Penn State geography professor to conduct fieldwork in Antartica

University Park, Pa. — Geography professor Derrick Lampkin will do fieldwork in Antarctica this month to study the unique and isolated ecosystem of the Dry Valleys and how it is affected by climate change.

Historically, there has been little melt, but in recent years, scientists have seen melting on the surface, “which they suspect comes from three sources: glaciers, melt from permafrost, and snow that melts instead of turning into water vapor,” he said.

Lampkin will catalog these changes in the surface hydrology of the Dry Valley system through field work to document soil moisture and surface spectral information. Such information will be used to map out which sources are responsible for numerous wet patches and streams, he said.

Field measurements will be used to leverage remote sensing technology to understand changes in the surface hydrology in these extreme environments.

“My work this field season is to create a representative spectral library of these respective surface conditions -- wetsoil, dry, streams, glaciers -- such that we can use high-resolution satellite imagery to extract track changes in moisture and development of melt streams and channels,” he said.

Lampkin is working with Michael Gooseff in Penn State’s Department of Civil Engineering.

The work is funded by a National Science Foundation EAGER grant and the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences.

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Last Updated March 21, 2011