Submitted by: Benjamin Alsip
Program: Earth and Environmental Sciences, MS
Atop Canada Glacier where it meets Taylor Valley in Antarctica, Maciej Obryk (right) and myself were aided by a mountaineer, Thomas Nylen (left), in maintaining a Long Term Ecological Research Network (LTER) meteorological station. Glacier and land-based stations throughout the McMurdo Dry Valleys monitor conditions and relay the data to LTER researchers around the globe. The data gathered help quantify phenomena being studied by many LTER projects, including our own, which examines how perennially ice-covered lakes are responding to climate change.
Servicing these meteorological stations was a clear highlight of my time in Antarctica. We accessed most stations by helicopter, so each leg of a maintenance run afforded unforgettable aerial views of the Dry Valleys. However, in some conditions you had less than a minute to complete a task before your fingers were useless, so the beauty of our surroundings was inextricable from their harsh reality.