Egos on ice

If you have been following the story of the Akademik Shokalskiy, you’ll know it’s a global warming boat stuck in an Antarctic ice pack. What piqued my curiosity was that the expedition is called ‘Australasian’. Now, I don’t mind when Aussies make absolute fools of themselves, but when Kiwis are involved in the foolishness, I get brassed off. More so when the stupidity is funded by my taxes.

Professor Chris Turney

This fiasco can be called the Australasian Antarctic Expedition because the Australian team includes three scientists from NZ’s Landcare Research; a professor of marine geology and a research fellow from the Victoria University of Wellington; and a professor from Waikato University. I commend them for their desire to prove that Godzone is doomed due to a trace atmospheric gas and therefore feel compelled to increase said trace gas by burning thousands of gallons of diesel on a junket to the Southern Land of Ever-Expanding Ice. But I ridicule them for failing to check the en-route ice expansion and consequently getting firmly stuck in it. Couldn’t those PhD students and researchers run some of their sacred climate models to predict this?

The mainstream media has used the Orwellian memory hole to remove the global warming focus of the expedition since it became stuck in the sea ice — which was supposedly melting. So the MSM has not picked up on the myriad ironies in this debacle. They miss an opportunity to illuminate the irony of the intrepid saviours of the planet having to be rescued by China, which is the largest emitter of CO2 on the planet. A well-directed opinion piece in The Australian made pointed criticisms of these numbskulls.

Egg on face

Will Chris Turney face facts and admit that Antarctica has been cooling since satellite records began? Or that ice extent down there is at an all-time, record-breaking high? I doubt that the enormous ego of the man would allow it. After all, according to his website, he is “Professor of Climate Change at the University of University [sic] of New South Wales.” Being a professor of a University of a University is pretty damn big.

The expedition website states: “The Australasian Antarctic Expedition – the AAE – will truly meld science and adventure, repeating century old measurements to discover and communicate the changes taking place in this remote and pristine environment.”

Well, now that the expedition is over, with the 52 junketees heading home on a slow boat (not to China), I hope this slap in the face by the natural world will knock some sense into these leaders of our universities and CRIs. As they chug along in their rescue ship staring at the endless expanse of mid-summer sea ice, I hope they will start to be sceptical of the hype about tipping points and ask some scientific questions. They might start by questioning CO2 sensitivity. Then feedbacks. Then models (hey, where there’s life, there’s hope!).

Other questions they must answer include: who pays the rescue costs; who was responsible for the shore party’s tardy return to the ship, delaying it until it could not leave; why has the sea ice extended much further than 100 years ago when Mawson’s expedition sailed the same route; who cleans up if the ship sinks; will Turney ever get backing for another touristy-sciency cruise?

The survivors will have plenty of time to contemplate these questions – they don’t get back to Hobart until mid-January. Meanwhile, let us hope that the 22 crew remaining aboard the stuck ship find their way to the open sea before too long.

P.S. It seems the saga is not over yet, with the Chinese ship which provided the helicopter to get the passengers to the Aurora now hampered by thick ice. The Aurora has been asked by the rescue coordinator to hold its position in open water in case the Snow Dragon needs help – reported by TVNZ.

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122 Thoughts on “Egos on ice

  1. Andy on 04/01/2014 at 9:29 pm said:

    From Chris Turney’s website

    Antarctic expedition to walk in Mawson’s footsteps
    Updated Sat 8 Jun 2013, 12:20pm AEST

    Over 40 researchers and members of the public will retrace the steps of Antarctic adventurer Sir Douglas Mawson as part of the New Australasian Antarctic Expedition. The group will collect data to compare with Mawson’s research conducted over 100 years ago

    “Sorry, this video has expired”.


  2. Richard C (NZ) on 04/01/2014 at 10:59 pm said:

    Comment from: Minister for Whatever [@ Jennifer Marohasy’s]

    This was posted over at Jonova and is very evocative and from a man with prior experiences in the area

    “This is precisely the issue, Robber. What did Turney imagine he could achieve in a month when the AAD spends millions a year over the past 50 years researching – with real scientists – precisely these questions? And as a polar historian (I edited Captain John King Davis’s Antarctic journals – he was skipper on all Mawson’s expeditions) I am particularly infuriated by the pseudo ‘Spirit of Mawson’ tag; implying that Turney in 3 days could replicate (?) scientific observations of Mawson’s expedition of nearly three years.

