The End of Cold: McMurdo Dry Valleys Unique Environment Threatened

Alex Wierbinski's picture

By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 20 March 2019


The End of Cold
McMurdo Dry Valleys Unique Environment Threatened-Changing

McMurdo Dry Valleys in Antarctica.
 McMurdo Dry Valleys LTER.
Fantastic photo credit: McMurdo Dry Valleys LTER, full-sized.


Researchers analyze biodiversity patterns in Antarctic Dry Valleys,
Virginia Tech, March 20, 2019.


" collaborative team that analyzed biodiversity patterns in the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica."

"...understanding of the whole (Dry Valleys) community, from bacteria to multicellular invertebrates."

"...analyzing the physical and geochemical drivers that predict biodiversity patterns."

New Knowledge
"...considers the entire community of soil organisms: cyanobacteria, heterotrophic bacteria, nematodes, and other microscopic invertebrates. The scientists studied the factors that determine the distribution and abundance of these organisms, as well as temperature, topography, distance to the coast, and soil properties, such as water and pH levels, in their analysis."

More Life is Coming
"They expect that with increasing temperatures, the thawing of ice will create environments that select for nematode species more adapted to warmer and wetter environments. Early indications of this have already been observed in the team's long-term monitoring studies of soil communities..."


Original Article

A Closer Look

Feet on the Ground View of McMurdo
In the McMurdo Dry Valley environment, by J Levy from Portland State.
Credit for Image by Joseph Levy of Portland State University.


Rapid, widespread changes may be coming to Antarctica's Dry Valleys, study finds,
Portland State University, October 9, 2018.


First, an introduction to a unique environment

McMurdo Dry Valleys
One of the most extreme places on Earth


"Dry Valleys are so named because of their extremely low humidity and their lack of snow or ice of the world's most extreme deserts...the largest ice-free region in Antarctica...unique conditions in the Dry Valleys are caused, in part, by katabatic winds; these occur when cold, dense air is pulled downhill by the force of gravity. The winds can reach speeds of 320 kilometres per hour (200 mph), heating as they descend, and evaporating all water, ice and snow."

"Scientists consider the Dry Valleys perhaps the closest of any terrestrial environment to the planet Mars, and thus an important source of insights into possible extraterrestrial life."

"...field expedition in 2013 to University test a drill designed for sampling on Mars in the permafrost of the driest parts of the valleys...They found no living organisms in the permafrost, the first location on the planet visited by humans with no active microbial life."



"...the McMurdo Dry Valleys, has undergone changes over the past decade and the recent discovery of thawing permafrost, thinning glaciers and melting ground ice by a Portland State University-led research team are signs that rapid and widespread change could be on the horizon."

"...used an airborne laser scanner, or lidar, to measure the surface elevations of glaciers, soils and ice-covered lakes in Antarctica's largest exposed land region. The team then compared the elevations to similar measurements made in 2001 by a different project."

"Millions of cubic meters of buried ice have melted in the last decade..."

"It's unprecedented change over the historic period of Antarctica and perhaps since the end of the last ice age. If it keeps up, it could remove the last ice deposits from some valleys in about five hundred years.”

The unique environment will be gone long before then...

Human-Hammer Time
"The valleys have been considered almost timeless, yet here we see some changes that would be considered rapid even in more temperate climates."

Preview of the Future
”The melting mirrors the kind of melting scientists expect to see in the coming decades if climate warming catches up with the more isolated corners of Antarctica.”

Major Reorganization
"...the Dry Valleys may be on the threshold of a major reorganization."





Antarctic Map
Canada/British Antarctic Survey detailed map of Antarctica
Canada's BAS PDF Antarctic Map



End of Cold


END OF COLD: Say Goodbye to Permafrost


The End of Cold, 2018: Arctic Mountain Glaciers Melting Rapidly


The End of Cold, 2018: Ice Caps Racing Away


Killing the Planet: End of Cold, Glaciers are Crashing


The Trend Continues: Everything Melting, The End of Cold




Global Warming Avalanches: Here Comes the Himalayan Ice


Climate Change: Ice News, Radical Reduction in Bridge Glacier, Alaska



Two New Climate Analysis: Short Term, A New Form of Climate Analysis. Long Term: Crashing Through Tipping Points





Water & Ice News





October 2018 News of Man & Nature






News from Nature


Climate Destruction News



Bee News

Bear News

Spider Forum

Bird News

Small Mammals

Frogs and Reptiles

Butterfly News


Health and Fitness

Mountain Safety

Mosquito News

Female Trail

High Sierra History


Astro-Phys, Space, & Science News

High Sierra Geology News

Fish, Oceans, & Water News



All High Sierra News





McMurdo Dry Valleys in Antarctica, two pieces of research, climate change, effects , melting, permafrost, thinning, glaciers, higher, temps, thaw


Originally Published
2018-10-09 14:48:16

Powered by Drupal, an open source content management system

Latest News: RSS FEED

Syndicate content

Support Tahoe to Whitney

The Tahoe to Whitney Trail Guide and Magazine are walked, written, funded, and supported by my efforts, with the help of kindred spirits and my sister.

We offer valuable Trail Guide, Skills, Weather, News and Analysis.

My goal is to get you out to see your natural and social potential. Help me keep this unique resource accessible and expanding towards its potential. We've a lot of miles to cover ahead...

If you feel these efforts are valuable, I'm cordially inviting you to support them, here:



I am currently working towards publishing the completed guide between Tahoe & Yosemite as an e-book, while converting this "blog" to a fine magazine format. You will like the results! Help Tahoe to Whitney reach its potential!


Why Support Tahoe to Whitney?
Mission Statement