Some Antarctic Research Cancelled During Government Shutdown Will Remain So

Narrow windows for travel


With government cash flowing again, the U.S. Antarctic research program is scrambling to reverse the science shutdown forced into place last week.

On Oct. 8, the National Science Foundation (NSF) ordered the three U.S. Antarctic bases drawn down to winter caretaker status, with minimal staff. The closure reverberated across the planet, hurting thousands of scientists and staffers heading to the frozen continent for the summer research season.

Now, returning NSF employees face a logistical nightmare — rewinding the shutdown and trying to save the Antarctic research season. Because of the mess, it will be several days before scientists learn the status of their stalled projects. But the tight window for Antarctic travel means some research projects can't be saved.