Challenges for the U.S. Antarctic Program in the Decade of the 90's 921128
The National Science Foundation is responsible for the conduct of the United States National Program in Antarctica under Presidential Memorandum 6646 of February 5, 1982. As such, it supports all U.S. scientific activities in the Antarctic at three major stations (two on the continent, McMurdo and South Pole, and one on the peninsula, Palmer), on two research vessels, and at a number of field camps. Antarctica is a land having no indigenous population. All life support and infrastructure have to be brought in by ship and airplane. South Pole Station depends exclusively on air support, mostly from McMurdo Station which is 800 miles away.
In this paper, some of the challenges facing the United States Antarctic Program in this decade are examined. Of great concern is the conduct of the program in an environmentally sound and responsible manner. In planning a new station for South Pole, for example, alternative energy technologies will be used to reduce dependency on diesel fuel for power and heating, and upgraded communications links will be used to implement telescience, i.e., remote use of scientific instruments, to reduce the number of researchers on site.