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.

2009 Expeditions

Organization: 
J. C. Parks Elementary School
Occupation: 
Teacher
Dates:
8 March 2009 to 31 March 2009
Location:
USCGC Healy, Bering Sea
What Are They Doing?
A diverse team of researchers participated in the first of three research cruises in the 2009 season 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, studied the biological communities found in sea ice, monitored the early spring plankton bloom, and investigated light penetration through open water and ice cover. Additionally, researchers examined the...
Organization: 
Wilson K-8 School
Occupation: 
Teacher
Dates:
15 March 2009 to 3 April 2009
Location:
Barrow, Alaska
What Are They Doing?
Team researchers investigated air-surface chemical interactions in the Arctic, and how these might evolve in future climates. Their efforts were part of the Ocean, Atmosphere, Sea Ice, Snowpack (OASIS) program – an international program that involves scientists from the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and the UK. To gather data, the team used state-of-the-art chemical and biological sensors, micrometeorological instrumentation, Lidars, and tethered balloons to measure chemical...
Organization: 
Greensboro Day School
Occupation: 
Teacher
Dates:
21 March 2009 to 22 April 2009
Location:
Crater Lake El’gygytgyn, Russia
What Are They Doing?
An international team of researchers from the United States, Germany, Russia, and Austria traveled to northeast Russia to conduct a large-scale scientific drilling project in Lake El'gygytgyn (pronounced el'geegitgin), a crater lake created 3.6 million years ago by the impact of a meteorite measuring about 18 km in diameter. The team worked on the lake ice throughout the winter, using a customized light-weight drill rig to obtain drill cores of layered muds from two sites in the lake. Lake El'...
Organization: 
Oyster Bilingual ES
Occupation: 
Teacher
Dates:
31 March 2009 to 12 May 2009
Location:
USCGC Healy, Bering Sea
What Are They Doing?
A diverse research team aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter (USCGC) 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, and nutrient content of the sea water, changes in sea ice cover, and the concentration of nutrients used and released by...
Organization: 
Sir Francis Drake High School
Occupation: 
Teacher
Dates:
6 May 2009 to 31 May 2009
Location:
Yli-Ii, Finland
What Are They Doing?
For this project, the research team collected and analyzed archaeological and paleoenvironmental data from three widely separated but environmentally comparable sites within the northern circumpolar region, the Yli-li area of Northern Finland, the Wemindji area of James Bay, Canada, and in the Kamchatka Peninsula region of Russia. The circumpolar North is widely seen as an observatory for changing relations between human societies and their environments. The goal of the research team was to...
Organization: 
Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets (CReSIS)
Occupation: 
K-12 Science Coordinator
Dates:
22 May 2009 to 8 June 2009
Location:
NEEM Camp, Greenland
What Are They Doing?
Much of our knowledge of past climate comes from ice cores drilled from the Greenland ice sheet. These records stretch back more than 100,000 years, but existing ice cores do not include clear records from the Eemian stage, the second-to-latest interglacial period, which occurred about 130,000 years ago. During this period, evidence indicates that temperatures were about 3-5 ˚C warmer than present, so more information would help us understand and predict how our climate is likely to evolve in...
Organization: 
Venture Academy/Delta VISTA
Occupation: 
Teacher
NOAA
Dates:
14 June 2009 to 15 July 2009
Location:
R/V Knorr, 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. Researchers measured the temperature, salinity, and nutrient content of the sea water and the concentration of nutrients used and released by phytoplankton. They also conducted...
Occupation: 
NSF Einstein Fellow
Dates:
5 July 2009 to 21 July 2009
Location:
Various Locations, Greenland
What Are They Doing?
The expedition members visited several research sites in Greenland as part of an initiative to foster enhanced international scientific cooperation between the countries of the United States, Greenland, and Denmark. The expedition members spent several days learning about the research conducted in Greenland, the logistics involved in supporting the research, and they gained first-hand experience conducting experiments and developing inquiry-based educational activities. The 2009 expedition...
Organization: 
Riverglen Junior High School
Occupation: 
Teacher
Dates:
10 July 2009 to 15 August 2009
Location:
Svalbard, Norway
What Are They Doing?
The research team, which included undergraduate geoscience students participating in the Research Experiences for Undergraduates Program, traveled to Svalbard, Norway, to investigate how climate change affects sediment transport and deposition associated with the tidewater glaciers, icebergs, meltwater streams, and marine currents. Tidewater glaciers are among the fastest changing systems in the Arctic, offering the team the opportunity to monitor rapidly changing and dynamic systems. The...
Organization: 
CHESPAX, Calvert County Public Schools
Occupation: 
Teacher
North Pacific Research Board
Dates:
15 July 2009 to 15 August 2009
Location:
Pribilof Islands, Alaska
What Are They Doing?
