(Photo : Wikimedia Commons)
It appears as though the government shutdown's reach is not just being contained to U.S. shores.
According to recent reports, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has decided to cancel the U.S. Antarctic research program, thanks to the government shutdown in Washington that has affected services across the board for the U.S.
Foundation officials told Fox News that they have instructed scientists and contractors currently stationed at the three U.S. science bases in Antarctica to go home, while a small staff is left behind to maintain the structures and equipment.
According to MSN News, the stations cost just under $400 million annually to be operated and they service roughly 1,200 researchers who visit stations on other ice caps during the spring and summer months. The stations there play host to a wide variety of researchers who study astronomy, climate change, biology and particle physics there.
The announcement was the latest in a litany of projects and operations for the NSF that have been affected by the shutdown, including the postponement of any new funding opportunities for projects, the freezing of its website, and the halting of new grants and/or cooperative agreements.
Members of the scientific community are already lamenting the latest freezes caused by the ongoing shutdown.
"This is absurd, just absurd," Alan Leshner, chief executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the nation's largest science organization, told MSN News. "It's a very big logistical enterprise and this could jeopardize the entire research season for hundreds of important projects."
Ross Powell, a geologist at Northern Illinois University, was also displeased with the news. Powell is the chief scientist for the WISSARD project, which is the first drilling expedition to discover life in a buried Antarctic lake.
Powell's team had been planning an expedition to drill into the spot where the Whillans Ice Stream meets with the sea, as studies have suggested that there is flowing water coming from the buried Lake Whillans coming into the Ross Ice Shelf. Already, the foundation has committed $10 million to the project.
The news of the foundation's shutting down of the Antarctic stations, which are critical for this project, as Ross told Live Science, made "my blood boil."
"If we don't get this field season, basically, we've wasted half the money," Powell said.