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.

2013 Expeditions

Organization: 
Bellows Free Academy
Occupation: 
Teacher
Walking to work over tundra hummocks
Dates:
1 April 2013 to 3 May 2013
Location:
Approximately 8 miles off the Parks highway, near Healy, Alaska
What Are They Doing?
Experimental drying plots on the tundra 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 organic material and slow their decomposition. This very slowly decaying organic material has caused carbon to build up in the Arctic during the past thousands of years. Historically, the tundra has stored large amounts of...
Organization: 
Libertyville High School
Occupation: 
Teacher
NASA's P-3 Orion IceBridge Aircraft
Dates:
1 April 2013 to 18 April 2013
Location:
Kangerlussuaq, Greenland
What Are They Doing?
NASA's P-3 IceBridge Aircraft 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. The research team experienced first-hand the excitement of flying a large research aircraft over the Greenland Ice Sheet. While...
Organization: 
Nobleboro Central School
Occupation: 
Teacher
The Alaska Range near Denali National Park
Dates:
29 April 2013 to 19 June 2013
Location:
Kahiltna Glacier and Mount Hunter Ice Divide. Denali National Park and Preserve, AK
What Are They Doing?
The Alaska Range near Mount McKinley The goal of the team's research was to develop a past climate and precipitation record of Central Alaska over the past 1000 years. In order to accomplish this task, the team extracted and analyzed a series of three ice cores from an ice divide between the North and South Peaks of Mount Hunter within Denali National Park and Preserve. They also continued ice depth and surface velocity surveying of major glaciers within Denali National Park and have plans for...
Organization: 
Randy Smith Middle School
Occupation: 
Teacher
Lake Kevo in northern Finland
Dates:
18 May 2013 to 22 June 2013
Location:
Kevo Research Station, Finland
What Are They Doing?
Wetland in northern Finland This project examined the poorly-understood interaction of climate change and microbial methane production in wetland soils in the Lapland region of Finland. The research team conducted field and lab experiments to determine the role of arctic wetlands in global carbon cycling. Similar experiments have also been completed by the research group in the Alaskan arctic, making this project part of an investigation into the potential global-scale response of arctic...
Organization: 
Lindblom Math and Science Academy
Occupation: 
Teacher
Trawling catch in Antarctica
Dates:
29 May 2013 to 7 July 2013
Location:
Palmer Station and R/V Laurence M. Gould
What Are They Doing?
Trawling catch in Antarctica Antarctic notothenioid fishes are uniquely adapted to life in the extreme conditions of the Southern Ocean. Waters surrounding Antarctica are unlike any other. The Southern Ocean is isolated from other oceans by the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, it is very cold with temperatures at or near -1.8 degrees Celsius, and the water is rich in oxygen. Notothenioids have evolved many physiological traits that enable them to survive in this remarkable environment. They lack...
Organization: 
Jenks West Intermediate School
Occupation: 
Teacher
Toolik Field Station, Alaska
Dates:
29 May 2013 to 4 July 2013
Location:
Toolik Field Station, Alaska
What Are They Doing?
Arctic Ground Squirrel In the Arctic, bright summers and dark winters are a fact of life and can lead humans to rely on clocks and routines to tell them when to eat or sleep, but how do animals function under these conditions? Circadian rhythms refer to the "internal body clock" that regulates the approximately 24-hour cycle of biological processes in animals and plants. Rhythms in body temperature, brain wave activity, hormone production, and other biological activities are linked to this 24-...
Organization: 
West Morris Mendham High School
Occupation: 
Teacher
The Brooks Range near Toolik Lake, Alaska
Dates:
24 June 2013 to 31 July 2013
Location:
Toolik Field Station, Alaska
What Are They Doing?
Thawing permafrost 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 sporadically, and melting ground ice can cause land-surface subsidence called "thermokarst failures". These failures change the rate and amount of carbon released with the unanticipated outcome being that soil carbon can be mixed-up from a depth and exposed to sunlight as the land surface fails. Sunlight can...
Organization: 
Lindblom Math & Science Academy
Occupation: 
Teacher
Tundra boardwalk at Toolik Field Station, Alaska
Dates:
27 June 2013 to 3 August 2013
Location:
Toolik Field Station, Alaska
What Are They Doing?
Female Wolf Spider, Alaska The Arctic is warming faster than any other biome on the planet, which makes it critically important to understand the influence of warming on ecosystem processes in this region. While arctic species are all well adapted to living in extreme environments, it is unclear how different species will respond to the environmental shifts that accompany climate change (e.g. longer growing seasons and warmer temperatures). Stronger responses by some species within a...
