Virtual Base Camp

Expeditions by Year

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 Antarctica can be found here starting in 2007 to 2015. You can also access archived expeditions to the Arctic that took place through TREC in 2004-2006. Journals, photos, ask the team forums, and information about each expedition can be found by following the links to all the expeditions. Use the Expedition Search feature to narrow your choices or find a particular expedition or region. Use the Members feature to find teachers and researchers involved with PolarTREC expeditions.

A new feature to the Virtual Base Camp are Projects. Projects are expeditions that had teachers for more than one year. You can learn more about the science and see all the teachers and researchers involved in the research project over two or more years. You can also access all the related project resources (presentations, lessons, PolarConnect events, etc.) related to the projects.

Current Expeditions

The Nathaniel B. Palmer icebreaker. Photo by Jillian Worssam.
Dates:
1 September 2016 to 17 October 2016
Location:
Western Antarctic Peninsula, aboard the R/V Palmer
Cara Pekarcik's picture
Teacher: Cara Pekarcik
What Are They Doing?
Sunrise over the Southern Ocean. Photo by Jillian Worssam. This project focuses on an important group of photosynthetic algae in the Southern Ocean (SO), diatoms, and the roles associated bacterial communities play in modulating their growth. Diatom growth fuels the food web in the SO and balances atmospheric carbon dioxide by sequestering the carbon used for growth to the deep ocean on...

