When the U.S. government shut down in October, American researchers in the Antarctic lost an entire critical season in the field — and a year of data collection — because they can’t get there.

Contracts for support personnel were canceled by the shutdown, and it is too late to get the 28 project teams back into Antarctica for the brief summer period, when the weather is warm enough to allow field research.

The researchers now are wondering about the future, with next year’s budget cuts looming.

The National Science Foundation says 28 of the 77 projects scheduled for this winter at McMurdo Station in Antarctica have been canceled. The shutdown forced the agency to send home everyone not essential to preserving safety and property at McMurdo.

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