GLarsen 2018.04 Whale resized
You’re out in a zodiac, the air is crisp, the ocean is choppy, the bow of the boat comes down off of a rolling wave to reveal the dorsal fin of a humpback whale in the distance. Trailing close behind is a smaller dorsal fin. You watch from a distance as mother and calf take turns surfacing for air – gracefully soaring along the shorelines of several islands on their way out to sea. Today, you are a whaler!

Without revealing my age, I confess that my first expedition to a polar region of the planet (the sub-Antarctic island of Kerguelen in the Southern Indian Ocean) provided a glimpse of truly historic ‘comms’ (communications). Here in 1982, at the Port-aux-Français research station, communicating with family and friends was accomplished by sending a telegram.

When I arrived at Palmer Station this past February, I set about what has become a routine whenever I am fortunate enough to visit and live at the station: an assessment of how climate change has altered the region since my last visit.


Taking organic chemistry as an undergraduate almost finished my career in biology before it ever started. So, it’s ironic that I am now part of a project that involves both biology and chemistry. Fortunately, I have discovered that the “hands-on” chemistry in this project is remarkably like doing your laundry!

As someone who has chronically inhabited graduate student apartments, I have never lived in a house with a backyard. To my delight, Palmer Station has a “backyard” to beat all backyards, complete with seals and skiing!

Chuck Cormorant ride the waves wind

It has been said of Palmer weather “if you don’t like it, wait a few minutes”. This was obvious the other day as not only Station’s weather changed, but so too its climate! David Bowie sang: “Ch-Ch-ch-changes …. time can change me, but I can’t trace time”. Nonetheless, I will try to trace some rather dramatic recent changes in the following paragraphs.

sheathbill yoga
Question: Is this an antarctic chicken doing yoga on a rooftop?
Answer: No, it is Snow White…..

Sabarina capturing underwater 1
A picture is worth a thousand words – whenever I try to paint an image with words describing the beauty of the underwater world in Antarctica, I like to pull out my pictures and videos because

The Antarctic brown alga Cystosphaera jacquinotii
I gave the weekly science talk on Tuesday night, giving the staff and other scientists on station background about what everyone on our project is doing and why. In my introduction I used one of my favorite but always true set of lines: “Don’t let anyone tell you that there are no forests in Antarctica. There are! They are forests of macroalgae (seaweeds) beneath the sea right outside our station.”

MCurtis 2018.03 MesocosmSnow resized

What do tropical storm-force winds, ten aquaria, and lots of snails have in common? They are all key components to the excitement that has comprised our past week!


If you are out at remote field station and you need something specific or something breaks, you are either lucky and have spare parts around or you need to be inventive and build it yourself.


Lots of people like to fish; the communion with nature, the smells of salt water, and the tap-pity-tap tug on the line. And then there’s Palmer Station’s hazardous waste expert, Rob Bergeron.

MCurtis 2018.04 Palmer resized
Antarctica seems like such an exotic place. But just how different is daily life at a remote field station from life back at home?

The Palmer Station community at the station's 50th anniversary celebration
Tuesday was a very special day here at Palmer Station and we threw a party – a birthday party. Tuesday, 20 March 2018, was the 50th anniversary of the dedication of the current station.