2016

A view of McMurdo Station from Ob Hill. McMurdo Station, Antarctica.
Dates:
4 January 2016 to 27 January 2016
Location:
McMurdo Station / Estación McMurdo
Juan Botella's picture
Teacher: Juan Botella
What Are They Doing?
2014 team members Paul and Sam removing neutron monitor tubes. Photo from UWRF Blog We will be performing maintenance on the neutron monitors. The neutron monitors are used to study the sun, which occasionally undergoes solar storms that produce bursts of energetic particles. We are interested in learning more about the energy range and abundance of the particles produced in these events...
A Weddell seal near McMurdo Station, Antarctica
Dates:
11 January 2016 to 18 February 2016
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 Weddell seal haul out sites on the sea ice near McMurdo Station. While on location, the team will find female seals that they had handled approximately two months earlier, and recapture the females to assess changes in their health, condition and behavior over the summer months. To do so,...
NASA's P-3 Orion for Operation IceBridge. Photo by Russell Hood.
Dates:
20 April 2016 to 19 May 2016
Location:
Kangerlussuaq, Thule AFB, Greenland
Kelly McCarthy's picture
Teacher: Kelly McCarthy
What Are They Doing?
Glacial ice surrounds a mountain in Greenland. Photo by Russell Hood. 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...
A view of Kangerlussuaq, Greenland. Photo by Emily Dodson.
Dates:
3 June 2016 to 30 June 2016
Location:
Kangerlussuaq, Greenland
Anne Schoeffler's picture
Teacher: Anne Schoeffler
What Are They Doing?
Researcher Christine Urbanowicz supplements a flower by painting pollen onto the stigma. Photo by Emily Dodson. 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...
Toolik Field Station, Alaska. Photo by Lauren Watel.
Dates:
9 June 2016 to 10 July 2016
Location:
Toolik Field Station, AK
DJ Kast's picture
STEM Programs Manager: DJ Kast
What Are They Doing?
Samples are gathered to test the microbial community composition at Toolik Lake, Alaska. Photo by Lauren Watel. 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...
A tugboat pushes the barge past the old river port of Cherskiy, Russia. Photo by Mark Paricio.
Dates:
16 June 2016 to 21 July 2016
Location:
Cherskiy, Russia at the Northeast Scientific Station
Stanley Skotnicki's picture
What Are They Doing?
Peter Ganzlin and Bradi Jo Petronio at one of their moss plots. Photo by Mark Paricio. The goal of our project is to understand how terrestrial ecosystems influence permafrost temperatures. There are places in the Arctic where climate is warming but permafrost temperatures are stable, while at other places permafrost temperatures are rising rapidly with climate. Soil and vegetation that sit...
The CiPEHR study site in early summer. Photo by John Wood.
Dates:
18 June 2016 to 18 August 2016
Location:
Approximately 8 miles off the Parks highway, near Healy, Alaska
Karen Temple-Beamish's picture
What Are They Doing?
The CiPEHR study site in early summer. Photo by John Wood. The carbon cycle is the means by which carbon is moved between the world's soils, oceans, atmosphere, and living organisms. Northern tundra, permafrost, ecosystems play a key role in the carbon cycle because the cold, moist, and frozen soils trap organic material and slow their decomposition. This very slowly decaying organic...
A ribbon seal on the Chukchi Sea. Photo by Andrea Skloss.
Dates:
29 June 2016 to 12 August 2016
Location:
USCGC Healy, Northern Chukchi Sea
Sandra Thornton's picture
Teacher: Sandra Thornton
What Are They Doing?
A ribbon seal on the Chukchi Sea. Photo by Andrea Skloss. The Arctic Ocean is one of the most remote locations on Earth and the area where the impact of climate change may be most strongly expressed. In the Chukchi Borderlands (CBL) area, water masses from the Arctic, Pacific and Atlantic oceans meet and interact over tremendously complex bottom topography, creating intricate currents and...
A thermokarst at Wolverine Lake, near Toolik Lake, Alaska. Photo by Lauren Watel.
Dates:
30 June 2016 to 24 July 2016
Location:
Toolik Field Station, AK
Ivy McDaniel's picture
Teacher: Ivy McDaniel
What Are They Doing?
A thermokarst at Wolverine Lake, near Toolik Lake, Alaska. Photo by Lauren Watel. Team Announcement: Due to unexpected circumstances, Ivy McDaniel will not be going to the field this season with the research team. 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...
A crack in the soil amid tundra plants near a thermokarst. Photo by Regina Brinker.
Dates:
12 August 2016 to 6 September 2016
Location:
Toolik Field Station, Alaska (and Healy, Alaska)
Nell Kemp's picture
Teacher: Nell Kemp
What Are They Doing?
A crack in the soil amid tundra plants near a thermokarst. Photo by Regina Brinker. Below the surface of arctic tundra is a matrix of soil, roots, and fungal hyphae that may play a critical role in the trajectory of future climate change. For millennia arctic plants have persisted in cold, wet, and shallow soils underlain with permafrost, permanently frozen ground, in many regions of the...
The Nathaniel B. Palmer icebreaker. Photo by Jillian Worssam.
Dates:
1 September 2016 to 17 October 2016
Location:
Western Antarctic Peninsula, aboard the R/V Palmer
Cara Pekarcik's picture
Teacher: Cara Pekarcik
What Are They Doing?
Sunrise over the Southern Ocean. Photo by Jillian Worssam. This project focuses on an important group of photosynthetic algae in the Southern Ocean (SO), diatoms, and the roles associated bacterial communities play in modulating their growth. Diatom growth fuels the food web in the SO and balances atmospheric carbon dioxide by sequestering the carbon used for growth to the deep ocean on...
Pressure ridges form ice formations on the Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica. Photo by Gary Wesche.
Dates:
30 September 2016 to 12 November 2016
Location:
McMurdo Station, Antarctica
David Thesenga's picture
Teacher: David Thesenga
What Are They Doing?
Pressure ridges form ice formations on the Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica. Photo by Gary Wesche. The objective of our project is to understand the behavior of the McMurdo Shear Zone (SZ) in Antarctica through afour year integrated study involving field observation, satellite remote sensing, and numerical modeling. The SZ is a section of heavily crevassed ice that separates the slow-moving...
A sea spider underwater near McMurdo Station, Antarctica. Photo by Adam Marsh, Courtesy of Michael League.
Dates:
1 October 2016 to 15 November 2016
Location:
McMurdo Station, Antarctica
Timothy Dwyer's picture
Teacher: Timothy Dwyer
What Are They Doing?
A Weddell seal meets a cameraman under the sea ice near McMurdo Station, Antarctica. Photo by Steve Rupp, Courtesy of Michael League. Since the first expeditions to the poles, scientists have compiled a long list of polar taxa that have unusually large body sizes. This phenomenon is known as polar gigantism, and biologists have proposed many hypotheses to explain it. The most broadly-...
Punta Arenas, Chile. Photo by Amber Lancaster.
Dates:
15 October 2016 to 15 November 2016
Location:
Punta Arenas, Chile and airborne over Antarctica
Maggie Kane's picture
Teacher: Maggie Kane
What Are They Doing?
NASA's P-3 Orion aircraft. Photo by Mark Buesing. 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....