The WISSARD drilling project—which discovered life in Antarctica’s Lake Whillans earlier this year—has been cancelled by the National Science Foundation until the government shutdown ends, putting the second half of the project in jeopardy.
Over 50 scientists, graduate students, and staff members are working on the WISSARD project and $10 million and 10 years of planning have gone into it. This winter, the team plans to drill into the grounding zone of the glacier above Lake Whillans, which would be a first-time accomplishment. A glacier’s grounding zone is at the base and controls how quickly ice flows into the sea.
The shutdown, however, has put a stop to essential shipments and the project cannot be delayed without posing a significantly higher risk to team members. Because funding for the project ends in 2014, scientists working on the project are particularly concerned about completing it on time.
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