Nature, in the course of editorialising on the vast waste of money that is the US return to the moon plan (although they don’t say that), sez, making the analogy with the return to the South Pole in the IGY:
since humanity’s return to the South Pole, Antarctic science has been central to the great project of understanding the changes that humans are inflicting on the Earth. An Antarctic component to the nascent global carbon dioxide monitoring effort was established in 1957. Since then the contributions have been legion: discovery of the Antarctic ozone hole; the extraction of greenhouse-gas records and climate data reaching back more than half-a-million years from ice cores; the study of the anomalous warming of the Antarctic peninsula; and so on.
Which is a nice set of research results, but not very good if you’re defending science *at the pole*, ie Amundsen-Scott station. CO2 is done as A-S, but could (I presume) be done more easily at McMurdo. Ozone hole was us, of course :-). Deep ice cores aren’t done at the pole (its not a very good site for coring). Peninsula is exciting but, obviously, not done at the pole. Maybe there is a lot of “and so on” science too.
[Update: as several people point out (I thought of this too) its also good for astronomy. But Nature forgot that :-) ]