What Are They Doing?

The McMurdo Dry Valleys Long-term Ecological Research (LTER) project is an interdisciplinary study of the aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems in a cold desert region of Antarctica. The McMurdo LTER project is one of 21 sites comprising the National Science Foundation’s LTER Network, where scientists conduct long-term ecological research in a broad array of ecosystems. Dr. Doran studies the lakes of the Dry Valleys. His team collects long-term data on the physical and chemical conditions within the lakes and relates them to biological diversity and processes. Ms. Ellwood was part of a SCUBA diving crew working under the lake ice to collect information about the conditions on the bottom of the lake (benthos).

Where Are They?

The McMurdo Dry Valleys are located on the western coast of McMurdo Sound (77°00'S 162°52'E) and form the largest relatively ice-free area (approximately 4800 square kilometers) on the Antarctic continent. 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. Thus, the dry valleys represent a region where life approaches its environmental limits. The dry valleys are dominated by microorganisms, mosses, lichens, and relatively few groups of invertebrates; higher forms of life are virtually non-existent.

Expedition Map

Dates
-
Location
Dry Valleys, Antarctica
Project Funded Title
McMurdo Dry Valleys LTER
Robin Ellwood - Teacher
Teacher
Rye Junior High

Robin Ellwood has always had an affinity for the outdoors. Her passion for environmental systems led her to pursue a degree in Zoology from the University of New Hampshire. One of her favorite experiences was participating in a summer program at the Isles of Shoals Marine Laboratory in the Gulf of Maine where she took an Underwater Research course. This experience, coupled with her teaching experience as a SCUBA instructor, sparked a desire to become a science teacher. Upon completing a Masters Degree in Science Education, Ms. Ellwood forged a loyal relationship with Rye Junior High School in the seacoast town of Rye, New Hampshire. She has been teaching 8th grade science there ever since, and is currently working on a Ph.D. in science education. Ms. Ellwood’s goal is to bring the spirit of life-long learning to her students and to create innovative field research opportunities for students.

Peter Doran - Researcher
Researcher
University of Illinois at Chicago

Peter Doran is an associate professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences and active research scientist at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is a veteran of numerous expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic studying climate and ecosystem change. Ms. Ellwood worked with Dr. Doran’s Antarctic research team in 2004.

Latest Journals

After several days of missed connections and 10 hour layovers before "next available flights," I have landed back in NH! I must say that the dark nights are feeling a bit odd, but it is good to be home! I wish to thank, one more time, Dr. Peter Doran for inviting me to join his team…
Storms in McMurdo, even mild ones can cause travel problems. I was re-scheduled to leave "The Ice” today. I have, indeed, made it to New Zealand! The plan (plans in Antarctica are always subject to change!) was for a C-17 to fly in from New Zealand, unload the new people arriving in Antarctica,…
I am still in McMurdo - this is not a bad place to be! Apparently there is bad weather somewhere because the C-17 that was supposed to land today is not coming due to weather. That means I get an extra day in "town."I walked down to the helo pad to say goodbye to the ENDURANCE team.…
Another phenomenal start to the day! A live chat held via the Internet with folks all over the country including a place special to my heart: Rye Junior High! It was wonderful to hear familiar voices and to "meet" some new folks! Thanks to PolarTREC for organizing the event, to Dr. Peter…
The theme for the day: Packing! Everything must be packed up and ready to go to the field. The team leaves for the field Wednesday, but everything must basically be packed up today so we can organize helo loads. We also needed to break down the Bot House tent and flooring system so that it can be…
In Antarctica, things don't always go as planned! We had originally planned to breakdown the Bot House today and start packaging it up for shipment (via helicopter) to the Dry Valleys. But, the electricians need to do a bit more work on it, so it is not quite ready to be disassembled. In the mean…

Lake Ecosystems in Antarctica Resources

Overview

Students will develop research questions that will help them develop an ecosystem profile (species/conditions etc.) of a local pond. Their results will be compared with data from the McMurdo Dry Valley Lakes in Antarctica. Discussions about climate and energy dynamics will be conducted as conclusions are drawn.

Lesson
Antarctic
More than a week
Middle School and Up
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Overview

During this lesson, students will learn basic glacial features and how to interpret Topographic maps and satellite images in order to create a model replica of a glacier valley. The Dry Valleys of Antarctica have classic glacial features, both in the barren valleys and in the remaining glaciers in the area.

Lesson
Antarctic
More than a week
Middle School and Up
Download, Share, and Remix

Overview

Students will develop research questions that will help them develop an ecosystem profile (species/conditions/etc.) of a local pond. Their results will be compared with data from the McMurdo Dry Valley Lakes in Antarctica. Discussions about climate and energy dynamics will be conducted as conclusions are drawn.

Activity
Antarctic
More than a week
Middle School and Up
Download, Share, and Remix

Overview

During this lesson, students will learn basic glacial features and how to interpret Topographic maps and satellite images in order to create a model replica of a glacier valley. The Dry Valleys of Antarctica have classic glacial features, both in the barren valleys and in the remaining glaciers in the area.

Activity
Antarctic
More than a week
Middle School and Up
Download, Share, and Remix

Article about teacher, Robin Ellwood and her expedition to Antarctica, 2008. From The New Hampshire, a student-run newspaper with the University of New Hampshire.

Article
Antarctic
All Aged
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