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Dale Andersen
Works at Carl Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Universe, SETI Institute
Attended McGill University
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TBT: Aquanaut, submersible pilot, limnologist - Dr. Allyson Brady explores the depths of Pavilion Lake Pavilion Lake Research Project) in the summer of 2009.

#PLRP  #Limnology   #NASA   #Submersible   #Lake  
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Mars' Ancient Ocean

While the notion that the northern hemisphere of Mars once had an ocean is not new, these new measurements certainly bolster that argument and this is good news for those of us that seek to find evidence of life - past or present - beyond our own pale blue dot.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WH8kHncLZwM&feature=youtu.be
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Imagine you are in a coal mine and the canary is dead

 This is such a sad story, one that should awaken everyone to the fact that we humans tend to take way too much for granted on this small planet of ours. Along with the explosive growth of our species, we have had, and continue to have, a major impact upon Earth's biosphere. We take giga-tons of coal, burn it and add it to the atmosphere, the result being global warming, shifting climate patterns, acid rain and ocean acidification; the small family farms of yesteryear are but faint memories, now replaced by industrial scaled farming that not only feeds us, but shoves enormous amounts of sediment, nutrients and pesticides into our waterways....and in the case of the Monarch, has led to massive habitat destruction.

In our daily lives we argue about such things as the Keystone pipeline - people, its a pipe - that is not the big deal - but look where that pipe originates - the Athabasca tar sands - a place where massive strip mining operations are used to scrape out and bake oil from the sediments underlaying ancient forests and their ecosystems - once those old-growth forests are gone they will never return in anything close to our lifetimes or for many, many generations to come. The Keystone pipeline will not lead to the familiar wells we are used to seeing - it will take you to a region littered with large open pits and strip mining....for oil - another one of humanities examples of sheer stupidity and greed - right up there with mountain-top removal for coal.

The next time you are at the beach look out and realize that as beautiful as the ocean appears, its in trouble. Large factory ships are literally strip mining the life from its depths and we have flushed into that seemingly endless sea (its not!!) most everything - a myriad of debris that includes plastics, drugs, nutrient laden sediments, heavy metals, and organic chemicals associated with our daily lives. Large swaths of ocean are so depleted of oxygen that few organisms can survive there.

So, if you have the fortune to see a Monarch butterfly this year stop and reflect a few moments about how hard a journey this one little butterfly has had....and how hard it has been for its entire species and for so many others over just the last few years as a result of our action and inaction.

http://goo.gl/a7Ldv7
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Penguin Talk, Live From Antarctica!

http://dl.allaboutbirds.org/cornelllab-monday-night-seminars

 "To watch the broadcast, just bookmark this page and come back here on Saturday at 11:00 a.m. Eastern".
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A very cool look at the the way things will be in the not too distant future:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Ca6x4QbpoM&feature=youtu.be
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Happy New Year!

We had a great research expedition to Lake Untersee, the field team returned home in late December. Now its time to analyze samples, reduce data and work on publications....and plan for our return!



Photo of Dale Andersen diving in Lake Untersee by Klemens Weisleitner (©2015 All Rights Reserved)
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Exploring Pavilion Lake Above and Below the Ice

Located within the Marble Canyon Provincial Park in the mountains of British Columbia is one of the most interesting lakes in Canada. This is only one of a small number of lakes in the world that hosts modern microbialites - large carbonate structures built by microorganisms - much as they did billions of years on our then young planet. This February, the Pavilion Lake Research Project, along with the Naval Postgraduate School used two small autonomously operated vehicles to map the lake beneath the winter's ice-cover. There were three main goals, all of which were successfully accomplished - gain experience with the operation, control and navigation of these remarkable tools beneath ice, obtain high-resolution bathymetry data of the lake, and prepare for future work in Antarctica (Lake Untersee!) that will take place later this year.

