
December 7, 2007, Friday McMurdo Station, Antarctica Special Edition to the Daily Journal: Meet the Station Doctor   This morning was the IPY broadcast and we were delayed from yesterday due to weather from going to Cape Evans.  We have one last set of sediment samples to take but the penguins are the primary attraction.    So today is the perfect chance to introduce you to the Chief Docter at McMurdo Station, Dr. Harry Owens.       Dr. Harry Owens   The story of Dr. Owen's.....   Dr. Owen's says he is based out of Oregon but that is just another place on the adventures of a...

Expedition Resources

Project Information

Dates: 12 November 2007 to 20 December 2007
Location: McMurdo Station, Antarctica
Project Funded Title: Monitoring the Effects of Human Activities at McMurdo Station, Antarctica

Meet the Team

Ann Linsley's picture
Bellaire High School
Bellaire, TX
United States

Ann Linsley has taught human and physical Geography for the past 19 years at Bellaire High School in Bellaire, Texas. Ms. Linsley is also a consultant for her College Board, the National Geographic Society, and the Texas Alliance for Geographic Education. She is particularly interested in helping students apply geographic concepts through field exercises including studies in urban, rural, and natural environments. Ms. Linsley has received various teaching awards from the National Council for Geographic Education, her College Board, and her school district, among other student nominated awards. Ms. Linsley holds a Bachelors degree in Russian language, a Masters in gifted and talented Education, and a Masters in Geosciences.

Mahlon Kennicutt II's picture
Texas A&M University
College Station, TX
United States

Mahlon "Chuck" Kennicutt's research interests include environmental chemistry and organic geochemistry. His current research investigates the patterns of human disturbance at McMurdo Station. He has spent more than 575 days at sea and has deployed to Antarctica six times. Dr. Kennicutt serves as leader of the Sustainable Coastal Margins Program and is the United States delegate to, and the Vice President for, Scientific Affairs (USA) of the Scientific Committee of Antarctica Research (SCAR).

April Gossman's picture
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi
Corpus Christi, TX
United States
Andrew Klein's picture
Texas A&M University
College Station, TX
United States

Andrew Klein is an associate professor in the Department of Geography at Texas A&M University. He received a B.A. from Macalester College and a Ph.D. in Geological Sciences from Cornell University. His current research interests lie in the application of remote sensing and geographic information systems (GIS) techniques to studying the cryosphere and the impact of humans in and around McMurdo Station, Antarctica.

Stephen Sweet's picture
Texas A&M University
College Station, TX
United States

Stephen Sweet is a geochemist from the Geochemical and Environmental Research Group at Texas A&M University. His research interests have focused on environmental monitoring and assessment. He has participated in a number of scientific research programs in Antarctica, with seven deployments to both the Antarctic Peninsula and Ross Island. Dr. Sweet has been involved with the project investigating the spatial and temporal patterns of human disturbance at McMurdo Station for the past seven years.

Terry Palmer's picture
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi
Corpus Christi, TX
United States