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.

2008 Expeditions

Organization: 
Bellaire High School
Occupation: 
Teacher
Dates:
12 November 2007 to 20 December 2007
Location:
McMurdo Station, 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...
Organization: 
University of Kansas and the Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets (CReSIS)
Occupation: 
Teacher
Dates:
26 November 2007 to 1 January 2008
Location:
West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS), Antarctica
What Are They Doing?
Mr. Gillette and a team of researchers and technicians from the Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets (CReSIS) spent two months documenting conditions at the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) divide using a variety of techniques, including weather observations, GPS, ice coring, radar, and seismic sensing. The team characterized the base of the ice sheet by determining, for example, the amount of water and sediments under the ice, which were used to help interpret ice core data. Similar...
Organization: 
United Nations International School
Occupation: 
Teacher
Dates:
4 December 2007 to 16 January 2008
Location:
South Pole Station
What Are They Doing?
Ms. Bergholz traveled to Antarctica in 1999 as a TEA teacher to collect data on atmospheric ozone. Since then, ozone depletion and global warming have become even more urgent international concerns. Late 2007, Ms. Bergholz joined Dr. Hofmann once again at the NOAA Clean Air Facility at the South Pole Station to collect new data on atmospheric ozone, to compare with the data they collected in 1999. Ms. Bergholz and Dr. Hofmann measured the positive influences of the Montreal Protocol on...
Organization: 
NOAA Office of Education
Occupation: 
Teacher
Dates:
21 December 2007 to 29 January 2008
Location:
Antarctica
What Are They Doing?
Mr. Beckendorf and the team worked on the Antarctic Automatic Weather Stations Project deploying, supporting, and maintaining a network of instruments that take automated weather measurements throughout the year. The data are transmitted via satellite in real-time and the sites themselves require relatively little upkeep. Since the beginning of the project in 1980, there have been approximately 100 weather stations deployed across Antarctica, largely powered through solar energy. The Antarctic...
Organization: 
Central Middle School of Science
Occupation: 
Teacher
Dates:
11 March 2008 to 28 March 2008
Location:
Bering Sea
What Are They Doing?
A diverse team of researchers participated in the first of three research cruises in the spring and summer of 2008, aboard the USCGC Healy in support of the Bering Sea Ecosystem Study (BEST) and the Bering Sea Integrated Ecosystem Research Program (BSIERP). Scientists on board the ship documented late winter ocean conditions, studying the biological communities found in sea ice, examining the early spring plankton bloom, and investigating light penetration through open water and ice cover....
Organization: 
Western Washington University
Occupation: 
Graduate Student
Dates:
27 March 2008 to 6 May 2008
Location:
Bering Sea
What Are They Doing?
A diverse research team aboard the icebreaker, U.S. Coast Guard Cutter (USCGC) Healy conducted sampling along a series of transects over the eastern Bering Sea. Research on the ship is multidisciplinary, and was part of the Bering Ecosystem Study. The scientists on board used a variety of techniques to measure the productivity of the Bering Sea ecosystem. Measurements included temperature, salinity, nutrient content of the sea water, changes in sea ice cover, and the concentration of nutrients...
Organization: 
Zilker Elementary School
Occupation: 
Teacher
Dates:
12 April 2008 to 27 May 2008
Location:
Drake Passage
What Are They Doing?
This project studied the opening of the Drake Passage between South America and Antarctica through a combined marine geophysical survey and geochemical study of dredged ocean floor basalts. Dating the passage's opening is key to understanding the formation of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, which plays a major role in worldwide ocean circulation, and whose formation is connected with the growth of the Antarctic ice sheet. The samples that were collected were used in various geochemical...
Organization: 
Billings Senior High
Occupation: 
Teacher
Dates:
1 June 2008 to 12 July 2008
Location:
Summit, Greenland
What Are They Doing?
As snow falls, it carries whatever is in the air with it into the snowpack. Over the past decade, scientists have learned that the chemicals that accumulate in the snow over the long, dark arctic winter react rapidly when they are exposed to the sun in the spring. These sunlight-driven reactions (photochemistry) in snow release a number of pollutants to the lower atmosphere. A team of scientists worked at Summit, Greenland to find out how snow photochemistry affects the composition of the snow...
