Investigating freshwater inputs along the Antarctic Peninsula

Experience Type: 
Research Cruise
Date Participated: 
December, 2012 to February, 2013
Experience Description: 

My most recent and certainly most memorable life experiences can be credited to many people and organizations, most notable being the Burroughs and Chapin Center for Marine and Wetland Studies and associated faculty.  Through the teachings and support of several talented BCCMWS faculty members I embarked on a 67 day journey to the Western Antarctic Peninsula (WAP)!  But, I was not alone on this endeavor.  In Early December, our team of eight scientists (including four professors, three graduate students, and one educational specialist) boarded a research vessel, the Lawrence M. Gould (LMG), and headed south.  The team of individuals I was privy to work with included BCCMWS’s own Dr.’s Rick Peterson and Rich Viso for a combined three Coastal Carolina affiliates.  The remainder of the group included Reide Corbett, head of the Antarctic expedition, and his assemblage of UNC-Coastal Studies Institute (and East Carolina University) scientists. We set sail to answer questions regarding the amount of fresh water leaving the WAP and the associated delivery of materials (including nutrients, iron in particular) to the coastal waters.  Furthermore, we were interested in discerning the sources of glacial melt to coastal waters (those including overland and subsurface routes) and assessing the transport of that water and constituents to the open ocean. 

To investigate the above interests, Dr. Corbett formulated a sampling plan focused on three regions: the open ocean, coastal waters (along the peninsula) and terrestrial samples (collected from streams and subsurface waters).  Our eight man team spent nearly two weeks traveling to and sampling sites, situated in the Southern Ocean, for dissolved constituents including iron (and other nutrients) and chemical signatures unique to waters of terrestrial origin.  From there, I said farewell to some of my new ECU friends as well as my CCU cohorts (one of which happens to be my major advisor). And our eight man team dropped to four.  Four of us remained on Anvers Island (located west of the Antarctic continent) and became resident of a 45 person US research facility, Palmer Station.  The next five weeks were then spent sampling coastal and terrestrial waters for the same dissolved materials mentioned above.  What a life!  Each day was an adventure, filled with unpredictable weather, new friendships, and (hopefully) good results!

If a more detailed desciption of my experiences is desired email me: lepeters@g.coastal.edu.

Comment: 

This adventure, having been my first research cruise and expedition (of this length), has forever changed me.  Overall, this experience helped me build the confidence in my own scientific abilities and allow me the opportunity to embrace my talents and further develop my critical thinking skills.  Time away from my major advisor and other influential individuals left me no choice but to make decisions guided only by their teachings.   Most notably, I was free to interact with scientists from all over the globe each with unique interests and privileged to assist projects outside of my own.  Working with researches on projects outside of my most obvious discipline was an eye-opening experience which certainly broadens the horizons for future endeavors! A huge thank you to all involved!