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Tag: McMurdo Station (Antarctica)
  • Microbial Activity in Dust-Contaminated Antarctic Snow

    Abstract: During weather events, particles can accumulate on the snow near the Pegasus ice and Phoenix compacted-snow Runways at the US McMurdo Station in Antarctica. The deposited particles melt into the surface, initially forming steep-sided holes, which can widen into patches of weak and rotten snow and ice. These changes negatively impact the ice and snow runways and snow roads trafficked by vehicles. To understand the importance of microbes on this process, we examined deposited dust particles and their microbial communities in snow samples collected near the runways. Snow samples were analyzed at the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory where we performed a respiration study to measure the microbial activity during a simulated melt, isolated microorganisms, examined particle-size distribution, and performed 16S rRNA gene sequencing. We measured higher levels of carbon dioxide production from a sample containing more dust than from a sample containing less dust, a finding consistent with viable dust-associated microbial communities. Additionally, eleven microorganisms were isolated and cultured from snow samples containing dust particles. While wind patterns and satellite images suggest that the deposited particles originate from nearby Black Island, comparisons of the particle size and chemical composition were inconclusive.
  • McMurdo Snow Roads and Transportation: Final Program Summary

    Abstract: The snow roads at McMurdo Station, Antarctica, are the primary transportation corridors for moving personnel and material to and from the airfields servicing intra- and intercontinental air traffic. The majority of the road system is made of snow overlying a snow, firn, and icy subsurface and is particularly susceptible to deterioration during the warmest parts of the austral summer when above-freezing temperatures can occur for several days at a time. Poor snow-road conditions can seriously limit payloads for all types of ground vehicles. The US Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) studied the McMurdo snow roads for the National Science Foundation Office of Polar Programs as part of the Snow Roads and Transportation (SRT) program. The goals of the SRT program was to improve construction, maintenance, and use of the McMurdo’s snow roads, with particular attention on minimizing warm-season deterioration. This is the final report of the SRT program, summarizing the program’s activities and findings and emphasizing those parts of the program not previously documented in CRREL Reports, conference papers, or journal articles.
  • Continued Investigation of Thermal and Lidar Surveys of Building Infrastructure

    ABSTRACT: We conducted a combined lidar and thermal infrared survey from both ground-based and Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) platforms at McMurdo Station, Antarctica, in February 2020 to assess the building thermal envelope and infrastructure of the Crary Lab and the wet utility corridor (utilidor). These high-accuracy, coregistered data produced a 3-D model with assigned temperature values for measured surfaces, useful in identifying thermal anomalies and areas for potential improvements and for assessing building and utilidor infrastructure by locating and quantifying areas settlement and structural anomalies. The ground-based survey of the Crary Lab was similar to previous work performed by the team at both Palmer (2015) and South Pole (2017) Stations. The UAS platform focused on approximately 10,500 linear-feet of utilidor throughout McMurdo Station. The datasets of the two survey areas overlapped, allowing us to combine them into a single, georeferenced 3-D model of McMurdo Station. Coincident exterior temperature and atmospheric measurements and Global Navigation Satellite System real-time kinematic surveys provided further insights. Finally, we assessed the thermal envelope of the Crary Lab and the structural features of the utilidor. The resulting dataset is available for analysis and quantification.
  • Hydrocarbon Treatability Study of Antarctica Soil with Fenton’s Reagent

    Abstract: The study objectives were to determine the effectiveness of Fenton’s Reagent and Modified Fenton’s Reagent in reducing Total Petroleum Hydrocarbon (TPH) concentrations in petroleum-contaminated soil from McMurdo Station, Antarctica. Comparisons of the contaminated soils were made, and a treatability study was completed and documented. This material was presented at the Association for Environmental Health and Sciences Foundation (AEHS) 30th Annual International Conference on Soil, Water, Energy, and Air (Virtual) on March 25, 2021.
  • PUBLICATION NOTICE: Concept for Artificial Freezing of Sea Ice at Winter Quarters Bay, Antarctica

    ABSTRACT:  McMurdo Station serves as a major research and logistics hub for the United States Antarctic Program (USAP). Adjacent to the Station is Winter Quarters Bay (WQB), where vessels dock to unload cargo and fuel. The ice pier at McMurdo is essential for this annual vessel resupply but represents a failure potential, occasionally breaking up during or immediately after vessel operations. This study aimed to determine the feasibility of using thermopiles, a passive cooling technology, to artificially freeze seawater to “grow” the existing WQB bottomfast-ice edge so that ships can dock directly against it. Finite element simulations using modeling-parameter assumptions indicate that each row of thermopiles can grow a frozen wall to a depth of 9 m in about a month if installed on 1 July with an initial sea-ice thickness of 1 m and a thermopile spacing of 1.5 m. For our simulation scenarios, we approximate that it would take 255 to 820 days to complete a 40 m by 140 m wedge of bottomfast ice. The estimated cost ranges from about $600,000 to $1,600,000. These results serve as a preliminary feasibility study of successfully using thermopiles for generating a direct docking bottomfast-ice wharf at McMurdo.
  • PUBLICATION NOTICE: Assessment for Soil Reuse Standards at McMurdo Station

    Abstract:  The soils at McMurdo Station in Antarctica contain hydrocarbons derived from accidental fuel spills and industrial development. The current practice for contaminated soils is to remove any material with concentrations greater than 100 mg/kg of total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH) and to transport them to the United States for disposal. Any soils that contain concentrations of TPH less than 100 mg/kg can be reused on-site. While this is the current standard practice, there remains little evidence to verify that 100 mg/kg is an appropriate reuse standard. Moreover, the current practice is based on the guidelines for cleanup values in California (the port of entry where the soils are currently shipped for treatment and disposal), which has few environmental similarities with Antarctica. In the present study, we investigate current regulations for cleanup and soil reuse in U.S. states, Canadian territories, and other countries with cold climates. We also discuss case studies from Arctic and Antarctic regions where soil has been reused after treatment. Additionally, we present a site conceptual model for risk assessment based on known site information and recommend future focus areas for addressing hydrocarbon-contaminated soils at McMurdo Station.
  • PUBLICATION NOTICE: Fenton’s Reagent Treatability Study for Hydrocarbon-Contaminated Soils, McMurdo Station, Antarctica

    ABSTRACT:  Hydrocarbon-contaminated soil is distributed heterogeneously at McMurdo Station, Antarctica, which has served for over 60 years as the logistics hub for the U.S. Antarctic Program. Here we investigated the treatability of McMurdo Station’s contaminated soil with chemical oxidation. Our study collected five soil samples in 2018 and 2019, of which two contained high levels (>100 mg/kg) of total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH) suitable for the treatability study. One soil (ITC) was characterized by 1250 mg/kg of predominantly midrange (n-C8 to n-C16) hydrocarbons, and the other (Soil Pile) was characterized by 3500 mg/kg of predominantly heavy molecular weight (>n-C21) hydrocarbons. We investigated the treatability of these soils with both Fenton’s Reagent (pH < 3 with Fe2+) and modified Fenton’s Reagent (chelated Fe2+), each with hydrogen peroxide concentrations of 3% and 10%. Soil slurries were placed on a shaker table at 100 rpm and 4°C for up to 21 days. TPH concentrations were reduced by approximately 50% for ITC; however, the oxidative treatments did not out-perform controls. All treatments and controls yielded no significant reduction in Soil Pile TPH. Poor performance by these chemical oxidation treatments indicates that remediation of hydrocarbons at these sites may require further soil processing in combination with chemical oxidation or alternative treatment technologies.