, Volume 7, Issue 5, pp 273-287

The cryptoendolithic microbial environment in the Ross Desert of Antarctica: Satellite-transmitted continuous nanoclimate data, 1984 to 1986

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Summary

A satellite mediated station for monitoring nanoclimate (climate in the millimeter range) data, suitable for use in polar regions is described. The station, located in the Ross desert of Antarctica, has been in operation for more than 3 years, measuring rock temperatures, air temperature, light, snow, wind, and moisture. The data indicate that biological activity in the cryptoendolithic microbial ecosystem is limited to the period from mid November to mid February. The total number of hours of biological activity, based on assumptions of the minimum light, temperature and moisture requirements of the community, is less than 1000 h/year. The time above 0°C, representing more nearly optimal conditions, is between 50 and 550 h/year, depending on the orientation of the surface.

Ross desert is an unofficial name for the ice-free region between 160° and 164°E and 76°30′ and 78°30′S. This area is more generally referred to as the “dry valleys”