Federal Shutdown Compromises Work In Antarctica

The shutdown continues to cost the American public much, it is also costing humans in general much in terms of compromised medical research. And now, it is dealing a chilling blow to climate change research and a deal to establish a marine sanctuary?in Antarctica.

Three climate-research bases have been put on caretaker status by the National Science Foundation due to the shutdown. With the extremes of weather in Antarctica, there is a very short window every year for climate researchers to be able to work. The shutdown isn’t just costing the researchers data, some of which means breaking decades-old chains of uninterrupted data, but there are heavy economic costs for the U.S. and for other countries.


Contractors and support staff have lost jobs. Graduate students are losing data needed to complete research, potentially costing them additional time in school. Millions of dollars invested in important research are being wasted. Research from other countries, that have been collaborating with the U.S. or relying on U.S. data stations, is also being lost.

The loss of this research is heavy, but not as heart-breaking as the cost to the environment if a deal to establish a marine sanctuary in Antarctica can’t go forward.?The U.S. and New Zealand have proposed a 1.34-million-square-kilometer sanctuary and have been negotiating with 24 countries and the European Union. This deal is a compromise with Russia and the Ukraine, who had previously opposed a larger sanctuary proposal due to fishing interests.

The negotiations are unable to continue as the travel for the U.S. delegation has been prevented by the shutdown. Trying to negotiate a deal that suspends economic interests of multiple parties in favor of protecting the environment is difficult under the best of circumstances, but to have negotiations unable to continue because there is no one in the office to buy the delegation a plane ticket, is inane.

The continuing shutdown of the U.S. government has broad effect globally, reaching even aquatic ecosystems in Antarctica. The effects will continue to compound and new ones will emerge every day.

Edited by SS



I have a degree in Biology and enjoy most forms of nerdery and geekery. I'm a mom of three bright boys and work with most of the children's organizations and events in my area. I volunteer with Head Start to teach science enrichment experiences to the preschoolers and tend to proselytize science literacy whenever someone allows me to speak for longer than a few seconds. I love to read, sew, cook, craft, and write, especially when I can figure out how to do more than one of them at a time (no, fellow nerds, I have never managed to read and sew simultaneously but I will keep you posted on the pursuit).