The National Research Council (NRC) recently released a report entitled "The United States in Antarctica: Comments from the Polar Research Board." The report was prepared at the request of the National Science Foundation (NSF), who wanted the NRC to review their recommendations for the future of the US Antarctic Program "as one way of learning the reactions of the scientific community to the report and as a way of anticipating problems before beginning to implement the report's recommendations."
The NRC report reaffirmed the "important scientific, geopolitical, and environmental value" of the US Antarctic Program. The report supports three funding strategies proposed by NSF: saving $30 million by using a new, smaller design called the Optimized Station; applying $25 million in FY97 funds allocated for station upgrades to the Optimized Station; and requesting $95 million for construction over the next five years. The NRC disagreed with the recommendation to reallocate $20 million from science grants and science support funding to construction, citing "interruptions of long-term data collections, loss of unique field opportunities, and loss of opportunities for new initiatives."
The NRC report also concluded that the United States alone should fund this construction, and should continue to maintain a year-round presence at facilities in Palmer, McMurdo, and the South Pole. Finally, the report advised that "the goal of NSF during the implementations of the recommendations of the Panel's report should be to sustain the integrity, excellence, and leadership of the US Antarctic Program."
The report was prepared by the NRC Polar Research Board, which is chaired by David Clark from the University of Wisconsin. For information on additional NRC boards and publications, visits the NRC Commission on Geosciences, Environment, and Resources web site. Additional information and order forms are available from the National Academy Press at 800-624-6242 and on the NAP web site.
Contributed by Kasey Shewey, AGI Government Affairs.
Last updated August 1, 1997