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  October 30, 2002

Hi all,

This November we (John and Karen), two graduate students from the University of Colorado-Boulder, are heading to Antarctica to conduct research for a Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) project sponsored by the National Science Foundation. 

Along with other scientists from all over the U.S., we’ll be living and working in the Dry Valleys, one of the most extreme deserts on the planet.  There, ironically, we’ll be studying streams.  During the austral summer, temperatures rise enough for glaciers protruding into the valleys to begin melting.  The meltwater forms creeks that empty into lakes covered by ice that is two to three stories thick.

We’d like to invite you and your students to check out weekly reports and accompanying digital photos that we’ll be posting on our web site from mid-November through the end of January.  These reports will discuss different components of the Dry Valleys’ polar desert ecosystem, what it’s like to live in the Dry Valleys, and what’s involved in conducting scientific research. 

Report topics will likely include: an introduction to the Dry Valleys, survival training, wind and sun (24 hours of sunlight), glaciers, lakes, streams, soils and rocks, and environmental management (i.e. what we do with our poop and garbage). 

The first report will be posted sometime during the week of November 11 (we’ll e-mail you the specific date – sometimes getting to the continent can be a bit tricky) and on each Wednesday after that through January 29, 2003.  There will be no reports on December 25 and January 1, however, because of the end of the year holidays.

We’d also be excited to hear and respond to kids’ and your questions and ideas via e-mail. 

Finally, periodically throughout the season, we’ll post questions for the kids on the web site.  For instance, we may ask for input on how to tackle a particular problem.  We may also ask the kids “Make a Difference” questions.  For example, personnel in Antarctic stations and camps try to minimize the amount of waste they generate.  So, we might ask the kids what they can do to decrease the amount of stuff they throw away.

To register for this project, please e-mail us at and include the following information:

  • Your name
  • Name of your school or organization
  • Location of your school or organization
  • Grade level of your students
  • Number of students in your class

We’ll notify you via e-mail when the web site is up and running, and every time a report is posted.

This field season is the tenth anniversary of the Dry Valleys’ LTER.  We hope that you and your students will check out the action, learn about this polar desert ecosystem along with us, and have fun!

To learn more, go to

John Gartner, Karen Cozzetto
Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR)
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO

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