    As a former ANARE station leader, and also staff member on numerous tourist voyages on ships like Shokalskiy, I have been to almost all of the Antarctic coast as well as inland.

    And I am even more infuriated by the suggestion that the Russian owners of the ship should pay for the rescue, implying that the Captain was at fault; when it’s clear it was the scientists’ incompetence and ignorance, under Turney’s leadership, that caused the delayed departure that had such cascading – and continuing – consequences.

    When, in all his relentlessly positive posts on ‘Intrepid Science’ (LOL), is he going to show any glimmer of acknowledgement of his responsibility for this fiasco?”

    Yes indeed, when is he going to behave more responsibly and less like an over excited prat.

    # # #

    I note that BOTH the Australian and Chinese Antarctic research programs have been delayed by the rescues – Snow Dragon now stuck and Aurora Australis been told to stand by rather than proceed to Casy Station.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 04/01/2014 at 11:03 pm said:

      I’ve added the following at Jennifer Marohasy’s and in the ‘Polar regions, glaciers and icer’ thread here at CCG:

      DataSciNz article linked at JN:

      ‘Using data science to better manage risk (and avoid getting stuck in the ice)’

      “I introduce what I believe is an exciting new descriptive acronym: Something Else Goes Wrong And Yet more Delay (SEGWAYD). “!/2014/01/using-data-science-to-better-manage.html

      Quoting the article:

      An interesting thing about judgement is that it is true or false, black or white. Risk management is about probabilities.

      Nate Silver coached us on how to construct Bayesian probability estimates……..[…]

      That’s right, our initial 1% risk of needed a rescue has been elevated to 13% when we know it is the worst ice year in 20 and make the other assumption we did. This appears to get worse at every decision point following new information the AAE encountered, based mentioned above based on the probabilities used to populate the table below.

      Table 1. Bayesian Probabilities following Nate Silver’s format, estimating the posterior likelihood of AEE requiring rescue. The prior probability, x, is estimated initially, and then estimated using the posterior probability from each step. All estimates for x, y, and z are very rough and readers are encouraged to calculate results from their own estimates.

      Step x y z posterior New Event Considered
      1 1% 75% 5% 13% Exceptional sea ice year – 1 in 20
      2 13% 75% 10% 53% Destination only reached via narrow polynia
      3 53% 95% 25% 81% An onshore storm is coming
      4 81% 80% 50% 87% SEGWAYD

      Wow, so that’s remarkable. There were 4 steps where the AAE probably should have reassessed the probability they would require a rescue?

      # # #

      Near-record high 2013 Antarctic SIE in the satellite era is interpreted by DataSciNZ as:

      “Exceptional sea ice year – 1 in 20″.

      Well yes, well above normal much like exceptional years 2010, 2009, 2008, 2003 – but moreso:

    • Richard C (NZ) on 04/01/2014 at 11:30 pm said:

      Aphan (WUWT), Niggurath (JoNova), analyses of Hodgeman islets trip delay (precursor to entrapment) with recourse to Spiritofmawson blog and the blog of the Australian green politician on-board, Janet Rice, starting here:

      Needless to say, Spiritofmawson and Janet Rice postings have been carefully archived, Aphan:

      “Just got back from screen capping and copying URLs (instead of just cutting and pasting out key points) from We just never know these days when website pages will disappear. Right?”


