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12 December 2013 1:00 pm ,
Vol. 342 ,
Stefan Behnisch has won awards for designing science labs and other buildings that are smart, sustainable, and...
The iconic 125-year-old Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton near San Jose, California, is facing the threat of closure...
Recent results from the Curiosity Mars rover have helped scientists formulate a plan for the next phase of its mission...
A new, remarkably powerful drug that cripples the hepatitis C virus (HCV) came to market last week, but it sells for $...
In pretoothbrush populations, gumlines would often be marred by a thick, visible crust of calcium phosphate, food...
Evolutionary biologists have long studied how the Mexican tetra, a drab fish that lives in rivers and creeks but has...
Victorian astronomers spent countless hours laboriously charting the positions of stars in the sky. Such sky mapping,...
In an ambitious project to study 1000 years of sickness and health, researchers are excavating the graveyard of the now...
- 12 December 2013 1:00 pm , Vol. 342 , #6164
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A Green Light for Antarctic Fieldwork
17 October 2013 2:30 pm
For Jamie Collins, the end of the U.S. government shutdown means a chance to begin tracking breeding penguins. The oceanography graduate student is one of dozens of scientists at the U.S. Palmer Station in Antarctica who were buoyed by this morning’s announcement from the National Science Foundation (NSF) that it is “restor[ing] the planned 2013-14 austral summer U. S. Antarctic Program (USAP) activities to the maximum extent possible.”
“They told us this morning they are re-starting the season,” Collins writes to ScienceInsider. “So everyone is running around setting up their labs. We're all very excited about the re-opening, but we feel like we've been at the end of a very long yo-yo down here.” (See his blog for more impressions.)
Collins is part of an NSF-funded team conducting a long-running ecological experiment to measure the impact of sea ice fluctuations on polar biota. But he has spent the past week cooped up on the U.S. research icebreaker Laurence M. Gould with crates of lab equipment, as well as the personal possessions needed for a 5-month stay at the station on the western Antarctic Peninsula. An NSF decision last week to put all three U.S stations into “caretaker” status prevented any of the scientists from settling into their expected routines. And Collins had been told as recently as Tuesday that he and about 40 other scientists would be returning on the Gould to Punta Arenas in Chile on Friday.
Instead, Collins will soon be visiting penguin colonies on offshore islands, monitoring their return from the open ocean to mate and produce offspring. But another part of his scheduled activities—a 5-week cruise aboard the Gould this winter to collect oceanographic data—is still in limbo. “No one knows what's happening to the cruises that have been scheduled for January 1 and onwards,” he says. “But at least field work season here is on.”