A quick update on public research funding. Dust of the post-government shutdown variety — not the aeolian sort about which chemical oceanographers get excited — continues to settle on science in Antarctica. In a statement released this week by the National Science Foundation, the agency identifies several planned (and already funded) Antarctic research projects which were cancelled altogether as a result of the lapse in funding. The good news for those few of us on this side of the continent: Because Palmer Station is served by a unique logistical operation in Chile, research planned here for later in the season will be largely spared. Several investigators who had planned to conduct field campaigns via the McMurdo logistics hub weren’t so lucky. The USAP had to cancel or defer a number of logistical commitments, including:
- most of the support for NASA’s Long-Duration Balloon facility
- a camp on Mt. Erebus, atop the world’s southernmost active volcano
- a field camp for the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) Divide project
- and an over-ice traverse to support portions of the Whillians Ice Stream Subglacial Access Research Drilling (WISSARD) project
I can only imagine how the hard-working scientists who won grants to conduct these research efforts felt when they got the news. Let us all hope this doesn’t happen again anytime soon.
More from Palmer Station tomorrow.