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.

2014 Expeditions

Organization: 
Parishville-Hopkinton Central School
Occupation: 
Teacher
The icebreaker R/V Nathanial B. Palmer
Dates:
20 January 2014 to 18 March 2014
Location:
Totten Glacier and Moscow University Ice Shelf, East Antarctica aboard the R/V Palmer
What Are They Doing?
The Totten Glacier on the edge of the Southern Ocean, Antarctica This project investigated the marine system of the Totten Glacier and Moscow University Ice Shelf, East Antarctica which has shown a recent increase in ice loss. This system is of critical importance because it drains one-eighth of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet and contains a volume equivalent to nearly 7 meters of potential sea level rise, greater than the entire West Antarctic Ice Sheet. This rarely explored region is the single...
Organization: 
Monona Grove High School
Occupation: 
Teacher
Chilean and Russian research bases on King George Island, Antarctica
Dates:
13 February 2014 to 1 March 2014
Location:
Professor Julio Escudero base, King George Island, Antarctica
What Are They Doing?
Penguin rookeries on King George Island, Antarctica The students and teachers will spend five days on King George Island, learning about the scientific research conducted in and around Escudero base. The program could include visits to Elefanteras Beach to study seals and penguins, Collins Glacier where mosses, grasses, and algae may be found in the ice, and Bellingshausen Dome to discuss glaciological studies. There will also be the opportunity to stop at other Chilean stations as well as...
Organization: 
East High School
Occupation: 
Teacher
The Greenland ice sheet bordering the Arctic Ocean
Dates:
5 April 2014 to 24 April 2014
Location:
Kangerlussuaq, Greenland
What Are They Doing?
Research aircraft in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland Operation 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 experiences first-hand the excitement of flying a large research aircraft over the...
Organization: 
Aspen High School
Occupation: 
Teacher
Arctic Ground Squirrel
Dates:
26 May 2014 to 19 June 2014
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: 
Crawford Middle School
Occupation: 
Teacher
Dwarf Fireweed flower
Dates:
9 June 2014 to 30 June 2014
Location:
Kangerlussuaq, Greenland
What Are They Doing?
Dwarf Fireweed flower 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 reproduction. Temperature and water availability may alter the timing of flowering and floral traits that attract pollinators, such as nectar volume and flower size. In addition, temperature may...
Organization: 
St. Mary's Academy High School
Occupation: 
Teacher
The view from Toolik Field Station, Alaska
Dates:
15 June 2014 to 3 July 2014
Location:
Toolik Field Station, Alaska
What Are They Doing?
Spring thaw on the tundra outside of Toolik Lake, Alaska 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 environment influence microbial community composition and rate of function? For example, how quickly they convert organic material to carbon dioxide. 2) How...
Organization: 
Livermore Schools
Occupation: 
Teacher
A thermokarst failure on the tundra
Dates:
15 June 2014 to 6 July 2014
Location:
Toolik Field Station, Alaska
What Are They Doing?
A thermokarst failure on the tundra 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 sinking 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 is...
Organization: 
Division of Polar Programs, National Science Foundation
Occupation: 
Einstein Educator Fellow
The Big House at Summit Station, Greenland
Dates:
27 June 2014 to 18 July 2014
Location:
Kangerlussauq and Summit Station, Greenland
What Are They Doing?
The tent city at Summit Station, Greenland The expedition members visited several research sites in Greenland as part of an initiative to foster enhanced international scientific cooperation between the countries. The expedition members spent several days learning about the research conducted in Greenland, the logistics involved in supporting the research, and gained first-hand experience conducting experiments and developing inquiry-based educational activities. This year's work builds on...
Organization: 
South Mountain Community College
Occupation: 
Teacher
Welcome to Barrow, Alaska
Dates:
14 July 2014 to 9 August 2014
Location:
Barrow, AK
What Are They Doing?
A view of the beach from downtown Barrow, Alaska Applied Research in Environmental Sciences Nonprofit, Inc., ARIES, the Barrow Arctic Science Consortium, BASC, the North Slope Borough of Risk Management, and Cooperative Extension of Ilisgavik College 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...
Organization: 
Los Coches Creek Middle School
Occupation: 
Teacher
The research base at Ny Ålesund, Svalbard
Dates:
21 July 2014 to 20 August 2014
Location:
Ny Alesund, Svalbard, Norway
What Are They Doing?
Working around the glaciers of Kongsfjord, Svalbard The Svalbard Archipelago has an arctic climate and is home to several large bodies of ice— alpine glaciers in the mountains, and tidewater glaciers that descend into the sea. For the past 10,000 years the glaciers of this region have been receding and more recently researchers have noted a regional reduction in sea ice. The research team, which includes undergraduate geoscience students participating in the Research Experiences...
