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LTER Key Research Findings

Among the many research results from LTER sites, some findings stand out as being particularly important to achieve the LTER goal of providing information to conserve, protect, and manage the nation's ecosystems. Short descriptions of key findings at each site emphasize the importance of long-term data in understanding the pace and pattern of ecological change.

Changes in Ice and Heat (PAL LTER)
Changes in sea ice reflect changes in atmospheric and ocean circulation and properties, while the changing seasonality of sea ice plays a predominant role in controlling much of the polar marine ecosystem. Since the late 1970s satellites have allowed us to track sea ice changes from space. For example, using long term satellite data we can determine the length of the ice season by tracking...
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Delicate Conditions (PAL LTER)
The PAL study region along the western Antarctic Peninsula is one of the most rapidly warming places on the planet (see bullet 2), and the ecosystem is responding to the rapid climate warming. PAL observations of the Antarctic marine foodweb started in 1990, but some changes are just now becoming apparent. Antarctic foodchains are traditionally believed to be short and simple, efficiently...
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New View (PAL LTER)
The observed changes in polar ecosystems require the research community to develop the capacity to resolve changes and understand their global implications. Traditional modes of sampling will not suffice and efforts must be focused on developing networks capable of operating in a harsh environment and maintaining themselves for sustained periods at sea. Realizing this, PAL scientists have...
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Penguins And Climate Change (PAL LTER)
The phrase "canaries in the coal mine" has long been understood to reference an environmental early warning system, alluding to the observation that changes in the behavior or even death of caged canaries could reliably alert working miners to the possible presence of lethal underground gases. Long-term ecological research in the Western Antarctic Peninsula (WAP) has revealed an analogous...
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