Palmer Antarctica LTER

Antarctic Research and Supply Vessel (ARSV) Laurence M Gould docked at Palmer Antarctica LTER, January, 2002.

Key Research Findings:

PAL scientists have pioneered the use of remotely-operated vehicles and animal-mounted sensors to generate new information and images of the Antarctic that have not been available from traditional approaches.
PAL scientists have documented a remarkable decrease in the length of the sea ice season by up to 3 months and an exponential increase in ocean heat content of waters being delivered to western Antarctica via the Circumpolar Current
PAL scientists have documented an 85 percent reduction in Adélie penguin populations since 1974 and determined the cause to be altered cloud cover, winds, snowfall, sea ice cover, and other climate changes.


The Palmer LTER, established in the Fall of 1990, is one of the National Science Foundation sponsored Long Term Ecological Research Sites which is funded by the NSF Office of Polar Programs. It focuses on the pelagic marine ecosystem along the west Antarctic Peninsula, and the ecological processes which link the extent of annual sea ice to the biological dynamics of different trophic levels. Sea ice may is the major physical factor affecting the structure and function of polar biota. Interannual cycles and/or trends in the annual extent of pack ice are hypothesized to impact all levels of the food web, from total annual primary production to breeding success in seabirds. The Antarctic Peninsula region is experiencing the most rapid climate warming on the planet with large and rapid reductions in sea ice cover and corresponding responses at all levels of the foodchain.

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The Palmer Antarctica LTER, established in the Fall of 1990.

Construction of the U.S. Antarctic station was completed in 1968, replacing 'Old Palmer' that was established in 1965.

Palmer LTER established in 1990.

Palmer Antarctic Specially Managed Area (ASMA) established 2008.

Research Topics:

Marine ecology of the Southern Ocean focused within the Western Antarctic Peninsula area, including: physical forcing (atmospheric, oceanic and sea ice) of the ecosystem with emphasis on the ecological consequences of sea-ice variability; biological processes with emphasis on microbial, primary production and the life-history parameters of secondary producers (krill) and apex predators (penguins); physical/optical/chemical/biological modeling that links ecosystem processes to environmental variables.

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