Organization: 
Springs School
Occupation: 
Teacher
Bowhead whale bones along the shore of the Arctic Ocean, Barrow, Alaska
Dates:
1 August 2014 to 1 September 2014
Location:
Barrow, AK
What Are They Doing?
Bowhead whale surfacing in the Arctic Ocean The research team worked out of Barrow, Alaska, at the juxtaposition of two Arctic seas; the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. It is a region frequently traveled by the endangered bowhead whale. This project had its genesis in understanding why the region near Barrow, Alaska is a feeding hotspot for migrating bowhead whales, and the whales and their prey will continue to be a focus of the team's interpretations. The research team conducted oceanographic...
Organization: 
Ipswich Middle School
Occupation: 
Teacher
A massive glacier in southwestern Greenland
Dates:
2 August 2014 to 22 August 2014
Location:
Greenland
What Are They Doing?
The terminus of a glacier near Kangerlussuaq, Greenland The retreat of glaciers is one of the most profound visual signs of global warming. Identifying the current magnitude of glacier retreat and its significance in the longer-term context of glacier history encourages a deeper understanding of what it means for society. The goal of this project was to provide a longer-term context for current climate warming and to better define the nature of abrupt climate changes over the past 5000 years...
Organization: 
Sinagua Middle School
Occupation: 
Teacher
A seismic image of the ocean floor in the Drake Passage
Dates:
18 September 2014 to 25 October 2014
Location:
Research Vessel Nathaniel B. Palmer
What Are They Doing?
A seismic image of the ocean floor in the Drake Passage If the Antarctic ice sheet were to collapse or melt substantially it would impact all of humankind. This research attempts to reconstruct the paleogeography of parts of Antarctica while trying to determine the physical conditions that led to formation of the Antarctic ice sheet. The past opening of deep Southern Ocean gateways between Antarctica and South America and between Antarctica and Australia permitted the complete circulation of...
Organization: 
Natomas Charter School
Occupation: 
Teacher
Lake Joyce, Antarctica
Dates:
10 October 2014 to 17 December 2014
Location:
Dry Valleys, Antarctica
What Are They Doing?
Underwater microbial community in Lake Joyce, Antarctica The oldest fossil life on Earth consists of stromatolites, which are the remains of complicated communities of bacteria captured in rock. On modern Earth, similar communities still grow in places that are too harsh for worms, snails, and other grazing animals to live and eat them. Lakes in Antarctica with liquid water below a few meters of ice almost always support these communities. Thus, they provide the opportunity to study the...
Organization: 
Grissom Middle School
Occupation: 
Teacher
Transantarctic Mountains
Dates:
3 November 2014 to 19 December 2014
Location:
McMurdo and Mario Zuchelli Station, Antarctica
What Are They Doing?
The Transantarctic Mountains with a dusting of snow (Photo by Sarah Diers) 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 is attempting to resolve how the TAMs and WSB originated and how their formation relates to...
Organization: 
Pink Palace Museum
Occupation: 
Teacher
A Weddell seal near McMurdo Station, Antarctica
Dates:
6 November 2014 to 19 December 2014
Location:
McMurdo Station, Antarctica
What Are They Doing?
A Weddell seal near McMurdo Station, Antarctica (Photo by Alex Eilers) The team traveled daily to Weddell seal haul out sites on the sea ice near McMurdo Station. While on location, the team found female seals, gently sedated them, and took a variety of biological samples – weight, size (length and girth), took blood samples, and collected tissue samples. They also took thermal images of the seals to see how much heat the seal was losing to the environment. A time-depth recorder also was...
Occupation: 
Teacher
West Antarctica Ice Sheet (WAIS) Divide Galley, Antarctica
Dates:
30 November 2014 to 24 January 2015
Location:
West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) Divide
What Are They Doing?
Snow Drifts on the West Antarctica Ice Sheet (WAIS), Antarctica The research team studied the microstructure of ice crystals on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS). As the research title of their project implies, "VeLveT Ice", the team is researching what happens at the small scale of individual ice crystals that ultimately affect the large flow patterns in an ice sheet. The group is therefore studying the link between crystal properties, ice flow, and climate history because the crystal...
Organization: 
G Works Inc. for the Puerto Rico Department of Education
Occupation: 
Teacher
Ice Cube Station at the South Pole, Antarctica
Dates:
2 January 2015 to 23 January 2015
Location:
South Pole, Antarctica
What Are They Doing?
The view down a 2.5 km drill hole used by the Ice Cube project 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...