In my limited experience following the Antarctic Program, it seems like there’s a constant: This time of year involves changing plans.
Changes for me lately have been related to a couple different events; the same thing that prompted the early flights to Pole has resulted in our training wrapping up a week earlier than originally planned, and the federal government shutdown looms large. Although the early conclusion to training does give me more vacation time before heading South, it’s not entirely a sweet deal – there are some tradeoffs I’m not going to get into here.
At any rate, I’m heading out of Madison tomorrow after a weekend hanging out with my mom, who flew up to Madison to visit. After my plane lands in Denver, I’ll spend some vacation time there traveling, visiting, and acclimating. Hopefully, this is going to involve a bit of relaxing, maybe some mountain biking, definitely some outside time.
After Colorado, the plan is to catch a series of planes from Denver to the South Pole, and begin work there bright and early November 3. As far as I know, those tickets haven’t been bought yet, not entirely surprising by itself, but it’s less comfortable with the federal shutdown.
My job title is “Assistant Researcher” on an NSF-funded project, and logistics involved in running the entire rest of the US Antarctic Program is also funded through the NSF. The N in NSF means that none of this funding happens while congress is tied up with their current childish behaviour.
If I had to bet, I’d put my money on the federal funding situation getting worked out. Of course, this is a safe bet because if it didn’t get worked out, my money wouldn’t be worth anything! I’m less confident in the timeframe of the resolution, which could cause problems for the Antarctic Program if the shutdown drags on for much longer.
For reference, check out this Nature article.