The research team studied the foraging behavior of seabirds nesting in the Pribilof Islands. Specifically, they were interested in two piscivorous seabirds – the Thick-billed Murres and Black-legged Kittiwakes – on St. George and St. Paul Islands. The team conducted this research to determine how climate warming and sea ice retreat from the southern portions of the Bering Sea will impact seabird nesting success and population growth rates on these islands. To help gather data, team researchers...
Organization: 
James Monroe Elementary School
Occupation: 
Teacher
Dates:
21 July 2009 to 13 August 2009
Location:
Southcentral and Southwest Alaska
What Are They Doing?
The goal of this project was to reconstruct the behavior of atmospheric circulation, specifically the Aleutian Low pressure system, over the past 10,000 years and to assess how its variability relates to past shifts in climate. In the summer of 2009, the research team recovered sediment cores and conducted monitoring at nine lake sites in southern Alaska. They used the physical and chemical characteristics of the samples they collected to reconstruct a record of past climate in this area. The...
Organization: 
Impact Academy of Arts and Technology
Occupation: 
Teacher
Dates:
23 September 2009 to 1 November 2009
Location:
Coast Guard Ship, Beaufort Sea
What Are They Doing?
Polar bears, Ursus maritimus, spend most of their time on the sea ice – where they travel, hunt, and sometimes even give birth. However, during the summer the sea ice retreats northward and leaves some polar bears on shore for several months. These bears may not be able hunt and may face warmer temperatures than they do on the ice. The research team investigated how the polar bears cope with these difficult conditions on shore, and attempted to determine if they possess adaptations similar to...
Organization: 
South Lake High School
Occupation: 
Teacher
Dates:
5 October 2009 to 3 December 2009
Location:
McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica
What Are They Doing?
Are microorganisms metabolically active in glacier ice? To address this exciting question, the research team traveled to the McMurdo Dry Valleys – one of the harshest environments on Earth – to study the biology, geology, and chemistry of basal ice – the dynamic layer of ice closest to the bedrock at the base of a glacier. The team used a tunnel cut into the side of Taylor Glacier to reach the basal ice layer. Data collected from field measurements and laboratory experiments helped researchers...
Organization: 
Corning East High School
Occupation: 
Teacher
Dates:
29 October 2009 to 18 December 2009
Location:
McMurdo Station, Antarctica
What Are They Doing?
The research team continued to explore remote regions of the seafloor around McMurdo Station, Antarctica with a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) for underwater research. The ROV was deployed through a small (15 cm) hole in the sea ice, enabling access to regions beyond scuba diving depths (at 40-170 m) and allowing the research team to survey very large areas of overlapping seafloor. The research team used the ROV to locate historical experimental structures on the sea floor around McMurdo...
Organization: 
University of New Hampshire/ Desert Research Institute
Occupation: 
Researcher
Dates:
9 November 2009 to 1 February 2010
Location:
West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) Divide, Antarctica
What Are They Doing?
Using a large hollow drill, the WAIS Divide Ice Core Drilling team collected a 3,500-meter-long ice core, or sample of ice, from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Because of the weight of the overlying snowpack, snow that falls and accumulates on ice sheets re-crystallizes and forms annual layers over time. The ice core recovered during the project had annual resolution, or distinct yearly markings, for the past 40,000 years! In ice sheets, the compression of snow traps small bubbles of air in the...
Organization: 
Carlmont High School
Occupation: 
Teacher
Dates:
16 November 2009 to 1 January 2010
Location:
South Pole Station, Antarctica
What Are They Doing?
A large international team of scientists and drilling technicians worked throughout the austral summer to continue to assemble and test the world's largest scientific instrument, the in-ice IceCube Neutrino Detector. Neutrinos are incredibly common (about 10 million pass through your body as you read this) subatomic particles that have no electric charge and almost no mass. They are created by radioactive decay and nuclear reactions, such as those on the sun and other stars. Neutrinos rarely...
Occupation: 
Teacher
Dates:
17 November 2009 to 13 January 2010
Location:
Cotton Glacier, Antarctica
What Are They Doing?
An interdisciplinary research team collected water and ice cores to study the microbial communities found in the Transantarctic Mountains and the McMurdo Dry Valleys in Antarctica. Once believed to be devoid of life, closer observations of glacial ice have revealed microhabitats teeming with life. In these extreme conditions, microorganisms live in the liquid water phases of ice, and they depend upon dissolved organic matter (DOM) in the water for food and nutrients. Although DOM is found in...
Organization: 
St. John Francis Regis School
Occupation: 
Teacher
Dates:
23 November 2009 to 10 January 2010
Location:
West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) Divide, Antarctica
What Are They Doing?
Initially, the CReSIS team worked at McMurdo Station preparing and outfitting a Twin Otter airplane with equipment that was used to conduct aerial radar surveys of glaciers at remote field camps. Since it was used as a platform for conducting the experiments, the airplane was mounted with instruments that measured ice thickness, mapped ice layers, and conducted SAR-imaging – a form of radar that produces high-resolution maps of the ice surface. In early December 2009, after aircraft...