For a better view of the lake and the dive hole for the Remus100 and SeaBotix VLBV 300, the link below will take you to a panorama I have posted at GigaPan that will let you move around and zoom in and out of the scenery at the lake. Be sure to use the tools provided at the GigaPan page that let you immerse yourself in the image - fill your screen and move around!

http://www.gigapan.com/gigapans/169798
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Beneath the ice of Pavilion Lake

Tomorrow morning I head to the mountains of British Columbia to continue work with the Pavilion Lake Research Project at Pavilion Lake. We will be collaborating with colleagues from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA and over the next two weeks we will be conducting surveys beneath the lake ice with their Seabotix ROV and Remus100 AUV. The Remus100 is similar in some ways to the Gavia AUV which Bernard Laval and Alex Forest used to study this remarkable lake in previous years. I will be assisting with the launch and recovery of the vehicle beneath the ice as needed, as I did occasionally with Gavia. In 2007 Donnie Reid captured some of that fun with a shot of me bringing Gavia back over to the recovery hole. This exercise is also a practice run for future work at Lake Untersee in Antarctica - we hope to be doing similar work down south later this year.
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Throw Back Thursday: Lake Hoare, Antarctica, October 1979, the US Navy's Gentle 17 delivers the final sling-load for the day as a navy radio-tech attempts to make coms with McMurdo Station. That afternoon two Holmes & Narver carpenters and I constructed the small hut, a four-section Jamesway that served science for the next thirty-two years. Most of this scene is now underwater as a result of the continuing rise in lake levels at Lake Hoare. The helo made it back to McMurdo just as the weather was beginning to go down with low clouds and wind moving into the area. Fortunately for us, we had a nice, new, warm hut!

United States Antarctic Program
-77.623426°, 162.905048°
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Fountains of Water Vapor and Ice

Deepak Dhingra shares some of the latest research on Enceladus' geysers presented at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting in San Francisco last month (including our work at Lake Untersee in Antarctica).


http://www.planetary.org/blogs/guest-blogs/2015/0122-fountains-of-water-vapor-and-ice.html
Deepak Dhingra shares some of the latest research on Enceladus' geysers presented at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting in San Francisco last month.
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Dr. Sylvia Earle
My good friend and colleague Dr. Sylvia Earle gave the keynote presentation at the SXSW Eco 2014 in Austin, and her presentation is now posted on Youtube. It's a great talk and I hope all of you take a few moments to listen and watch as Sylvia describes her time beneath the sea and how important it is to protect marine ecosystems. 

Sylvia Earle Keynote - Sustainable Seas: The Vision & the Reality - SXSW Eco 2014
#SylviaEarle   #MissionBlue   #Ocean   #Conservation  
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The Pinnacles of Vanda

Its hard to imagine the ecosystems that dominated Earth's earliest biosphere, forming in the seas and oceans of yesteryear some 3 1/2 billion years ago. We tend to think that they were simple, less complex systems - yet there are clues left in sediments, frozen in time that testify to vast communities of single cell organisms that built their own cities of sorts - colonial collections of microorganisms binding and trapping the grains of sands upon which they resided, and precipitating carbonates entombing the signatures of their lives for future generations to discover. We see the magnificent fabrics woven in the rocks but how can we translate those black and white sketches into the grand panoramas and vistas that our eyes are so used to seeing? One way is to visit those places on modern earth where microorganisms flourish without the interference of multicellular life - these environments are not too common but they exist. Our work in the perennially ice-covered lakes of Antarctica may provide a way to glimpse back in time allowing us to visit, explore and gain insight into those early ecosystems. Vast communities of cynaobacterial mats extend from the shallows just beneath the ice to depths where light levels are only 0.1% of the surface light. These microbial mats are able to flourish undisturbed as they did billions of years ago, forming interesting structures and fabrics similarly seen in the ancient fossil record. Indeed, the largest accumulation of biomass in the lake is found in the photosynthetic, benthic microbial mats. Lake Vanda, in Wright Valley, one of the McMurdo Dry Valleys in Antarctica is such place. Here the mats form large, cylindrical pinnacle structures up to ~15 cm tall, surrounded by smaller cupsate pinnacles. The pinnacles seen in the image were growing at a depth of about 15 meters, beneath 3 meters of ice.  How and why these structures are formed by the consortium of microorganisms is still a puzzle - but what fun it is to attempt to discover how these single celled organisms communicate, function and thrive beneath the thick ice overhead. There are still many mysteries remaining and much left to discover!


Please help make the continuation of this research possible!
https://www.teamseti.org/supportdale


The SETI Institute is a nonprofit corporation founded in 1984 (California Corporation #1261957). The Institute is a scientific and educational organization governed by the provisions of Section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code, and the Institute's Federal identification number for reporting and tax purposes is 94-2951356.All contributions to the Institute will be used to further the goals described above and are deductible to the donor for both State and Federal income tax purposes.




