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Aerial view of a snowy town with large logo.
Photo Credit: Peter Rejcek
The proposed Antarctic Infrastructure Modernization for Science (AIMS) project would reconfigure McMurdo Station to be more efficient, with fewer buildings laid out in order to efficiently move people and supplies.

New priorities

NSF FY16 budget AIMS to kick-start rebuild of McMurdo and Palmer stations

National Science Foundation (NSF) Director France A. Córdova this month outlined President Obama's fiscal year (FY) 2016 budget request to Congress for NSF. The request calls for $7.7 billion for NSF, an additional $379 million over FY15, which represents a 5.2 percent increase.

Pointing to the budget’s support for new approaches to research on sustainability, global climate, the food-energy-water nexus, cognitive science and neurosciences, and risk and resilience, among other highlights, Córdova noted, “all of these efforts uphold the essential approach that NSF has pursued for nearly 65 years: to invest in fundamental research and education in science and engineering, and by doing so, to address complex challenges facing the nation.”

The FY16 budget includes a request for $449.51 million for the Division of Polar Programs in NSF’s Geosciences Directorate, which represents an overall increase of 3 percent over FY15.

People stand near a pier.
Photo Credit: Zee Evans/Antarctic Photo Library
Repairs are made to the Palmer Station pier.

Polar’s budget request includes funding for science and for the logistics needed to support the science in both the Arctic and Antarctic. Polar research funding would increase by 4.4 percent in the FY16 request.

Among highlights of Polar’s request:

In the Arctic, an increase of $1.63 million in the Arctic Research Support & Logistics budget, to a total of $40.27 million, will enable increased use of marine platforms, such as the newly available research vessel Sikuliaq, for oceanographic research.

In the Antarctic, the budget requests a total of $3 million for the Antarctic Infrastructure Modernization for Science (AIMS) project to continue the Conceptual Design review for, among other things, replacing the Palmer Station pier and redeveloping McMurdo Station to be a more efficient and effective facility for supporting Antarctic science.

This comprehensive redevelopment of McMurdo involves replacement and reconfiguration of core science, operations, and logistics support facilities. AIMS also includes key area infrastructure upgrades for communications, runway and ship support.

AIMS will continue progress on a multi-year commitment toward more efficient and cost-effective science support as recommended by the U.S. Antarctic Program Blue Ribbon Panel report External U.S. government site, “More and Better Science in Antarctica through Increased Logistical Effectiveness.” NSF issued a formal response to this report in March 2013.

Polar will also participate in two new FY16 priorities: Innovations at the Nexus of Food, energy and water systems (INFEWS) and Prediction of and Resilience Against Extreme Events (PREEVENTS). The Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations and Modeling (SOCCOM) project External U.S. government site will be a major Antarctic research effort.

An NSF press release about the FY16 request is here: http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=134032 External U.S. government site

Detailed information on the FY16 budget request is available here: http://www.nsf.gov/about/budget/fy2016/toc.jsp External U.S. government site.

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Curator: Michael Lucibella, Antarctic Support Contract | NSF Official: Peter West, Office of Polar Programs