      “I’ve saved the Rice log entry as a PDF here: Rice-log-Monday-23-December-2013 [hotlink]”

      At least those wont become Memory Hole victims.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 05/01/2014 at 1:00 am said:

      >“Exceptional sea ice year″

      Not forgetting, at the start of it all, AAE’s “ICE-STRANDED EXPLORERS’ MESSAGE”:

      “Sea ice is disappearing due to climate change, but here ice is building up”

      So much for the message:

      FT: Antarctic Debacle Probably Biggest Setback For Campaigners Since Climategate

      * Christopher Caldwell, Financial Times

    • Richard C (NZ) on 05/01/2014 at 1:28 am said:

      >”I note that BOTH the Australian and Chinese Antarctic research programs have been delayed by the rescues – Snow Dragon now stuck and Aurora Australis been told to stand by rather than proceed to Casy Station.”

      And French (see below).

      UPDATE – Agence France Presse Jan 4, 2014, 1:44 PM

      “AMSA said Saturday the Aurora Australis was now free to continue its journey to Australia’s Antarctic base Casey, where it is due to deliver supplies before heading to the Australian city of Hobart.”

      But (from same businessinsider link),

      Yves Frenot, director of the French Polar Institute, said he had no issue with rescuing those aboard the stricken vessel but said this had drained resources from the French, Chinese and Australian scientific missions in Antarctica.

      The rescue mission forced French scientists to scrap a two-week oceanographic campaign this month using the Astrolabe.

      “But we are relatively lucky,” he said.

      “The Chinese have had to cancel all their scientific programme, and my counterpart in Australia is spitting tacks with anger, because their entire summer has been wiped out.”

      And (from The Hindu link below):

      “The Aurora had offloaded only 70 per cent of its cargo at Casey last month before it was diverted to the rescue. It will now deliver the remaining 30 per cent, which includes scientific equipment vital to research projects scheduled to be carried out during the narrow window of the Antarctic summer. Australian Antarctic Division acting director Jason Mundy said the rescue had stretched resources for the summer research program, which he hoped to recoup from the Russian ship’s insurer.”

  3. Richard C (NZ) on 04/01/2014 at 11:54 pm said:

    Remember Gergis et al? Lasted 3 weeks.

    Funding of which (not necessarily co-authors):

    The University of Melbourne
    LP0990151 Dr JL Gergis; Prof DJ Karoly; Prof N Nicholls; A/Prof DS Garden; Prof CS Turney; Dr AM Lorrey; Dr K Braganza; Dr RJ Allan; Miss G Skelly; Ms RJ Moran; Dr K Tan; Mr RA Neville; Dr NR Lomb

    Approved Project Title Reconstructing pre-20th century rainfall, temperature and pressure for south-eastern Australia using palaeoclimate, documentary and early weather station data.

    2009 : $ 65,000
    2010 : $ 117,500
    2011 : $ 105,000
    2012 : $ 52,500

    More science funding down the gurgler, aided in part by one Prof CS Turney no less.

  4. Richard C (NZ) on 05/01/2014 at 12:05 am said:

    “Adventure is just bad planning” – Roald Amundsen

  5. Richard C (NZ) on 05/01/2014 at 9:19 am said:

    Rodney Hide: Heat gone out of climate claims

    “The nuttiness is readily apparent. The expedition issued a statement that, “Sea ice is disappearing due to climate change, but here ice is building up.” Bad luck, really. The climate scientists were in the one bit of Antarctica where there’s ice.”

    “But there’s a bright side: the expedition was planting 800 kauri trees in Northland to cover their carbon footprint. By my calculations, with the ice-breakers and helicopters, that number could now be into the thousands.”

    • Andy on 05/01/2014 at 9:51 am said:

      Richard North observes, ice in Antarctica is just weather, but less ice in the Arctic is climate change

    • Richard C (NZ) on 05/01/2014 at 11:00 am said:

      Correcting The Guardian (RN’s screen cap) – “Rapid build up of [multi-year] ice”.

      Turney – “armadas of ice that started to appear were thick and old” i.e.small scale, short term, climate change, further along the coast.

      Weather moved it, sure, but it had to come from where it built up in the first place.

      RN doesn’t pull any punches.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 05/01/2014 at 9:51 am said:

      Mixed, and surprisingly uncensored comments. JRanderson’s been busy.

