My project and thousands of others depend on taking samples in Antarctica in the coming weeks to months. However, thanks to the current lack of government funding, research in the Antarctic is being suspended for the season. With a short season mandated by the Antarctica climate, a delay of only a few weeks can result in the loss of an entire years' worth of work!
Please sign the petition below to ask the Senate for an urgent exception for Antarctic research. And please share with everyone you know who cares about science!
You can find more background information below the fold.
The US National Science Foundation (NSF) is recalling staff and scientists from Antarctica due to the ongoing US government shutdown. Nearly all science at the three US bases will grind to a halt.The offiical USAP announcement:
The agency’s decision, posted today, could spell the end of this year’s Antarctic field season at McMurdo, Amundsen-Scott and Palmer stations, depending on the duration of the shutdown, which began on 1 October and shows no signs of ending.
The NSF said it would work to restore the research season “to the maximum extent possible” once funding is restored. The agency said, however, that some activities could not be restarted once the evacuation was complete and the seasonal windows for research and operations had passed.
Lockheed Martin, the contractor that runs the US bases for the NSF, had already been preparing to put the facilities in ‘caretaker status’. The company received its last funding from the NSF on 30 September, according to internal e-mails obtained by Nature. In its statement, the NSF said Lockheed had enough money on hand to ensure operations through 14 October.
A skeleton crew will remain to properly maintain each of the three bases, as is normally the practice during the Antarctic off-season, from March to September. During a normal year, roughly 700 scientists head south each year to study Antarctica’s ice, ecosystems and atmosphere from October to February.
Scientists are frustrated that long-term studies will be interrupted. “If we lose a year of observations, they are gone forever,” says Hugh Ducklow, a biological oceanographer at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is responsible for managing and coordinating the U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP) on behalf of the nation. This includes providing support personnel and facilities and coordinating transportation and other logistics for scientific research. Due to the lapse in appropriation, funds for this support will be depleted on or about October 14, 2013.
Without additional funding, NSF has directed its Antarctic support contractor to begin planning and implementing caretaker status for research stations, ships and other assets. The agency is required to take this step as a result of the absence of appropriation and the Antideficiency Act.
Under caretaker status, the USAP will be staffed at a minimal level to ensure human safety and preserve government property, including the three primary research stations, ships and associated research facilities. All field and research activities not essential to human safety and preservation of property will be suspended.