This summer, we decided to tackle the climax of the Beyond the Ice story, Charcot Island. The scientists of the LTER had been anticipating this leg of their trip the most because they had been unable to reach it last year. The most important piece of their science lied here, and it was paramount that they were able to include Charcot in their research.
The voice of our story, Jen Mannas, emphasizes this importance. A scientist who studies penguins, she led the team that studied Charcot this year along with Hugh Ducklow, the lead scientist of the LTER at Palmer Station. According to Mannas, Charcot is the southernmost Adelie penguin population on the Antarctic Peninsula. Since it hasn?t started to change yet, it?s a good indicator of what the Antarctic Peninsula used to be like. By studying how the Adelie penguins have evolved to live in places like Palmer and Avian Island compared to Charcot, the scientists can see just how much the Western Antarctic Peninsula has changed. All of this research will hopefully culminate into a better understanding of how the global system may change.
What we hope by the end of this summer is to put together a sequence that entails the experiences that Jen, Hugh, and the Captain went through and the vivid obstacles they faced. From the miles of pack ice ahead of the Gould to the struggles that penguins face as they climb up the rock face, Charcot Island is a total adventure.