  6. Richard C (NZ) on 05/01/2014 at 9:38 am said:

    ‘Aurora Australis Warned Of Thick Ice In October’

    Back in October, ABC reported on the first voyage of the season of the Aurora Australis,

    “Microwave data we got last week shows the ice concentration this year is as high as it’s been since we started taking readings back in the late 70s.” – Voyage leader Tony Foy

    Tuesday, October 23rd 2012 – 20:51 UTC

    ‘Australian icebreaker ‘Aurora Australis’ caught in packed Antarctic ice’

    The Australian icebreaker Aurora Australis is stuck in ice 80 nautical miles from the Antarctic coast. The vessel is heading to the frozen continent with 50 scientists from around the world to study the relationship between sea ice and marine life.

    “At the moment they’re in some quite heavy ice which is pretty normal in those kinds of conditions,” said the Australian Antarctic Division’s Operations manager Robb Clifton.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 05/01/2014 at 10:22 am said:

      Turney in The Guardian, from Andy’s link:

      “Getting stuck is not unusual for ships here. The vessel we are on now, the Aurora Australis, was stuck for four weeks earlier in the season.”


      “There was nothing to suggest this event [mass breakout of thick, multiyear sea ice on the other side of the Mertz Glacier] was imminent. We have had regular updates on the state of the sea ice in the area and had been monitoring the region for the last year”


      “The forecasts [consistent conditions] were correct, but it was soon clear that the armadas of ice that started to appear were thick and old”

      # # #

      Captain Igor knew conditions had changed from the forecast and wanted to get out of the Hodgeman islets trip – pronto. The trippers didn’t share the urgency.

      Blog of the Australian green politician on-board, Janet Rice:

      “The third drama of the day is the one which is still unfolding. Because of the Argo mishap we got off late, and had one less vehicle to ferry people to and fro. I’m told the Captain was becoming rather definite late in the afternoon that we needed to get everyone back on board ASAP because of the coming weather and the ice closing in. As I write we are continuing to make extremely slow progress through what looks like a winter alpine snow field – it’s yet another surreal part of this journey that we are in a ship trying to barge our way through here!”

      “I’m sure the Captain would have been much happier if we had got away a few hours earlier.”

      Turney omits the Captains concern (“rather definite”, “ASAP”) from his Guardian account.

    • Andy on 05/01/2014 at 11:07 am said:

      The captain was screaming ” it’s worse than we thought” and no one listened.

    • Mike Jowsey on 05/01/2014 at 1:35 pm said:

      Clay Marley says:
      January 4, 2014 at 12:46 pm

      The Mertz Glacier tongue, now called iceberg C28 drifted away from the coast and broke up. Then B09B continued around the coast and has been in the Commonwealth Bay area for years, resulting in heavy ice. This was well known to the expedition before they left. The effects of this ice movement and resulting changes in the polynyas have been studied for years.

      It’s more interesting what Turney and co don’t say than do. Whilst I think that some good research may have been accomplished on the trip, it was organised much more as a jaunt than an expedition. Turney will continue to focus attention on the expeditionary aspects and the research, without ever acknowledging the inherent flaws in the structure of the trip – namely having a bunch of journos, a politician and assorted eco-hangers-on all there to have a bit of a party (sans milkshakes). When the going got tough they didn’t get going.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 05/01/2014 at 7:06 pm said:

      >”Then B09B continued around the coast….”

      I think it was C28 split in two (see before and after images in article below) that continued around the coast, B09B remaining grounded – could be wrong,

      I’m inclined to think C28 and B09B are red herrings i.e. ALL that “old” ice (3m – 10m+ thick) cannot all just be from that tongue and that berg surely. I could be wrong of course but it doesn’t wash with me given the sea ice ‘factories’ described in the article linked below.

      Anyway, see the image at the link below “New iceberg, C28 (left), seen on 20 February 2010 following the collision of iceberg B09B (right) with the Mertz Glacier tongue.” and the two before and after images:

      ‘Mertz Glacier tongue unhinged by giant iceberg’

      In mid-February 2010 a massive iceberg designated B09B collided with the Mertz Glacier tongue – a section of the glacier that protruded about 100 km from the Antarctic coastline at about 145ºE. The collision precipitated the calving of another massive iceberg, C28, from the tongue, measuring 78 km long and between 33 and 39 km wide. This calving event removed about 80% of the tongue, leaving only a 20 km-long stub. The calving had been anticipated, as rifts cutting across the tongue had been developing over many years, but the timing and collision was not.


