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

Glacier snow depth measurements, McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica (1993-2020, ongoing)


As part of the Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) project in the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica, a systematic sampling program has been undertaken to monitor glacial mass balance and meltwater flow. This data package includes snow depth measurements to the surface of six glaciers (Canada, Commonwealth, Hughes, Suess, Howard, and Taylor) in Taylor Valley and one glacier (Adams) in Miers Valley, all of which are located in the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica. Most measurements began during the 93-94 field season. Adams measurements were established during the 14-15 field season. Measurements are ongoing except at Hughes and Suess Glaciers where monitoring ceased following the 08-09 field season. Monitoring the changes in these measurements over time provides a record of mass balance, and aids in determining the role of glaciers in the polar hydrologic cycle.

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Data for the original stake height and snow depth measurements, as well as the averages and standard deviations was submitted by Andrew G. Fountain to the data manager in August, 1997. The column showing "file name" identifies the  original file containing that record. These are ascii text files and can be found on the PC in the McMurdo LTER data manager's office at INSTAAR.
 Once submitted to INSTAAR, the data manager used Microsoft Excel and Access software to produce files that were in more of relational mode. Information was assigned to different files according to type of data it dealt with. Separate files were generated for:
                        * stake height replications,
                        * snow depth replications, and
                        * averages/standard deviations calculated from stake height and snow depth replications.
   In March, 2000, Thomas Nylen submitted data from the 1997-98, 1998-99 and 1999-2000 seasons. Instead of lumping all of the stake height and snow depth values for each glacier under one file, they were separated into files for each glacier. Metadata fields were also updated at this time.
 In April, 2000, Denise Steigerwald added fields for dataset code and glstkid. Dataset code would allow the data to be linked to the metadata in a relational database. Glstkid is a code that ties stake records to points on a GIS base map being developed by Michael Prentice at the University of New Hampshire.
In addition, Denise divided the 'stake' field to 'stake' and 'stk replcmnt' values. The 'stake' value is an ID for a stake in a given location over time, while the 'stk replcmnt' value shows whether the stake is the original (A), the first replacement stake installed (B), the second stake installed (C), and so forth. (Melting on the glacier over time makes installation of replacement stakes necessary.) Since the replacement value is only relevant for the stake heights and snow depths datasets, division of the 'stake' value into separate fields made it more straightforward for grouping data across different datasets (eg. stake heights and snow densities).
In 2006, Chris Gardner and Inigo San Gil standardized the metadata in the EML format, redistributing it through the LTER Metadata catalog and other federal clearinghouses.  
In 2014, the metadata was revamped using the Drupal Ecological Information Management System (Inigo San Gil).
In 2016, metadata was enhanced a bit (San Gil).

Additional information: 

 In some circumstances we have the opportunity or need to measure the glaciers in mid-season (Dec).   
 View the dates the measurements were made at the following URL: http://mcmlter.lternet.edu/data/glaciers/timing/stkdates.pdf


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