Organization: 
St. Mark Catholic School
Occupation: 
Teacher
Dates:
10 June 2008 to 18 July 2008
Location:
Barrow, Alaska
What Are They Doing?
The team continued their work from 2007, investigating the role of carbon in arctic tundra ecosystems. Approximately one quarter of the world's soil organic carbon is stored at high northern latitudes in permafrost and soils. As the arctic environment warms, this carbon may be released to the atmosphere in the form of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4). The goal of this project was to understand how changes in a warming and drying arctic environment may affect the...
Organization: 
Scarlett Middle School
Occupation: 
Teacher
Dates:
24 June 2008 to 26 July 2008
Location:
Toolik Field Station, Alaska
What Are They Doing?
Ms. Campbell worked with Donie Bret-Harte and a team of researchers who measured carbon, water, and energy fluxes at Toolik Field Station, Alaska. Their results were compared to findings from other arctic sites in Russia, Sweden, Greenland, and Canada to form a coordinated network of long-term observatories. Laura Gough and John Moore investigated how climate warming affects arctic plant and soil communities both above and below ground. For example, as the Arctic continues to warm, soil...
Organization: 
Sinagua Middle School
Occupation: 
Teacher
Dates:
30 June 2008 to 2 August 2008
Location:
Bering Sea
What Are They Doing?
A diverse research team aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter (USCGS) Healy conducted sampling along a series of transects over the eastern Bering Sea. Research on the ship was multidisciplinary, with scientists using a variety of techniques to document ocean conditions and the productivity of the Bering Sea ecosystem. Research teams measured the temperature, salinity, nutrient content of the sea water, changes in sea ice cover, and the concentration of nutrients used and released by phytoplankton...
Dates:
6 July 2008 to 12 July 2008
Location:
Greenland
What Are They Doing?
The expedition members spent five days learning about the research conducted in Greenland, the logistics involved in supporting the research, and had first-hand experience conducting experiments and developing inquiry-based educational activities. The 2008 work built on the 2007 expedition and was supported by the National Science Foundation. The project was developed through cooperation with the U.S.-Denmark-Greenland Joint Committee which was established in 2004 to broaden and deepen...
Organization: 
Chatham High School
Occupation: 
Teacher
Dates:
8 July 2008 to 16 August 2008
Location:
Svalbard, Norway
What Are They Doing?
The team traveled to Svalbard, Norway, located in the High Arctic, to investigate how high latitude glaciers, melt-water streams, and sedimentation in lakes and fjords respond to climate change. The Svalbard region has been marked by the retreat of glaciers, reductions in sea ice, and measurable warming throughout the Holocene period, and more specifically during the last 90 years. The Svalbard archipelago has preserved geologic records of climate change since the last ice age and into the 20th...
Organization: 
Whatcom Day Academy
Occupation: 
Teacher
Dates:
9 July 2008 to 1 September 2008
Location:
Kuril Islands, Russia
What Are They Doing?
An international team of American, Japanese, and Russian researchers and students examined the 5,000-year history of human-environmental interactions in the Kuril Island chain of Russia. The team combined studies of archaeology, geology, paleoecology, oceanography, and climatology to investigate the records of human settlement and abandonment on the Islands. They also surveyed the geologic evidence of volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis, past vegetation, marine conditions, and...
Organization: 
Chester-Andover Elementary School
Occupation: 
Teacher
Dates:
9 July 2008 to 16 August 2008
Location:
Barrow, Alaska
What Are They Doing?
As part of an ongoing project to document ancestral burials near Barrow, Alaska, an interdisciplinary team of archaeologists, physical anthropologists, geomorphologists, and community members worked together to excavate the Nuvuk cemetery and village at Point Barrow. The cemetery dates back at least 1200 years, contains several hundred shallow burials, and is rapidly eroding into the Arctic Ocean. The remains are likely to add significantly to our understanding of the ancient inhabitants of the...