      B09B originally calved from the Ross Ice Shelf in 1987 and drifted round to the east of Mertz Glacier by 1992. It was grounded for many years and started moving in late 2009.

      The region about the Mertz Glacier plays an important role in the global ocean over-turning circulation. Polynyas in the region (areas of open-water or low sea ice concentration) produce about 25% of the Antarctic Bottom Water, which drives the deep over-turning circulation of the global ocean, carrying oxygen and nutrients to the ocean depths in all ocean basins. The effect of strong off-shore winds and heat loss from the ocean, make polynyas very efficient sea ice ‘factories’. The salt rejected during the freezing of new sea ice creates the cold, dense water which sinks to the ocean bottom and ultimately forms Antarctic Bottom Water.

      The calving of the glacier tongue and the shift of icebergs has changed the geography of the main polynya that was adjacent to the glacier. As C28 drifted west, it initially caused the Mertz polynya to be divided into several smaller areas, which disturbed the ice factory role. At the beginning of April, C28 collided with a submerged peak and split into several massive sections. By the end of April the sections had drifted across the edge of the continental shelf into deep water, about 250–300 km west of the glacier and well clear of the polynya.

      Iceberg B09B remains grounded about 50 km north-east of the remaining Mertz Glacier tongue. The behaviour of the Mertz polynya appears to have returned to its previous active ice factory role, after a temporary reduction in sea ice production when C28 was in the area of the polynya.

      More (but not much) at the link.

    • Mike Jowsey on 05/01/2014 at 8:04 pm said:

      very interesting… thanks RC. However, this does nothing to suggest to me that conditions facing the AAE were unusual with respect to pack ice. Even Mawson had issues with pack ice on his trip, so how can Turney claim surprise, or that the BooB Berg messed it all up for him? His molly-coddled eco-tourist homesick cruise passengers stuffed about when they needed to heed the captain shouting from the bridge “It’s worse than we thought!” (h/t Andy). Having to babysit such ecoloons on a serious science foray is a recipe for disaster – one which is still unfolding, sans ecoloons. Turney got some ‘splaining to do.

    • “carrying oxygen and nutrients to the ocean depths in all ocean basins.”

      I’m really surprised to hear this from four oceanographers. Oxygen, yes. But nutrients come from phytoplankton living at the surface. When they die they sink in a soft, never-ending rain, concentrating in the bottom water and enriching it. Nutrients are most plentiful in the deep but they’re not taken there by the overturning circulation. Wherever the bottom water rises to the surface, sea life abounds.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 05/01/2014 at 8:51 pm said:

      >”B09B remaining grounded – could be wrong,”

      Yes I’m wrong, C28 broke up after splitting in two, B09B ended up in Commonwealth bay complete:

      “In general, sea ice conditions for the 2012/2013 season were characterised by a late retreat of the outer pack ice in East Antarctica, after above-average sea ice area and extent generally, in Antarctica during winter. This season’s first voyage of RSV Aurora Australis (VMS) was heavily affected by difficult sea ice conditions.

      However, all Australian Antarctic bases could be reached relatively easily throughout the rest of the shipping season. But Mawson’s Huts in Commonwealth Bay were inaccessible due to the presence of iceberg B09B.”


      SEA ICE REPORTS – 2012/2013 SEASON

      Prepared by: Dr Jan L Lieser, Dr Robert A Massom, Dr Petra Heil , Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre, April 2013

      Page 22 (p.24 pdf):

