October 30, 2002
This November we (John and Karen),
two graduate students from the University of Colorado-Boulder, are
heading to Antarctica to conduct research for a Long-Term Ecological
Research (LTER) project sponsored by the National Science Foundation.
Along with other scientists from
all over the U.S., we’ll be living and working in the Dry Valleys, one
of the most extreme deserts on the planet. There, ironically, we’ll
be studying streams. During the austral summer, temperatures rise
enough for glaciers protruding into the valleys to begin melting. The
meltwater forms creeks that empty into lakes covered by ice that is
two to three stories thick.
We’d like to invite you and your
students to check out weekly reports and accompanying digital photos
that we’ll be posting on our web site from mid-November through the
end of January. These reports will discuss different components of
the Dry Valleys’ polar desert ecosystem, what it’s like to live in the
Dry Valleys, and what’s involved in conducting scientific research.
Report topics will likely include:
an introduction to the Dry Valleys, survival training, wind and sun
(24 hours of sunlight), glaciers, lakes, streams, soils and rocks, and
environmental management (i.e. what we do with our poop and garbage).
The first report will be posted
sometime during the week of November 11 (we’ll e-mail you the specific
date – sometimes getting to the continent can be a bit tricky) and on
each Wednesday after that through January 29, 2003. There will be no
reports on December 25 and January 1, however, because of the end of
the year holidays.
We’d also be excited to hear and
respond to kids’ and your questions and ideas via e-mail.
Finally, periodically throughout
the season, we’ll post questions for the kids on the web site. For
instance, we may ask for input on how to tackle a particular problem.
We may also ask the kids “Make a Difference” questions. For example,
personnel in Antarctic stations and camps try to minimize the amount
of waste they generate. So, we might ask the kids what they can do to
decrease the amount of stuff they throw away.
To register for this project, please e-mail us at
firstname.lastname@example.org and include the following
- Your name
- Name of your school or organization
- Location of your school or organization
- Grade level of your students
- Number of students in your class
We’ll notify you via e-mail when
the web site is up and running, and every time a report is posted.
This field season is the tenth
anniversary of the Dry Valleys’ LTER. We hope that you and your
students will check out the action, learn about this polar desert
ecosystem along with us, and have fun!
To learn more, go to
John Gartner, Karen Cozzetto
Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR)
University of Colorado