Navigation Links
Antarctica's coldest, darkest season draws Montana State University researchers
Date:3/10/2008

BOZEMAN, Mont. -- John Priscu normally works in Antarctica during its warmest and longest days. He usually shares the continent with scientists from all over the world.

This year is different.

The Montana State University scientist with an international reputation for polar research is spending his 24th season in Antarctica with no other researchers except the 17 members of his team. They're there for 2 1/2 months at the beginning of the coldest and darkest part of the year. During Antarctica's winter -- also called the "Polar Night" -- daylight disappears completely and temperatures can reach minus-55 degrees F.

He was looking forward to it, Priscu said before leaving Bozeman in January. He had been planning the trip for nine years and said it is vital.

He wants to get a more complete picture of what's happening in the lakes and liquid water that exist under Antarctica's glaciers, Priscu said. That's why he asked the National Science Foundation, which funds his research, if he could go at a different time of year. Spending a couple of months in Antarctica at the same time every year for decades is invaluable, but not good enough.

"Antarctica doesn't stop in the winter," Priscu said.

Priscu's team is working on several research projects, one of which is aimed at better understanding how microorganisms adapt to the loss of light. The researchers know that microbes stop converting sunlight into energy and start consuming organic carbon in the dark, but they want to learn more. The answers relate to global warming and carbon balance, Priscu said.

Priscu typically goes to Antarctica in October and returns in December. This year, he and Barbara Vaughn left Bozeman on Jan. 29 to get married in New Zealand. After their Feb. 5 wedding and a week-long honeymoon, Vaughn returned to Bozeman and Priscu continued on to Antarctica to join some of his team members already in Antarctica. This year's team includes former MSU students, as well as graduate students and postgraduate students from England, Scotland and Canada.

One team member is Amy Chiuchiolo, an MSU research associate who has traveled to Antarctica six times in the past. Her latest trip before this ended before Christmas.

"It's hard to go away every year for a couple of months, but it's fun," she said. "You can't beat doing field work."

Priscu said his team members flew through New Zealand to Antarctica where they landed in a C-17 military transport airplane on a glacier about an hour away from McMurdo Station, the largest community in Antarctica. Large-tracked vehicles then took them to McMurdo where approximately 500 people provide support services. To collect and process samples, the team members fly by helicopter to field stations near the lakes in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Transantarctic Mountains.

The field stations have one building where the researchers work with their samples, Priscu said. Diesel generators supply electricity. The researchers sleep in tents. To move around camp, they wear headlamps or carry flashlights when the auroras and the moon are not supplying light.

"I have never had to turn a light on before in the field camp," Chiuchiolo said. The sun shines 24 hours a day during the height of an Antarctic summer.

If conditions allow, the entire team will leave Antarctica on April 17, Priscu said. Priscu, 55, said he doesn't expect to return to Antarctica for another Polar Night. This one alone took almost a decade of planning.

"This is not an old man's game," he said.

He does plan to return as usual during the Antarctic summers.


'/>"/>

Contact: Evelyn Boswell
evelynb@montana.edu
406-994-5135
Montana State University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Research project aims to control sunlight, extend growing season and conserve energy
2. Wildlife Conservation Society study finds seasonal seas save corals with tough love
3. ANDRILLs 2nd Antarctic drilling season exceeds all expectations
4. A wheat for all seasons -- and reasons
5. Green leather is in this season
6. Michael A. Betts, Seasoned Financial Services Executive, Joins CIC Board of Directors
7. Michael A. Betts, Seasoned Financial Services Executive, Joins CIC Board of Directors
8. Mongolian paleontologists with a dream come to Montana State University
9. Montana State University researcher finds renewed interest in turning algae into fuel
10. New dinosaur species found in Montana
11. State, UH teaming up to reduce (ob)noxious air emissions
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/2/2016)... 2, 2016 This BCC Research report ... by reviewing the recent advances in high throughput ... the field forward. Includes forecast through 2019. ... challenges and opportunities that exist in the bioinformatic ... developers, as well as IT and bioinformatics service ...
(Date:2/1/2016)... 2016 Rising sales of consumer ... touchfree intuitive gesture control market size ... of consumer electronics coupled with new technological advancements to ... size through 2020   --> ... technological advancements to drive global touchfree intuitive gesture control ...
(Date:1/25/2016)... BELL, Pa. , Jan. 25, 2016   Unisys Corporation ... recognition system at John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport, ... Border Protection (CBP) identify imposters attempting to enter ... do not belong to them. pilot testing of ... out initially at three terminals at JFK during January 2016. ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/10/2016)... ... February 10, 2016 , ... ... that it has joined the Human Vaccines Project, a public-private partnership to ... cancer. , The Human Vaccines Project brings together leading pharmaceutical and ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... , Feb. 10, 2016  Allergan plc (NYSE: ... that Brent Saunders , Allergan,s CEO and President, ... fireside chat session at the RBC Capital Markets Healthcare ... ET at The New York Palace Hotel in ... be webcast live and can be accessed on Allergan,s ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... ... February 10, 2016 , ... Benchmark Research, a fully-integrated network ... two long-standing principal investigators (PI) to the roles of Chief Medical Officer, Clinical ... Dr. Laurence Chu, a Benchmark Research PI in the Austin office, will assume ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... ... ... LATHAM, NEW YORK... Marktech Optoelectronics will feature their new high-speed InGaAs ... Moscone Center from February 16-18, 2016, and at the healthcare-focused BiOS Expo on February ... standard packages feature a TO-46 metal can with active areas of 1.0mm and 1.5mm ...
Breaking Biology Technology: