Far Away in Antarctica, Washington's Impasse Snarls Research and Careers


Paul Basken

Research huts along Lake Fryxell could be among the scientific casualties if the federal government's shutdown forces the abandonment of research in Antarctica for the coming summer season. Scientists worry that if temperatures warm before anyone from the NSF program can move the huts farther back from the lake, the buildings could be flooded and then embedded in ice, causing financial losses and ecological damage.

After two weeks, the federal government's shutdown may have caused more worry than actual damage in the world of higher education. In its third week, however, the harm is becoming very real for hundreds of faculty members and students.

In an early sign of what may await their counterparts as the nation's political impasse slogs on, many scientists associated with the country's Antarctic research program—which relies on active federal support for access to the remote and barren