Organization: 
Durham Academy
Occupation: 
Teacher
Dates:
16 July 2008 to 21 August 2008
Location:
Beaufort Sea
What Are They Doing?
Most of the time, prevailing winds cause a huge area of the Beaufort Sea to circulate in a clockwise (anticyclonic) direction; this circulation is know as the Beaufort Gyre. The Beaufort Gyre contains the major reservoir of fresh water stored in the Arctic Ocean, and learning more about how the Beaufort Gyre accumulates and releases fresh water as conditions change will improve understanding of ocean circulation in the Arctic Ocean. The Beaufort Gyre team measured ice thickness, ocean...
Organization: 
Rye Junior High
Occupation: 
Teacher
Dates:
13 October 2008 to 25 November 2008
Location:
Dry Valleys, Antarctica
What Are They Doing?
The McMurdo Dry Valleys Long-term Ecological Research (LTER) project is an interdisciplinary study of the aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems in a cold desert region of Antarctica. The McMurdo LTER project is one of 21 sites comprising the National Science Foundation’s LTER Network, where scientists conduct long-term ecological research in a broad array of ecosystems. Dr. Doran studies the lakes of the Dry Valleys. His team collects long-term data on the physical and chemical conditions within...
Organization: 
Los Angeles Valley College
Occupation: 
Associate Professor
Dates:
4 November 2008 to 15 December 2008
Location:
Dry Valleys, Antarctica
What Are They Doing?
A small team of earth scientists and engineers used a specialized drill to reach buried ice deposits in Beacon Valley – a part of the Dry Valleys region of Antarctica. Buried ice deposits represent a new and potentially far-reaching archive of Earth’s atmosphere and climate. The drill operations retrieved ice cores, which enabled the research team to gain access to a record of atmospheric and climatic change extending back for many millions of years. The ice that was drilled was estimated to be...
Organization: 
Suffolk SECEP School
Occupation: 
Teacher
Dates:
4 November 2008 to 19 December 2008
Location:
McMurdo Station, Antarctica
What Are They Doing?
The research team continued exploration of remote regions of the seafloor around McMurdo Station, Antarctica with a specially designed remotely operated vehicle (ROV) for underwater research. The ROV could be deployed through a small (15 cm) hole in the sea ice, enabling access to regions beyond scuba diving depths (at 40-170 m). The researchers located historical experimental structures on the sea floor around McMurdo Station and investigated the colonization of these structures by species of...
Organization: 
Talbert Middle School
Occupation: 
Teacher
Dates:
21 November 2008 to 10 January 2009
Location:
Mount Erebus, Antarctica
What Are They Doing?
Erebus is the southernmost active volcano on Earth and the most active in Antarctica. The team from NM Tech worked at the summit of the volcano for over four weeks during the austral summer of 2008-09. Most of the team members undertook a major seismic experiment which imaged the conduit (pipe) which feeds molten magma to the permanent lake of lava in the crater of Erebus volcano. A second seismic experiment looked at the deeper crustal structure under the volcano to understand where the magma...
Organization: 
Liverpool High School
Occupation: 
Teacher
Dates:
25 November 2008 to 12 January 2009
Location:
Southern Oceans, Antarctica
What Are They Doing?
The scientific objectives of the cruise aboard the Swedish icebreaker Oden included collecting a range of data in rarely traveled areas of the Antarctic seas and coastline, including the Amundsen and eastern Ross Seas. An international research team studied the oceanography and biogeochemistry of the region while in transit to Antarctica, with a particular emphasis on the processes that control the production and destruction of greenhouse gases and on the role of sea ice microorganisms in this...
Organization: 
Zilker Elementary School
Occupation: 
Teacher
Dates:
10 December 2008 to 10 January 2009
Location:
McMurdo and Casey Stations
What Are They Doing?
An international team of scientists from the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia traveled to McMurdo and Casey Stations in Antarctica to finish installing equipment on an airplane which was used later in the field season to conduct airborne surveys over the Aurora Subglacial Basin, a geologic formation under the East Antarctic Ice Sheet. The area is one that was considered stable until recently, but could now represent the weak underbelly of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, the largest...