Headed for an adventure:
Punta Arenas is a small town with a lot of history. This includes Sir Ernest Shackleton’s favorite bar. Sir Ernest is known for bringing his crew safely back home after their ship the Endurance got stuck in the ice. He made an incredible 600-mile voyage to a whaling station in South Georgia with only a few men. They saw the sun only twice, but highly precise navigation ensured they did not miss this Island (or else they would have perished en route to Africa if they had bypassed South Georgia).
In the spirit of Sir Ernest, the three of us toasted to the beginning of an adventure: Dr. Bruce Hungate - director of the Center of Ecosystem Science and Society, Kelly McMillen - my graduate student at Texas Tech, and I, Natasja van Gestel - Assistant professor at Texas Tech.
Please follow me as I write about our adventure(s) in Antarctica!! The goal of my scientific project is to learn more about the carbon cycle in very young ecosystems that are rapidly warming. Our study area behind the Palmer Research Station was covered by a glacier, but record warming rates (compared to the rest of the planet) caused the glacier to retreat hundreds of meters, thereby exposing soils once again - providing new opportunities for plants and microbes!