Biogeographic Assessment of Antarctic Coastal Habitats (2021-2022)

Polar ecosystems are changing rapidly amid global climate change. Near Palmer Station, Antarctica, weather patterns are shifting from cold, dry, predictable patterns toward a wetter, more variable environment, and species are responding accordingly. Scientists are studying aspects of this ecological shift at Palmer Station, targeting select species and processes for lab and field research. 

New remote sensing techniques are helping to expand these efforts by integrating current studies into a more holistic context of regional biogeography. Unoccupied aircraft systems (UASs or drones) provide ultra-high-resolution spatial data to describe entire landscapes, capturing species presence, land cover and changes over time in this shifting polar ecosystem. 

Teaming up with leading scientists, this project team integrated diverse remote sensing datasets with on-site data and expertise from Palmer Station to establish new baselines for current study and future comparisons of dynamic Antarctic coastal habitats. The project built on data collected at Palmer Station through the Duke Marine Robotics and Remote Sensing lab and the NSF Palmer Antarctica Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) site. 

Learn more about this project team by viewing the team's video.


Fall 2021 – Summer 2022

Team Outputs

Integrating Diverse Data to Evaluate Climate Change in Antarctica (2022 Fortin Foundation Bass Connections Virtual Showcase)

Integrating Diverse Data to Characterize Antarctic Biogeography (poster by Gregory Larsen, Akash Mullick, Chelsea Tuohy, Hanna Varga, Ziya Zhou, Zoe Wong, Aimi Wen, Catherine Brenner and David Johnston, presented at Fortin Foundation Bass Connections Showcase, Duke University, April 13, 2022)

A Timeline of Antarctic Exploration and Exploitation


Chelsea Tuohy

This Team in the News

Faculty Perspectives: David Johnston

Three Environmental Pathways Through Bass Connections

Meet the Members of the 2021-2022 Bass Connections Student Advisory Council

Summer Spotlights: How Four Ph.D. Students Advanced Their Research

Summer Research Snapshots 2021

See earlier related team, Ocean Evidence Gap Map (2021-2022).


Image: Antarctica: Open Water at McMurdo Station, by Eli Duke, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Antarctica: Open Water at McMurdo Station.

Team Leaders

  • David Johnston, Nicholas School of the Environment-Marine Science and Conservation
  • Gregory Larsen, Nicholas School of the Environment–Marine Science and Conservation–Ph.D. Student

/graduate Team Members

  • Chelsea Tuohy, Geospatial Analysis, Master of Environmental Management, Coastal Environmental Management
  • Hanna Varga, Civil & Environmental Engg-MS, Civil & Environmental Engg-PHD
  • Zoe Wong, Master of Environmental Management, Coastal Environmental Management
  • Ziya Zhou, Master of Environmental Management, Coastal Environmental Management

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Catherine Brenner, DKU Interdisciplinary Studies (BS)
  • Akash Mullick, Computer Science (BS)
  • Nigel Veach, Mechanical Engineering (BSE)
  • Aimi Wen, Statistical Science (BS)

/zcommunity Team Members

  • Megan Cimino, Institute of Marine Sciences, UC Santa Cruz
  • Ari Friedlaender, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UC Santa Cruz
  • Dulcinea Groff, Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of Wyoming
  • Alex Simms, Department of Earth Science, UC Santa Barbara