Science was first conducted in the Dry Valleys in 1911.The first science conducted in the Dry Valleys was geomorphological studies by Griffith Taylor, Wright and Priestley of Shackleton’s British Antarctic Expedition, in 1911. They spent several weeks in the Taylor Valley. It was not revisited until the International Geophysical Year 1957/58, when a wide range of research and the exploration of the many other dry valleys in the region began. Today science continues to further understand the ecosystem.
All research requires logistical support, and more than twenty camps and other operational structures (e.g. radio repeaters) have been erected over time in the Dry Valleys, of which approximately half have since been decommissioned and removed. Generally access is by helicopter, but overland vehicle trains were used in the Wright Valley in the 1970s, some signs of which still remain. (Such use of surface vehicles is no longer allowed).
Since 1995, tour parties have landed by helicopter near the Canada Glacier snout for a few hours at a time. National programmes also support non-science visitors including arts, media and education personnel.
Image: Dr R Balham and P Webb examine a shallow pool at the head of Victoria Valley © Antarctica NZ Pictorial Collection: TAE 1176