Federal gov't shutdown aftermath freezes Rockford area's - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Federal gov't shutdown aftermath freezes Rockford area's connection to Antarctica

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NIU professors Reed Scherer & Ross Powell NIU professors Reed Scherer & Ross Powell

The federal government shutdown is over and done, but its impact isn't. A $10 million project, studying climate change in Antarctica over the next few months is now frozen. Some of the researchers involved with the program teach at Northern Illinois University.

Because of Antarctica's climate, there's only about a five-month window to get any research for this project done. It lasts from October to February. After that, it gets too cold. NIU geology professors Ross Powell and Reed Scherer planned to spend this upcoming December through February in Antarctica, finishing what they started there last year.

There's about 40 people involved with this project. Some of them were already in Antarctica this month doing prep work when the government shut down. The National Science Foundation backs this project financially and operationally. During the 16-day shutdown, the NSF suspended all field work. The federal government has re-opened, but this project in Antarctica can't just pick up where it left off. The two NIU professors say it's a very complicated project, requiring transportation of equipment and personnel. They say researchers lost too much time waiting on the government. So, Professor Powell & Professor Scherer's trip has been canceled.

"We've put in years of money and time and planning. To see it come to nothing is pretty devastating." -says Professor Powell.

Professor Scherer adds, "[It's a] tremendous amount of wasted resources and human resources as well as the costs."

The professors say the most devastating part of their project getting canceled is the impact to NIU Graduate students, who planned to go with them and study in Antarctica.

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