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Palmer Station

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Research Areas:
NSF Award:

Science, Operations, and Maintenance Support for the United States Antarctic Program  (Raytheon Technical Services Company LLC)

Research Focus & Anticipated Benefits

Palmer Station, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), is superbly located for biological studies of birds, seals, and other components of the marine ecosystem. It has a large and extensively equipped laboratory and sea water aquaria. In 1990 it was designated by the National Science Foundation as a long term ecological research (LTER) site. Ocean and climate systems, aeronomy and astrophysics, glaciology also have been pursued at and around Palmer. The station operates in conjunction with a research ship, the R/V Laurence M. Gould.

Palmer Station is located on a protected harbor on the southwestern coast of Anvers Island off the Antarctica Peninsula. Palmer is the only U.S. Antarctic station north of the Antarctic Circle. The temperature is mild, with monthly averages ranging from minus 10 degrees Celsius in July and August to 2 degrees Celsius in January and February but the extremes range from minus 31 degrees Celsius to 9 degrees Celsius.

The station, built on solid rock, consists of two major buildings and three smaller ones, along with two large fuel tanks, a helicopter pad, and a dock. Construction was completed in 1968, replacing a prefabricated wood structure ("Old Palmer," established in 1965) two kilometers away across Arthur Harbor. Over 40 people can occupy Palmer in the summer and 10 in the winter, although the winter isolation at Palmer is not as long as it is at the McMurdo and South Pole stations.

Palmer Station is named for Nathaniel B. Palmer, a Connecticut sealer who, on November 17, 1820, during an exploratory voyage ranging southward from the South Shetland Islands, may have been the first person to see Antarctica.

Education & Outreach

The U.S. Antarctic Program supports a variety of education and outreach efforts to the general public, including but not limited to the following.

PolarTREC is an educational research experience in which K-12 teachers participate in polar research, working closely with scientists as a pathway to improving science education. The program’s Virtual Base Camp enables interested parties to learn about the research conducted by PolarTREC participants.

The ANDRILL Research Immersion for Science Educators (ARISE) program is open to kindergarten through college science educators from Germany, Italy, New Zealand, and the United States. All applicants must have at least three years of science teaching experience in a K-16 school or institution not including the current school year. ARISE facilitates the development of mechanisms and materials to effectively connect the Antarctic Geological Drilling program (ANDRILL) with the public. The program provides science educators with an inside view of ANDRILL, engages them in authentic Antarctic geoscience, and utilizes their expertise in education to develop and implement innovative approaches to geoscience education and public outreach.

NSF Award:  0000373 

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  • Palmer Station, Antarctica, at sunrise
Palmer Station, Antarctica, at sunrise
Glenn Grant, National Science Foundation