Monday, October 21, 2013

Antarctic research iced even though U.S. government shutdown ended

October is when news stories about Antarctica tend to begin to pick up with the summer research season beginning.  As usual the number of stories in my Google news alert for Antarctica has increased this month, but most of it is not about the different research projects being undertaken this season.  Instead it has mostly been about the U.S. Antarctic bases being put into caretaker status and the start of the research season put on hold because of the U.S. government shutdown affecting funding for the National Science Foundation.

Now the government shutdown has ended, but since the window for setting up and beginning research is so small in Antarctica research cannot just be continued as usual.  While the Antarctic program is no longer in only caretaker status, the resources are not available in time for all originally planned research to be supported.  This leads to some research teams being told they have to wait until next year, which will affect some data of projects that are in the middle of multi-year research programs.  While it certainly affects the data and the people that arranged their lives to be in Antarctica for the research season, at least some of the U.S. Antarctic programs will get to happen this season.

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