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Map of Ross Sea region
showing Latitudinal Gradient

base map from
RSRSOER 2001
The Latitudinal Gradient Project (LGP) was a framework within which interdisciplinary and international collaborations could be supported logistically towards the common goals of:

a. Understanding the complex ecosystems that exist along the Victoria Land coast; and
b. Determining the effects of environmental change on these ecosystems.

The development of such a framework was prompted by Antarctic scientists who identified the need for co-ordinated research along the latitudinal gradient.

The Victoria Land coastline spans 14° of latitude along a narrow longitudinal band from 72°S at Cape Adare to 86°S at the southern end of the Ross Ice Shelf.  Important environmental factors such as solar radiation, temperature and sea ice cover predictably vary with latitude along the Victoria Land coast. Other environmental gradients such as depth below sea level, height above sea level and distance from the coast complicate the latitudinal gradient influence on the coastal ecosystems.

The Latitudinal Gradient Project studied five identified sites along the Victoria Land coast in detail.  The information gained from the different sites along the coast have contributed to increasing our understanding of polar ecosystems and helped build predictive knowledge of the future effects of environmental change on these ecosystems.

LGP’s success was dependent on the interdisciplinary aspects of the project and the interaction of researchers at each site, forming a complete picture of the ecosystems studied.
The disciplines represented under the LGP framework were:

· Limnology and oceanography;
· Marine and terrestrial ecology;
· Physiology and genetics;
· Soil science and microbiology;
· Meteorology and climate modelling;
· Glaciology and geomorphology; and
· Sediment- and ice-core paleoclimatology.

More information on the LGP can be found in Publications/Reports.