Ice and Medicine at the end of the earth

5. How much does it cost to support an expedition like yours, or a similar investigation.


That’s a good question, but it’s a little hard to answer. The funding for our project comes from the National Science Foundation. All US Antarctic operations are also funded by the NSF.

Our grant has three main parts.
1. Funding for the scientists
2. Funding for the drillers
3. Support at South Pole Station

The ice core project was proposed by scientists at the University of California, Irvine; University of Washington; University of New Hampshire, and NASA Goddard. The funding is to pay our salaries, the costs of shipping equipment to Antarctica, and for travel and meeting costs.

The funding for the drillers is also a little complicated. This is the first project to use the Intermediate Depth Drill, so in a way the cost of developing the drill is part of our project. The drill was designed by the Ice Drilling and Development Office (IDDO) based at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. IDDO also supports the 7 drillers on our project and handles most of the shipping of the drill and related equipment.

The support at the South Pole Station is a major help to our drilling operation. We require heavy machinery and airplane flights, which South Pole has on site. This eases our setup a lot. And we get fed and have warm beds provided for us.

What does all this cost? I’m not actually sure, but it is a multi-million dollar operation in all. And that doesn’t count the funding scientists will receive to analyze the core.

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