e360 digest


09 Oct 2013: Antarctic Research Operations
To Be Halted Amid U.S. Government Shutdown

McMurdo Station
John Bortniak/NOAA
McMurdo Station
The National Science Foundation (NSF) says it is curtailing the 2013-2014 Antarctic research season because the U.S. government shutdown has delayed funding for operations there. The U.S. Antarctic Program, which is managed by the NSF, announced yesterday that the three U.S. research stations, ships, and other facilities there will switch to "caretaker status" when funds are exhausted around October 14. All research activities not essential to human safety and preservation of property will be suspended, according to the statement. Because of the remote location and long lead time necessary for planning and travel, the NSF has already started the process of shuttering research facilities. Once funding is restored, some research operations could be restored, the U.S. Antarctic Program said, but cautioned that "some activities cannot be restarted once seasonally dependent windows for research and operations have passed, the seasonal workforce is released, science activities are curtailed and operations are reduced." Around 700 scientists typically travel to the continent between October and February each year to study its climate, ecosystems, and atmosphere, Nature reports. The total annual cost of the U.S. Antarctic research program is just under $400 million, according to the Guardian.


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