Improving Antarctic infrastructure



Noting that U.S. activities in Antarctica “are very well managed but suffer from an aging infrastructure, lack of a capital budget, and the effects of operating in an extremely unforgiving environment,” a 23 July report from the U.S. Antarctic Program Blue Ribbon Panel recommends a number of measures to improve the infrastructure, logistics, and other concerns. The panel's recommendations include continued use of the McMurdo, South Pole, and Palmer stations as the primary U.S. science and logistics hubs in Antarctica—because there are no reasonable alternatives, according to the panel—while upgrading or replacing some facilities, restoring the U.S. polar ocean feet, implementing state of-the-art logistics and transportation support, and establishing a long-term facilities capital plan and budget for the U.S. Antarctic Program. “The essence of our findings is that the lack of capital budgeting has placed operations at McMurdo, and to a somewhat lesser extent at Palmer Station, in unnecessary jeopardy—at least in terms of prolonged inefficiency due to deteriorating or otherwise inadequate physical assets,” the panel wrote in the cover letter accompanying the report entitled, More and Better Science in Antarctica Through Increased Logistical Effectiveness. “The Antarctica Blue Ribbon Panel encourages us to take a hard look at how we support Antarctic science and to make the structural changes, however difficult in the current fiscal environment, that will allow us to do more science in the future,” said U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) Director Subra Suresh.