Organization: 
Division of Polar Programs, National Science Foundation
Occupation: 
Einstein Educator Fellow
Dates:
28 June 2013 to 19 July 2013
Location:
Kangerlussauq and Summit Station, 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 United States, Denmark, and Greenland. The expedition members spent several days learning about the research conducted in Greenland, the logistics involved in supporting the research, and gain first-hand experience conducting experiments and developing inquiry-based educational activities. In 2013, the work built on past...
Organization: 
Nenana City School
Occupation: 
Teacher
Traditional blanket toss in Barrow, Alaska
Dates:
14 July 2013 to 27 July 2013
Location:
Barrow, Alaska
What Are They Doing?
Sunrise in Barrow, Alaska Applied Research in Environmental Sciences Nonprofit, Inc., ARIES, the Barrow Arctic Science Consortium, BASC, and the North Slope Borough of Risk Management are collaborating to plan, develop and implement a historical ecology model for the North Slope Coastal Region of Alaska. Historical ecology is an applied research program that focuses on interactions of people and their environments. Research applications involve studying and understanding this relationship in...
Organization: 
Brundrett Middle School
Occupation: 
Teacher
USCGC Healy
Dates:
25 July 2013 to 15 August 2013
Location:
USCGC Healy
What Are They Doing?
Lowering sampling instruments into the Chukchi Sea This project attempted to understand the role of carbon resources to the food webs of the Chukchi Sea, off the northwest coast of Alaska. The northern Chukchi Shelf receives large inputs of organic matter transported from the highly productive shelf regions of the North Pacific and from existing sources of primary production, including ice algae, sediment microalgae and phytoplankton. These contributions of highly changing organic carbon,...
Organization: 
Lake City High School
Occupation: 
Teacher
Field camp on the glacier foreland
Dates:
28 July 2013 to 21 August 2013
Location:
Central Iceland
What Are They Doing?
Field camp on the glacier foreland This project sought to understand the formation of drumlins, some of the most mysterious and poorly understood of glacial landforms. Drumlins are elongated, aligned hills that form hidden from view beneath glaciers. The first modern drumlin field has recently been exposed by the retreat of Múlajökul. Previously this kind of landform could be studied only by focusing on drumlin fields that formed long ago in the Pleistocene, so this study provided a unique...
Organization: 
Port Aransas High School
Occupation: 
Teacher
Ice on the Beaufort Sea
Dates:
7 August 2013 to 26 August 2013
Location:
Kaktovik, Alaska
What Are They Doing?
Water sampling with students from Kaktovik, Alaska Coastal ecosystems of the Arctic receive extraordinarily large quantities of terrestrial organic matter through river discharge and shoreline erosion. The fate of this organic matter is of both local and global interest as it relates to biological production in the coastal ocean as well as the global biogeochemical cycle. Terrestrial organic matter has the potential to provide an important source of carbon and energy to support and maintain...
Organization: 
Grissom Middle School
Occupation: 
Teacher
Seismic station on the ice
Dates:
4 November 2013 to 16 December 2013
Location:
McMurdo and Mario Zuchelli Station, Antarctica
What Are They Doing?
Antarctica plays a central role in global tectonic evolution. Competing theories have been put forward to explain the formation of the Transantarctic Mountains (TAMs) and the Wilkes Subglacial Basin (WSB), primarily due to a lack of information on the crustal thickness and seismic velocity of these areas. The research team has attempted to resolve how the TAMs and WSB originated and how their formation relates to Antarctica's geologic history. Since most of Antarctica is covered by large ice...
Organization: 
Alpine Leadership Academy
Occupation: 
Teacher
McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica
Dates:
6 November 2013 to 11 December 2013
Location:
Wright and Taylor Valleys in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica
What Are They Doing?
Dry soils of the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica It's hard to imagine that anything could live in the cold, dry soils of Antarctica. Early investigations of the soil bacterial communities of the McMurdo Dry Valley found only a handful of bacteria, leading to the conclusion that these soils were essentially sterile. The idea that microorganisms can grow at all in the very dry soils of the McMurdo Dry Valleys seems astounding but the recent use of advanced molecular biology techniques to...
Organization: 
Maria Teresa Mirabal Middle School
Occupation: 
Teacher
The South Pole, Antarctica
Dates:
5 January 2014 to 7 January 2014
Location:
South Pole Station
What Are They Doing?
Tunnel under the Ice Cube Neutrino Observatory How do you find something that isn't directly visible? That's the challenge faced by the team who developed the IceCube neutrino detector under the ice at the South Pole. Just as X-rays allow us to see bone fractures, and MRIs help doctors find damage to soft tissue, neutrinos will reveal new information about the Universe that can't be seen directly. The in-ice particle detector at the South Pole records the interactions of neutrinos which are...