ST. PETE - "It's pretty devastating. It's frustrating,” said Amelia Shevenell.
Frustrating in only the way a mom can describe.
"You know it's like when you're 37 and a half weeks pregnant and you know that something is going to happen, but you don't know what and you don't know when and all you can do is be frustrated,” she said.
Shevenell has a 6-year-old but her baby from the months of October to January is a six thousand ton research vessel named the “Nathaniel B. Palmer.”
"These cruises have been planned, one for almost ten years,” she explained.
The USF scientist has been waiting for a decade to slip back into the broken ice sheets of east Antarctica.
"We have a very limited operating window,” said Shevenell.
"Any sort've change in the Antarctic ice sheet can really disrupt climate, weather patterns, etc. all over and in terms of sea level rise, I think that's the most immediate impact for the Tampa Bay area,” she continued.
The USF research cruise, funded by the national science foundation, has been up-ended by the government shutdown. Crews on the ice have been furloughed and USF grad students like Tasha Snow feel their field research slowly slipping away.
"This is kind've a once in a lifetime opportunity that we may be missing out on, will likely be missing out on,” she said. "You lose research that's conducted on a yearly basis. You have a hole and the only thing running is satellites really."
And while satellites are running, the NSF website is not, neither is NASA's or the U.S. Geological Survey's which is bad news for scientists around the country who rely on federal data.
"It would be put off for a year. It could be put off for longer but if we miss this weather window, there's nothing we can do this year,” said Shevenell.
It's like waiting for a birth that likely won't happen-- frustrating when you've been waiting for so long.
"Yeah, that's pretty much how it is except there's probably going to be no happy ending to this story,” said Shevenell.
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