CU researchers are studying a rare place in Antarctica that supports life—barely. The McMurdo Dry Valleys are almost too dry and too cold for anything to survive. Only tiny organisms and simple ecosystems can get by. Life is so basic that it’s easy to see the results of changing conditions.

In this stark place, scientists may get a clear view into the planet’s future. A warming climate will make it wetter here, so researchers are testing how living things will react to more water. What they learn could provide clues about climate change in places that are more complex and harder to study.