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Government shutdown may put Antarctic research on ice

Flickr user Alan R. Light

Photo by Flickr user Alan R. Light

U.S. scientists stationed in Antarctica may find their entire summer field season canceled if the government shutdown continues. The researchers only have a small window when the continent is warm enough and has sufficient daylight to complete their studies.

Lockheed Martin, the primary contractor responsible for logistics of the United States Antarctic Program, is due to run out of its Antarctic funding in the next week, which will prompt a decision on whether to pull out all staff except for a bare bones crew left to man the stations.

If the season is canceled, several planned and ongoing projects will have to be put on hold, possibly until the next year.

Travel to and from Antarctic research program sites has ceased since the shutdown went into effect because of reliance on government-funded transportation. The only flights currently operating are bringing supplies to “excepted” employees that are manning McMurdo Station on the icy continent.

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