Coronavirus Puts Antarctic Science On Ice Until Next Summer

Due to its location and small number, the fairly limited human population in Antarctica (mostly made up of scientists, researchers and engineers) is lucky so far because they haven’t been hit by the coronavirus pandemic yet. However, that doesn’t mean they’re not affected since their remote location means their supplies next summer will be restricted to only the essentials.

Antarctic Science On Ice

Due to their remote location, the small number of people living in Antarctica for science hasn’t been hit by the raging coronavirus pandemic yet. But while they’re safe, their incoming supplies next southern summer isn’t because with a pandemic currently ongoing, what would be sent will be strictly limited to robots and essentials.

This is because while majority of bases in Antarctica are accessible all-year round, the supplies used by the people living there are usually sent when the deep southern summer rolls around. It’s also the time when more scientists are in the area since the summer makes the region more livable. But with the coronavirus pandemic currently ongoing, those trips would have to be put on hold for now, at least until the summer of 20/21.

“We will focus solely on resupplying our stations and changing over teams. As a result, there will be no major construction activities and science projects will be limited to automated data collection. Projects requiring the deployment of dedicated expeditioners or logistics outside of essential activities will be re-evaluated in the future,” Kim Ellis, the director of the Australian Antarctic Division, said in a recent statement.

Furthermore, it’s not just supplies that are affected by the pandemic, but regular operations as well. Per Ellis, conducting them via a winter crew has been challenging because the pandemic made it harder to recruit and train the staff that will be manning the bases for next season. Additionally, costs are also rising alongside supply chains that are being stretched out.

However, while it’s true that the scientists living there will encounter a bit of difficulty next summer, they have reiterated that they plan on cancelling new science come the next summer.

antarctica-3883212_960_720 A station in the Antarctica. Photos by Pixabay (CC0)

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