The Budget Crunch

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

Well, the budget cuts in the Antarctic program have now gone further than just reducing the number of issued pairs of socks from five to two. Today, the National Science Foundation Office of Polar Programs issued a letter detailing the impact of the budget constraints on the 2008/2009 season. Operations will be cut back and a number of projects, science and construction, have been deferred. A number of IPY projects have also been limited in scope for the upcoming season.

The US Antarctic Program is not alone in its struggle. Nature reports on the impact of the increased operating costs on other national Antarctic programs. The German icebreaker Polarstern operates at a cost of $100,000 per day and costs have increased to the point that canceling the entire Arctic program next year is under consideration.