Published In

Earth System Science Data

Document Type


Publication Date



Antarctica -- Environmental monitoring


Over the last half century, the McMurdo Dry Valleys (MDV) of East Antarctica have become a globally important site for scientific research and environmental monitoring. Historical data can make important contributions to current research activities and environmental management in Antarctica but tend to be widely scattered and difficult to access. We address this need in the MDV by compiling over 5000 historical photographs, sketches, maps, oral interviews, publications, and other archival resources into an online digital archive. The data have been digitized and georeferenced using a standardized metadata structure, which enables intuitive searches and data discovery via an online interface. The ultimate aim of the archive is to create as comprehensive as possible a record of human activity in the MDV to support ongoing research, management, and conservation efforts. This is a valuable tool for scientists seeking to understand the dynamics of change in lakes, glaciers, and other physical systems, as well as humanistic inquiry into the history of the Southern Continent. In addition to providing benchmarks for understanding change over time, the data can help target field sampling for studies working under the assumption of a pristine landscape by enabling researchers to identify the date and extent of past human activities.


© The Author(s) 2020. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike License (http://creativecommons. org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/).



Persistent Identifier