Disturbances often shape ecosystems by periodically reorganizing or destroying them, allowing for significant changes in plant and animal populations and communities.

Lake level surveys in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica (1991-2022, ongoing)


Manual lake level surveys are conducted each season for several lakes across the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica. This data package includes lake levels for Lake Fryxell, Lake Hoare, and Lake Bonney, located in Taylor Valley; Lake Vanda and Don Juan Pond, located in Wright Valley; Lake Vida, located in Victoria Valley; Lake Miers, located in Miers Valley; and Lake House and Lake Joyce, located in Pearse Valley.

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Manual lake level measurements are made with a survey rod, tripod, and autolevel. Generally one measurement is taken in the early austral summer (Oct/Nov), and a second measurement towards the middle/end of the austral summer (Jan/Feb). The MCM LTER has made an attempt to reference all of our observations to the historical (and published) record from the dry valleys. That means that while the values in meters above sea level are correct with respect to the old KIWI data, they will not match differential GPS measurements made without correcting to the KIWI datum. 
During MCM-I, new lake leveling benchmarks were established at the three main Taylor Valley camps for ease of measurement. Each of these new benchmarks was measured using differential GPS to a high degree of accuracy. To put lake levels in the context of the historical data, a similar GPS survey was carried out on old Kiwi benchmarks that have been used for leveling in the past, and an offset applied to the data collected from the new benchmarks.
See the following PDF file for photographs of the Dry Valleys Lake Level benchmarks: MCMLTER Benchmarks 20190829.pdf


20220606: Lake levels were recalculated for the Lake Fryxell measurements made on 2018-11-22 and 2019-11-11, reflecting slight changes from previous numbers following a resurvey of the benchmark in 2021.

2015: Data and metadata was ported into DEIMS by Inigo San Gil.

Quality Assurance: 

20220606: The benchmark for Don Juan Pond was changed in 2016. Hence, the validity of these data are currently in question, and we plan to resurvey associated benchmarks during the 2022-23 austral summer. No lake level measurements were taken at Lake Miers during the 2021-22 austral summer due to time constraints.

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Data contained in these files has been subjected to quality control standards imposed by the investigator. The user of this data should be aware that, while efforts have been taken to ensure that these data are of the highest quality, there is no guarantee of perfection for the data contained herein and the possibility of errors exists. If you encounter questionable data, please contact the MCM LTER data manager corrected or qualified. Thus, these data may be modified and future data will be appended.


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