#Antarctica   #Astrobiology #Stromatolite #underwaterphotography   #setiinstitute  
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Work
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  • Carl Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Universe, SETI Institute
    Scientist, 1993 - present
    I am a scientist and an explorer and I conduct interesting and unusual research in some of the most extreme and remote places on the planet. I carry out research to understand how microbial life is able to exist in extreme environments on Earth. I use the resulting scientific findings to better understand Earth’s earliest biosphere and to help guide the search for life elsewhere such as on the planet Mars.
  • Lockheed Engineering and Sciences Co.
    Principal Scientist, 1987 - 1993
    Provided programmatic support for NASA's Space Life Sciences Division (mainly Exobiology, CELSS, Biospherics programs), NASA HQ, Washington, D.C.
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Job Description: To Explore the Unknown
Introduction

Dale T. Andersen, Ph.D.

Expertise: Limnology/Astrobiology

Affiliation: Carls Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Universe, SETI Institute 

Fellow Member, 1987 The Explorers Club

Help Support Dale's Research!

https://www.teamseti.org/supportdale

Your support will enable our continued research of one of the most beautiful and fascinating ecosystems on the planet – one we discovered while diving beneath thick Antarctic ice.  Our work is a journey of discovery – one that encompasses adventure, curiosity, imagination, leadership and courage along with a burning desire to advance knowledge. Importantly, we are seeking adequate funding to support our ongoing efforts of scientific research, technical analyses and syntheses of scientific information that will help explain critical emerging issues pertaining to the conservation and preservation of fragile ecosystems in Antarctica. 

Certification/Education:

BS Biology, Va Tech 

Ph.D.,  Physical Geography, McGill University


Job Description: To Explore the Unknown


Dale has been a Principal Investigator at the SETI Institute’s Center for the Study of Life in the Universe since 1993.  During this time, his research has focused on microbial ecosystems in extreme environments including areas of the Arctic, Antarctic, Atacama Desert, Death Valley and Siberia.


Dale’s research interests are with the origin, evolution and distribution of life in the universe and he has been involved with NASA’s Exobiology and Astrobiology programs since the mid 1980’s.  He is interested in locating, characterizing and understanding environments where physical and chemical conditions approach or exceed the tolerances for life. This includes biogeochemical processes occurring in polar lakes, oceans, and springs, or in lithic environments such as sandstones or retrogressive thaw slumps harbouring massive ground ice. Of particular interest are the physical controls and ecological impacts that perennial ice-covers and thick continuous permafrost have on the structure and function of microbial ecosystems.


Dale has participated in field research in polar regions for more than 30 years having participated and led 14 expeditions to the Antarctic (each lasting 4.5-6 months on the continent) and over twenty-six expeditions to the Arctic. Dale helped pioneer scientific research diving in the perennially ice-covered lakes of the McMurdo Dry Valleys and the Bunger Hills and has made more than 600 dives beneath polar ice, north and south.  Dale was the first to use remotely operated vehicle (ROV) technology in the Antarctic to help explore lake and marine environments and as a PI at the SETI Institute he helped develop and utilize telepresence technology to extend the capabilities of the underwater ROV’s. 


Dale’s research has been featured in numerous newspaper and popular journals such as National Geographic and Sky and Telescope as well as on the Discovery Channel Canada, National Geographic TV and in three PBS programs - Life on Ice, Antarctica and MarsLive! From Other worlds and The New Explorers - Crystal Lab.  Dale created and was the driving force behind the production of the award winning documentary Life on Ice, Antarctica and Mars and Live! From Other Worlds, a three part, interactive field trip that allowed students to make virtual dives with Dale under the ice in Antarctica while controlling telepresent rovers from their desktop computers. Dale is a Fellow Member of the Explorers Club (FN87), and an Eagle Scout.

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Education
  • McGill University
    2004
  • McGill University
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COLUMN: Beneath 10 feet of ice
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LAKE PLACID Dale Andersen is one of only five human beings in history who have explored the depth of Lake Untersee, by diving through a hole

Lake Untersee, South Basin #1
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Lake Untersee, Dec 1 2011. Lake Untersee is one of the largest (11.4 km2) and deepest (>160 m) freshwater lakes in East Antarctica. L