Increased fuel costs will force one of the United States' four year-round Antarctic research stations to close in late January, near the end of the austral summer, until the beginning of the following austral summer. Siple Station, the primary U.S. Antarctic facility for upper-atmosphere research, will assume an intermittent schedule through 1987; the station will be closed for 2 years during this time.
A 114% increase in fuel costs in February prompted the budget tightening, according to Erick Chiang, field projects manager of the National Science Foundation's polar operations section. Closing Siple Station for the 1981 austral winter is only one cut being made by NSF's Antarctic research program. Other costs will be cut by deferring construction projects at McMurdo Station (a year-round facility) to another year, indefinitely postponing repairs to an LC-130 supply aircraft, reducing the number of remote field camp projects during fiscal 1981, and reducing cargo delivery flight hours from more than 4000 to 3200.