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.

2011 Expeditions

Organization: 
Monona Grove High School
Occupation: 
Teacher
Dates:
8 February 2011 to 25 April 2011
Location:
Icebreaker N.B. Palmer in the Southern Ocean and Drake Passage
What Are They Doing?
An interdisciplinary team of scientists, supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), traveled from McMurdo Station, Antarctica to Punta Arenas, Chile aboard the U.S. research vessel Nathanial B. Palmer. While aboard, they collected data from the Bellingshausen, Amundsen, and Ross Seas and the Southern Pacific Ocean. Using many different types of oceanographic instruments they collected water samples at various depths to...
Organization: 
Lindblom Math and Science Academy
Occupation: 
Teacher
Dates:
9 April 2011 to 12 June 2011
Location:
Palmer Station, R/V Laurence M. Gould
What Are They Doing?
Antarctic icefish are uniquely adapted to life in the extreme conditions of the Southern Ocean. Waters surrounding Antarctica are unlike any other, they are isolated, very cold, have large amounts of dissolved oxygen, and have low numbers of competing animals. Because of this unique environment, the icefish have evolved with some interesting traits. They do not have a swim bladder, and they spend much of their time near the ocean floor. To help them survive in the very cold waters, they have...
Organization: 
Talbert Middle School
Occupation: 
Teacher
Mr. Wood stands next to the welcome sign for the town of Barrow, Alaska.
Dates:
17 April 2011 to 4 June 2011
Location:
Healy, Alaska
What Are They Doing?
The carbon cycle is the means by which carbon is moved between the world’s soils, oceans, atmosphere, and living organisms. Northern tundra ecosystems play a key role in the carbon cycle because the cold, moist, and frozen soils trap rotting organic material in the soils. This very slowly decaying organic material has caused carbon to build up in the arctic during the past thousands of years. Now warming in the arctic is slowly causing the tundra to become warmer and dryer. As a result, the...
Organization: 
Redd School
Occupation: 
Teacher
Dates:
24 April 2011 to 1 May 2011
Location:
Barrow, Alaska
What Are They Doing?
The research team sampled the coastal waters of the Arctic Ocean to investigate how microbial creatures affect the productivity of a coastal Arctic ecosystem. They traveled to the field site via snowmobile and sampled the seawater through a hole drilled into the sea ice. The seawater collected was used to look at competition between autotrophs, organisms that make their own food, and heterotrophs, organisms that cannot make their own food, and for nitrogen (N) in the waters near Barrow, Alaska...
Organization: 
West Salem High School
Occupation: 
Teacher
Dates:
25 April 2011 to 20 May 2011
Location:
Svartisen Subglacial Laboratory, Norway
What Are They Doing?
Glaciers are like moving rivers of ice, and as meltwater makes its way to the bottom of the ice sheet it acts like a lubricant helping the glacier move. As climate warms in the polar regions, glacial meltwater increases, reduces friction, and causes this movement to increase. Increased glacial movement may cause glaciers to recede more rapidly, but there is no exact formula for this. For this project, the team worked at the Svartisen Subglacial Laboratory, a laboratory located beneath a...
Organization: 
Gateway High School
Occupation: 
Teacher
Dates:
22 May 2011 to 14 June 2011
Location:
Swiss Camp, Greenland
What Are They Doing?
Solar radiation is the major energy source that drives our climate and supports life on earth. In this project, the research team gained a better understanding of the solar radiation reflected back into space and absorbed by our planet, also known as the Earth’s heat balance. The team collected data related to this balance using weather observing instruments and a specially equipped aircraft that detected wind speed and directions and electromagnetic radiation. The measurements were part of an...
Organization: 
Cleveland Heights High School
Occupation: 
Teacher
Dates:
20 June 2011 to 15 August 2011
Location:
Barrow, AK
What Are They Doing?
Underlying the northern arctic coast of Alaska is a thick layer of permafrost. As water melts and pools on top of the permafrost, thaw lakes are formed. There are many thaw lakes on the North Slope of Alaska. As they decompose organic material, the bacteria and other microorganisms living in thaw lakes produce methane. Methane is a greenhouse gas, and increased microbial activity in thawing permafrost areas could lead to changes in the atmosphere due to the release of methane. Microbial...
Organization: 
Renfroe Middle School
Occupation: 
Teacher
Dates:
27 June 2011 to 25 July 2011
Location:
Summit, Greenland
What Are They Doing?
