Travel Magazine

Palmer Station- Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Study Area

By Vikasacharya

The Palmer Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) study area is located to the west of the Antarctic Peninsula extending South and North of the Palmer Basin from onshore to several hundred kilometers off shore. Palmer Station is one of the three United States research stations located in Antarctica. It is on Anvers Island midway down the Antarctic Peninsula at latitude 64.7 South, longitude 64.0 West. Where McMurdo is like a small city, Palmer is more like an extended family. Interactions between support personnel and NSF administrators are generally informal, even by Antarctic standards. The scientists mix in with the support personnel, doing their part of base clean-up and kitchen duties. (In fact, that is a long-standing tradition at Palmer. A few years ago some folks with good intentions tried to change things, but the collegial atmosphere on the station was disrupted. Disharmony can be incredibly disruptive at a small, isolated research outpost, and that turned out to be the case in that situation.)Palmer is supplied on a fairly regular basis by a research vessel which departs from Punta Arenas, Chile. The vessel often conducts research cruises in the vicinity of Palmer, and may return several times to the station before heading back to South America. Though the ship is sometimes prevented from getting through in the winter, because of ice conditions, there is no set period when Palmer can expect to be isolated every year. During the summer months, numerous cruise ships and private yachts stop by. Though it's always good to see new people, the visits can be so frequent and so obtrusive that they puts the work of the station in jeopardy. So the NSF has had to impose some limitations on visitation.

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