Environmental Stewardship of the McMurdo Dry Valleys

The continent of Antarctica has been formally set aside for scientific research, and the nations that have signed the Antarctic Treaty (official link ,Wikipedia link) have agreed to defer territorial claims, plans for permanent settlement, and resource development.  Antarctica is managed by many nations through the Antarctic Treaty System, not a single nation or agency. Antarctica remains a place where science can directly inform policy and scientists have a role to play in developing the rules by which they operate to preserve the form and function of these remote, novel landscapes.

The McMurdo Dry Valleys represent the largest ice-free portion of Antarctica.  The valleys are composed of glaciers, lakes, streams, and soils. Because of the uniqueness of this landscape and fragile nature of the ecosystem, the McMurdo Dry Valleys are designated as an Antarctic Specially Managed Area (ASMA) as described by the Antarctic Treaty System. Thus, human presence and activities in the McMurdo Dry Valleys are carefully regulated with the goal of minimizing impact to this landscape and ecosystem.

In the 1990s, 3 Environmental Workshops, initiated by MCM LTER scientists in collaboration with NSF and international partners, were held to develop protocols for working in the Dry Valleys, the last of which was held in 1998.  Formal reports were generated and published after each workshop (links below). These products have been used to develop management guidelines for the Dry Valleys. 

McMurdo LTER scientists have been integral to the cooperative effort to responsibly conduct scientific field research in the Dry Valleys for over two decades and we continue to work with international collaborators, NSF, and other interested parties to reduce current and potential impact on this landscape and to maintain ecosystem function.

Contacts: Michael GooseffPeter DoranJohn PriscuDiana WallCristina Takacs-Vesbach

Find here the final report for the 2016 environmental stewardship.  The executive summary highlights ten action points with emphasis on the management strategies, human impact data organization and distribution and stewardship continuity.

The file linked here is an index of the bibliography, corresponding to the actual papers and reports shown below.

Here is a link to a list of relevant reports 

And we also have a list relevant papers.  

The same resources linked above are also available in the blocks below.

Clean sampling techniques are used in the McMurdo Dry Valleys