Project Information
LTER: Ecological Response and Resilience to “Press-Pulse” Disturbances and a Recent Decadal Reversal in Sea Ice Trends Along the West Antarctic Peninsula
Start Date:
End Date:
Project Website(s)
The goal of all LTER sites is to conduct policy-relevant ecosystem research for questions that require tens of years of data and cover large geographical areas. The Palmer Antarctica Long Term Ecological Research (PAL-LTER) site has been in operation since 1990 and has been studying how the marine ecosystem west of the Antarctica Peninsula (WAP) is responding to a climate that is changing as rapidly as any place on the Earth. The study is evaluating how warming conditions and decreased ice cover leading to extended periods of open water are affecting many aspects of ecosystem function. The team is using combined cutting-edge approaches including yearly ship-based research cruises, small-boat weekly sampling, autonomous vehicles, animal biologging, oceanographic floats and seafloor moorings, manipulative lab-based process studies and modeling to evaluate both seasonal and annual ecosystem responses. These combined approaches are allowing for the study the ecosystem changes at scales needed to assess both short-term and long-term drivers. The study region also includes submarine canyons that are special regions of enhanced biological activity within the WAP. This research program is paired with a comprehensive education and outreach program promoting the global significance of Antarctic science and research. In addition to training for graduate and undergraduate students, they are using newly-developed Polar Literacy Principles as a foundation in a virtual schoolyard program that shares polar instructional materials and provides learning opportunities for K-12 educators. The PAL-LTER team is also leveraging the development of Out of School Time materials for afterschool and summer camp programs, sharing Palmer LTER-specific teaching materials with University, Museum, and 4-H Special Interest Club partners. Polar ecosystems are among the most rapidly changing on Earth. The Palmer LTER (PAL-LTER) program builds on three decades of coordinated research along the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula (WAP) to gain new mechanistic and predictive understanding of ecosystem changes in response to disturbances spanning long-term decadal (press) drivers and changes due to higher-frequency (pulse) drivers, such as large storms and extreme seasonal anomaly in sea ice cover. The influence of major natural climate modes that modulate variations in sea ice, weather, and oceanographic conditions to drive changes in ecosystem structure and function (e.g., El Nio Southern Oscillation and Southern Annular Mode) are being studied at multiple time scales from diel, seasonal, interannual, to decadal intervals, and space scalesfrom hemispheric to global scale investigated by remote sensing, the regional scales. Specifically, the team is evaluating how variability of physical properties (such as vertical and alongshore connectivity processes) interact to modulate biogeochemical cycling and community ecology in the WAP region. The study is providing an evaluation of ecosystem resilience and ecological responses to long-term press-pulse drivers and a decadal-level reversal in sea ice coverage. This program is providing fundamental understanding of population and biogeochemical responses for a marine ecosystem experiencing profound change.
Person Role
Schofield, Oscar Investigator and contact
Steinberg, Deborah Co-Investigator
Antarctic Integrated System Science Award # 2026045
AMD - DIF Record(s)
Deployment Type
LMG2301 ship expedition
NBP2113 ship expedition
Data Management Plan
None in the Database
Product Level:
1 (processed data)
Repository Title (link) Format(s) Status
EDI Palmer LTER data in the Environmental Data Initiative Repository Not Provided exists
R2R Expedition Data of NBP2113 None exists
R2R Expedition Data of LMG2301 None exists

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