What Are They Doing?

Dr. Thomas Powers and Natasha Griffin collect soil samples at the F6 site in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica.
Dr. Thomas Powers and Natasha Griffin collect soil samples at the F6 site in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica. Photo by Kevin Dickerson.
The McMurdo Dry Valleys Long-Term Ecological Research (MCM LTER) Program is an interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary study of the aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems in an ice-free region of Antarctica. MCM joined the National Science Foundation's LTER Network in 1993 and is funded through the Office of Polar Programs in six year funding periods.

The McMurdo Dry Valleys (77°30'S 163°00'E) on the shore of McMurdo Sound, 2,200 miles (3,500 km) due south of New Zealand, form the largest relatively ice-free area (approximately 4,800 sq km) on the Antarctic continent. These ice-free areas of Antarctica display a sharp contrast to most other ecosystems in the world, which exist under far more moderate environmental conditions. The perennially ice-covered lakes, ephemeral streams and extensive areas of exposed soil within the McMurdo Dry Valleys are subject to low temperatures, limited precipitation and salt accumulation. The dry valleys represent a region where life approaches its environmental limits, and is an end-member in the spectrum of environments included in the LTER Network.

The overarching goal of MCM LTER research is to document and understand how ecosystems respond to environmental changes.

Where Are They?

Boulders around the tent keep it anchored down in strong winds. Lake Bonney, Antarctica.
Boulders around the tent keep it anchored down in strong winds. Lake Bonney, Antarctica. Photo by Kevin Dickerson.
The team is based out of McMurdo Station and spend time between the Crary Laboratory and the field camps in Taylor Valley. The field camps include F6 camp, Fryxell camp, and Hoare camp. The McMurdo Dry Valleys are located on the western coast of McMurdo Sound and form the largest relatively ice-free area on the Antarctic continent. The perennially ice-covered lakes, frozen alpine glaciers, and extensive areas of exposed soil and permafrost within the McMurdo Dry Valleys are subject to low temperatures, limited snowfall, and salt accumulation.

Latest Journals

Connecting class content in schools to the experiences of students is an important part of learning. In our middle school we do this through an expeditionary model. This means that we spend lots of time getting our students outside of the classroom and into the world. In a "normal" school year…
Weather Weather: Partly Cloudy Temp: 48-57 F Wind Speed: NNE 4 MPH UV Index: 0 Location Location: Saint Louis, Missouri Coordinates: 38.6270° N, 90.1994° W Places are defined by the creatures that live there. Most places around the world have that creature that is deeply associated with…
Here through an Amazing Sequence of Events I am so thrilled that I was selected to participate in the 2020-2021 field season of the PolarTrec program. What might be a diversion of life’s course for some, feels like a connect-the-dots to me. After graduating from Beloit College with a degree in…
McMurdo Station and Dry Valleys, Antarctica
Project Funded Title
LTER: Ecosystem Response to Amplified Landscape Connectivity in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica
Related Expeditions
Bill Henske - Educator
Maplewood-Richmond Heights Middle School

Bill Henske lives in St. Louis, MO with with wife, Christine, and daughter, Willa. He teaches general science in Maplewood, MO where he loops with his 7th and 8th grade students. Bill’s science classes use an expeditionary learning model with every unit tied to hands-on, real word, out of the school experiences such as tree climbing, hiking, ice-skating, camping, beekeeping, and canoeing. Bill has an undergraduate degree in Environmental biology form Beloit College and an M.S. in Secondary Science Curriculum from Southern Illinois University and is National Board for Professional Teaching certified. Bill first became involved in polar education as a part of PolarICE interdisciplinary project where student teams investigated novel questions using real data from polar researchers. When not teaching, Bill enjoys gardening, backpacking, hunting, canoeing, riding his electric bike, and travelling with his family.

Byron Adams - Researcher
Brigham Young University

Byron is an evolutionary ecologist in the Department of Biology at Brigham Young University where he teaches Biology, Molecular Biology, and Evolutionary Biology classes. Byron’s approach to understanding biology involves inferring evolutionary and ecological processes from patterns in nature. His most recent projects involve fieldwork in Antarctica, where he and his colleagues on the McMurdo Long Term Ecological Research project are studying the relationship between biodiversity, ecosystem functioning, and climate change. Byron gets stoked about science education and loves interacting with K-12 students and teachers. When he’s not freezing his butt off in the McMurdo Dry Valleys or southern Transantarctic Mountains, he likes spending time with his family and friends in Utah’s wild places.

Mike Gooseff - Researcher
University of Colorado, Boulder

Dr. Gooseff's research focuses on the characterization and numerical simulation of hydrologic processes and associated biogeochemical cycling. Much of my past and current research has included simulation of introduced and natural tracer transport. The locations of my research projects include polar regions (arctic Alaska, Antarctica) and continental mountain catchments (H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest, Grand Tetons, etc.).

Dry Valleys Ecosystem Study 2022 Resources

There are currently no resources associated with this expedition.