This is a colour photograph showing a scientist walking across the rocky surface of one of the Dry Valleys of Antarctica. In the foreground, patches of moss and lichen can be seen growing around a shallow stream of meltwater.
A scientist is walking across the floor of one of Antarctica's Dry Valleys - areas of the continent that are not covered in snow and ice and have very low humidity. These areas receive almost no snowfall, and water is absent except in summer when there are small streams of meltwater from surrounding ice slopes.
The absence of trees and shrubs is an obvious feature of the Antarctic landscape. Apart from two species of grass restricted to the Antarctic Peninsula, the only plants found on the continent are relatively primitive plants: mosses, liverworts, algae and lichens. Flowering plants are unable to survive the cold, wind and lack of rain.
The rocks and soil of the Dry Valleys contain algae, lichens and fungi, but mosses grow only in the damper soil close to streams of meltwater. Mosses require water to survive. During the winter, when there is darkness 24 hours a day, the mosses dry up and become dormant.
The scientist shown is likely to be a member of a multidisciplinary team of researchers. Such teams consist of scientists with expertise in different fields, and often from different countries, who collaborate in investigating the Antarctic environment.