Giant berg mission thwarted by sea-ice

Posted: March 3, 2018 by oldbrew in News, sea ice, Travel


Not the first time something like this has happened, and probably not the last.

The UK-led expedition to the waters around the world’s biggest iceberg is forced to turn around, reports BBC News.
– – –
Scientists have had to abandon their plan to investigate the waters around the world’s biggest iceberg.

The team, led by the British Antarctic Survey, was thwarted in its attempts to reach the massive block known as A-68 by thick sea-ice in the Weddell Sea.

The iceberg broke away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf on the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula last July. It revealed portions of the sea-floor that had been covered for many thousands of years.

The team, which is on the Royal Research Ship James Clark Ross, had been hoping to sample what were likely to be new species.

These animals would have had to adapt to an environment devoid of light to survive.

“We knew that getting through the sea-ice to reach Larsen C would be difficult,” said expedition leader Dr Katrin Linse.

“Naturally, we are disappointed not to get there but safety must come first.

“The captain and crew have been fantastic and pulled out all the stops to get us to the ice shelf, but our progress became too slow, with just 8km travelled in 24 hours and we still had over 400km to travel. Mother Nature has not been kind to us on our mission.

“But we have a ‘Plan B’; we will head north to areas which have never been sampled for benthic biodiversity.

“The Prince Gustav Channel Ice Shelf and neighbouring Larsen A Ice Shelf collapsed in 1995. We’ll be sampling deeper than we planned at Larsen C – down to 1,000m – so we’re excited about what deep sea creatures we might find.”

The expedition has gone later in the Antarctic season than it would have been ideal, but the urgent proposal to go sample A-68’s waters had to fit with BAS schedules that had long been agreed for this season.

Normally, it takes a few years to put such a venture together.

There should, however, still be an opportunity to visit the berg next year as many on the current expedition will join a German effort run out of the Alfred Wegener Institute.

It will use the Research Vessel Polarstern. In the meantime, the BAS Plan B goes into action. It will see the team collect seafloor animals, microbes, plankton, sediments and water samples in the vicinity of the alternative ice shelves.

Source: Giant berg mission thwarted by sea-ice | BBC News
– – –
Science News: Penguin supercolony discovered in Antarctica

  1. Bitter@twisted says:

    “Ship of fools”, mark 2.

  2. 8km/day means they would have got there in 50 more days. They wimped out! I wonder how much taxpayers money this “Ship of Fools” mark 2 journey cost? Not being an expert, but I would have thought that satellite photos would have shown them all that sea ice long before they got to it..

  3. dennisambler says:

    The report doesn’t actually mention that the”Antarctic season” is the summer.

    “Around the coasts of Antarctica, temperatures are generally close to freezing in the summer (December-February) months, or even slightly positive in the northern part of the Antarctic Peninsula.”

    There shouldn’t have been this much ice at this time of year in this location.

  4. Graeme No.3 says:

    But Phillip Bratby, how can the BBC report the news without an intrepid reporter (or miscellaneous idiot) being filmed while something spectacular happens in the backgound? Even if such spectatacular things have been happening for a few thousand years.

  5. ivan says:

    The more I read about the gross stupidity of the ‘scientists’ of today that have anything to do with the planet and its atmosphere the more I think that those degrees are given out in cornflakes packets.

    Any sane person would have asked the people down there what the weather was like or even looked at satellite photos rather than relying on unvalidated computer models that, so far, haven’t been correct evah.

  6. bill h says:

    Heigh ho, now that the narrative about increasing antarctic sea ice “balancing” the loss of arctic sea ice has become totally untenable in the light of record low antarctic ice levels, I guess we AGW contrarians need to launch diversionary strategies, like mocking the BAS, in our culture war with the warmist libtards

    [reply] so an ‘ice-strengthened ship’ was defeated by record low sea ice?

  7. tom0mason says:

    Too much sea-ice, eh? Just after the SH midsummer. Now that’s interesting.
    Maybe they could ask the penguin for help. 🙂

  8. oldbrew says:

    Penguin super-colony spotted from space
    BBC News
    2 March 2018

    Scientists have stumbled across a huge group of previously unknown Adélie penguins on the most northerly point of the Antarctic Peninsula.
    . . .
    But, as the name implies, the Danger Islands are notoriously difficult to reach.

    Even in the austral summer, the ocean surrounding the archipelago is filled with the kind of thick sea-ice that ships try to avoid.

    But we’re supposed to believe this sea ice is fading away at an ‘alarming rate’?

    The Larsen C survey team seem to have believed so although the leader did say:
    “We knew that getting through the sea-ice to reach Larsen C would be difficult”

    They wouldn’t have put money and resources into it if they thought they had little chance of success.

  9. E.M.Smith says:


    You are thinking like a businessman. They think like academics. Here is the correct academic translation of “They wouldn’t have put money and resources into it if they thought they had little chance of success.”

    They would not have put other peoples money and resources into it if they thought they had little chance of a fun voyage away from work and the office, public grandstanding, follow-on grant harvesting, virtue signalling to fellow travelers, and diverting the expedition to an easier warmer “Plan B” after the media event, while applying for a double-dip grant to ‘try again’ next year.

    IMHO, they’ve gotten everything they wanted in the first place. A grant, time away from actual work back at the office, news coverage, adoration of friends, and an easier actual “research” site. Already talking about joining the Germans for a double-dip. Maybe even a triple dip if they work it right.

  10. oldbrew says:

    The team, led by the British Antarctic Survey

    Suggests they should know a bit about the area 😐
    – – –
    The James Clark Ross is an Antarctic supply and survey ship belonging to the British Antarctic Survey. She is ice strengthened, rather than being an ice breaker and represents a typical compromise solution for the resupply of Antarctic bases and for ship-based scientific work.

    Ice strengthened ships can’t get through thick consolidated sea ice, but that occurs very infrequently in the Antarctic summer itinerary of a supply ship, so for most of the time, simply avoiding the heavy stuff is sufficient.

    So the 2018 Antarctic summer season is not like ‘most of the time’? Either that or they admit there’s serious heavy-duty sea ice around even in summer.

    ‘Mother Nature has not been kind to us’ — but why would she be? It’s the Antarctic!

  11. Polarstern says:

    I look forward to the mission mentioned by the German Research Vessel Polarstern.