I am writing to you from a small field camp in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, the largest ice free area in Antarctica. I am here to monitor glacial melt streams that only flow for a short time each year.
The streams that we monitor flow from 4-12 weeks during the austral (southern) summer when temperatures hover around freezing (32 deg Fahrenheit) and energy from the sun starts to melt the glaciers.
My job is to monitor the chemical, physical, and biological components of the streams. This involves collecting water samples for chemical analysis; measuring water temperature, conductivity (concentration of salts, or ions, in the water), and discharge (amount of water moving through the stream channels); and sampling the bacteria and algae that grow on the rocks of the stream beds and ponds.