WASHINGTON, Oct. 8 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) said Tuesday it will suspend its research programs in Antarctica if the U.S. government shutdown continues for another week.
Funds for the research programs will be depleted on or around October 14, 2013, according to a NSF statement posted online.
"Without additional funding, NSF has directed its Antarctic support contractor to begin planning and implementing caretaker status," said the NSF.
Under caretaker status, the U.S. Antarctic Program will be staffed at the minimum level needed to ensure human safety and preserve government property, including the three primary research stations, ships and associated research facilities, the agency said.
"All field and research activities not essential to human safety and preservation of property will be suspended," it added.
The NSF also warned that some activities cannot be restarted once seasonally dependent windows for researches and operations have passed.
The foundation has informed researchers that it will have to suspend work on several major construction projects if the shutdown continues beyond Oct. 31.
Included on that list are a solar telescope, a gravity wave observatory, and ecological and ocean-observing networks, according to a report in the journal Science's ScienceInsider blog.
The busiest season of the Antarctic research program runs from October to February. For the 2014 fiscal year, which began on Oct. 1, the NSF had requested 465 million U.S. dollars to support its polar programs, including work in Antarctica, the report said.