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NSF & Congress


Dr. Neal Lane

Dr. Neal Lane
National Science Foundation

Before the House Science Committee
Subcommittee on Basic Research
March 12, 1997

I greatly appreciate the dedication, expertise, and focus of the U.S. Antarctic Program External Panel, chaired by Mr. Norman R. Augustine, in preparing its perceptive and timely review.

The National Science Foundation, which funds and manages America's Antarctic program, established this panel to examine ways to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the program following a 1996 policy review by the President's National Science & Technology Council, which had determined that essential elements of U.S. National and scientific interests are well served by continued involvement in scientific activity in the Antarctic.

NSF supports compelling Antarctic scientific research with a global reach-from studies of the effect of the ozone hole on life to investigations of the influence of the continent's massive ice sheets on sea level. Researchers are exploring the southern ocean, which influences world climate. At the South Pole, cutting-edge astronomy projects are using the site's natural features as an observatory to explore the universe. Across the natural sciences, Antarctica is contributing valuable knowledge about our planet

The panel, consisting of 11 distinguished representatives of the research community, the Federal Government, and the business community, received approximately 70 briefings and conducted 80 one-on-one meetings with individuals involved in virtually all aspects of the Antarctic Program, and it inspected McMurdo and Amundsen-Scott South Pole Stations in Antarctica. Its task was to examine a full range of infrastructure, management, and scientific options for the National presence in the Antarctic.

The panel has endorsed a strong U.S. scientific presence in Antarctica, including the three permanent research stations. After careful investigation, the members have concluded that the 1970s-era research station at the South Pole needs to be replaced and that some of the facilities at McMurdo and Palmer Stations will require modernization.

NSF will examine how to incorporate the panel's twelve major recommendations and other findings into its planning in order to help the agency meet the challenge of maintaining the strength and excellence of the Nation's Antarctic program.

See also: Hearing Summary.