Aerosols are small, solid, particles like dust, smoke, and smog which are suspended in the air. Aerosols are generated by a variety of natural and man-made sources such as fossil fuel combustion, forest fires, and dust storms. Because aerosols have the ability to diffuse light coming from the sun, they may actually have a cooling impact on our Earth’s climate and the Greenland Ice Sheet. In order to study the effect of aerosols on the arctic and the Greenland Ice Sheet, the research team took...
Occupation: 
Einstein Fellow
Dates:
1 July 2011 to 24 July 2011
Organization: 
Yampah Mountain High School
Occupation: 
Teacher
Dates:
3 July 2011 to 15 July 2011
Location:
ANWR, Alaska
What Are They Doing?
Growth rings, also known as trees rings or annual rings, are annual layers of tree growth that can be seen when looking at the cross section of a tree trunk. Looking at the rings, you can determine the age of the tree by counting the rings. By looking at rings, you can also study the response of the tree to environmental conditions like a really dry or wet year. The study of tree rings is called dendrochronology. The research team studied mostly white spruce trees on the North Slope of Alaska...
Organization: 
Heath K-8 Elementary School
Occupation: 
Teacher
Dates:
10 July 2011 to 14 August 2011
Location:
Ny Alesund, Svalbard
What Are They Doing?
The Svalbard Archipelago has an arctic climate and is home to several large bodies of ice called glaciers. There are alpine glaciers in the mountains, and also tidewater glaciers that end in long narrow bodies of seawater called fjords. For the past nearly 10,000 years, the glaciers of this region have been receding and most recently there has been a regional reduction in sea ice. The region is ideal for the study of past climate because the arctic is sensitive to changes in climate and several...
Organization: 
Yampah Mountain High School
Occupation: 
Teacher
Fluted projectile point from the Raven Bluff site.
Dates:
24 July 2011 to 11 August 2011
Location:
Raven Bluff Site near Kivalina, Alaska
What Are They Doing?
Fluted projectile point from the Raven Bluff site. The team excavated portions of the Raven Bluff archaeological site, the remains of a prehistoric camp that dates to the very end of the last ice age, about 11,000 years ago. The site in Northwestern Alaska is important because it contains the oldest well-preserved collection of archaeological animal bone in the American Arctic. This can teach us about ancient people’s diet, hunting tactics, and seasonal movements. The site also contains...
Organization: 
Millsboro Middle School
Occupation: 
Teacher
Dates:
19 August 2011 to 11 November 2011
Location:
McMurdo Station
What Are They Doing?
The research team SCUBA dived below the sea ice to collect polychaete worms. Polychaetes are segmented worms generally less than 10 centimeters (3.9 inches) long, but can vary greatly. They are marine worms that live throughout the world’s oceans and can survive in very harsh conditions including the deepest depths of the ocean. Once the worms were collected, the research team ran temperature and nutrition experiments on them in the laboratory. These experiments helped researchers understand...
Occupation: 
Teacher
Crary Lab at McMurdo, Antarctica
Dates:
6 November 2011 to 12 December 2011
Location:
McMurdo Station
What Are They Doing?
Humans have occupied the McMurdo Sound for over a hundred years. Early visitors had little impact on the region, but starting in the late 1950’s year-round, permanent buildings were established at McMurdo Station. Over the years thousands of humans have visited this area and have changed the landscape. Under its obligations to the Antarctic Treaty, the United States maintains a long-term monitoring program designed to track the environmental conditions in and around the station. Each year, the...
Occupation: 
Teacher
Dates:
11 December 2011 to 5 January 2012
Location:
South Pole Station and AGO remote site, Antarctica
What Are They Doing?
Michelle and the research team supported a project that has been collecting important data since the early 1990's. The Polar Experiment Network for Geospace Upper atmosphere Investigations project (or PENGUIn for short) is gathering information in Antarctica to further understand the sun and space influences on the Earth’s upper atmosphere. This network is supported by the National Science Foundation Office of Polar Programs and is a collaborative effort to better understand the high latitude...
Organization: 
Lake Norman High School
Occupation: 
Teacher
A hot water drill used to drill through the sea ice
Dates:
5 November 2012 to 14 December 2012
Location:
McMurdo Station
What Are They Doing?
A hot water drill used to drill through the sea ice This is the first of two research seasons in Antarctica for the WISSARD (Whillans Ice Stream Subglacial Access Research Drilling) project. The goal of the WISSARD Project was to learn more about the physical, chemical, and biological aspects of the unique environments under glaciers in West Antarctica. In addition to understanding the geology and hydrology, the team studied life in extreme subglacial environments. By investigating this...