In case you missed it, you can view the archive of Bill's live event from Antarctica on 24 January 2023 on the PolarConnect Archives webpage.

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

Back Home I can't believe I am back home already. Antarctica is half a world away but is now a piece of who I am. My life will forever include references to the times I had there, the lessons I was taught, and the things I learned. Standing in line at the Auckland airport I met another person…
Celebrating and Waiting to Redeploy On Friday we had our last expedition to Miers Valley. This trip had been rescheduled several times due to weather and that morning it did not look promising. It was the coldest we had had in several weeks and the wind was biting. To our surprise, in the Dry…
Last Requests We have been trying to get in all of our last requests before closing out the field season for the Wormherders. There is a process for everything. To make sure there is an orderly procession from one year to the next, everything has to be checked off. Lab cleanup. Most of the…
In the Dark For the past week we have been trying to get our final samples of the summer season here in the Dry Valleys. Our last sampling expeditions have been delayed by weather so the last few days have been all in the lab looking to finish up anything we can. Photosynthesis extraction.…
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

The PolarTREC Field Experience

The Dry Valleys Ecosystem project (a Long Term Ecological Research program - LTER) has been a continuous line of research since the inception of the McMurdo Dry Valley LTER since 1992. This project seeks to test hypotheses regarding the response of Antarctic biotic communities to changes in climatic conditions over time. I participated in the 30th

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Teacher Bill Henske describes the science and fieldwork behind the Dry Valleys Ecosystem Study from McMurdo Field Station in Antarctica. This presentation took place on 24 January 2023.

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News clip from local St. Louis TV station KMOV4 about PolarTREC teacher Bill Henske on his expedition studying in the Dry Valleys of Antarctica.

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