      Sea Ice Report #02a/2013
      by the AAD/ACE CRC Sea Ice Group

      This report provides an update on the Dumont d’Urville Station/Mertz Glacier

      • Commonwealth Bay
      Commonwealth Bay is still sheltered and blocked by iceberg B09B
      (see Figure 1; note: most of the scene is slightly obscured by thin
      clouds). Even though B09B has swivelled only very slightly in a
      clockwise rotation a few days ago, it seems to be still of major
      influence over the overall sea ice conditions in the region. The bay is
      solidly filled with fast ice, with an additional fast ice tongue
      immediately north of the iceberg B09B, stretching in north-south
      direction. Further to the west toward Dumont d’Urville Station are two
      persistent fast ice tongues protruding north from the continent. North
      of Dumont d’Urville Station is a polynya that is separated from the
      open ocean by a consolidated band of sea ice, extending about
      45 nautical miles in north-south direction. Currently, this band of sea
      ice shows a quite defined northern edge at about 65° 22′ S (see blue
      line in Figure 1). This edge is not so defined to the east of 142° E, as
      indicated by the dashed blue line in Figure 1.

      There is a lot of sea ice piled up behind iceberg B09B and the fast
      ice surrounding it, between about 143° 20′ E and 145° 30′ E. The face
      of Mertz Glacier is mostly covered by sea ice, even though a very
      small polynya is visible at places (for example at about 67° 12′ S and
      144° 44′ E). There are a few smaller bergs scattered throughout the
      polynya to the northwest of Mertz Glacier, and C15 appears grounded
      at its current position.

      But the bergs are a red herring. It isn’t berg ice that’s got the Shokalskiy, it’s stuck between “fast ice” and “sea ice/pack ice” (see SMH article below). 2012/13 report above: “The bay is solidly filled with fast ice, with an additional fast ice tongue”.

      ‘Fast ice’
      From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

      “Fast ice (also called land-fast ice, landfast ice, and shore-fast ice) is sea ice that is “fastened” to the coastline, to the sea floor along shoals or to grounded icebergs.[1][2][3] Fast ice may either grow in place from the sea water or by freezing pieces of drifting ice to the shore or other anchor sites.[4][1] Unlike drift (or pack) ice, fast ice does not move with currents and winds.”


      “Fast ice can survive one or more melting seasons (i.e. summer), in which case it can be designated following the usual age-based categories: first-year, second-year, multiyear. The fast ice boundary is the limit between fast ice and drift (or pack) ice — in places, this boundary may coincide with a shear ridge.[4][1] Fast ice may be delimited or enclose pressure ridges which extend sufficiently downward so as to be grounded.”

      ‘Passengers from ship trapped in ice safe on Aurora Australis’

      Nicky Phillips, SMH, January 4, 2014

      “It was an iceberg that also threatened to crush the Akademik Shokalskiy the day after it become snared between fast ice attached to the Antarctic coastline and thick sea ice.”

      Read more:

      OK, so it was/is “snared between fast ice……and thick sea ice”, but the iceberg threat was/is remote and not B09B:

      ‘Antarctic passengers ponder logistics of air rescue as second icebreaker closes in’

      Alok Jha, The Guardian, Sunday 29 December

      Mortimer [Geg, co-leader of the AAE] said that, contingency plans aside, the ship was in a safe condition and there was no threat to life or limb. “The pressure at this point in time is one of time – that artificial contrivance of, well, we must get out of this situation as quickly as we can,” he said. “But we don’t have to, we’re OK.”

      That would change, he added, if an iceberg started moving towards the ship – although the closest are several nautical miles away at present and there is no danger. If any of them did get close, the ship would have a day or two’s notice to carry out any necessary evacuation.

      # # #

      Any icebergs were “several nautical miles away” at the time of entrapment.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 05/01/2014 at 9:15 pm said:

      >”…how can Turney claim surprise [at encroaching sea ice/pack ice]”

      He can’t. The threat was ever-present. Captain Igor knew that, The Captain saw that conditions were deteriorating contrary to forecast, The Captain wanted the day trippers back on board “ASAP”. The day trippers didn’t heed the urgency – please explain.

      From my previous comment re “fast ice” vs “sea ice/pack ice”, it looks like the Shokalskiy was pulled up against the “fast ice” to allow the day trippers to disembark but didn’t even get away from the berth before the “sea ice/pack ice” surrounded them. How can the captain be at fault in that case?

      >”….or that the BooB Berg messed it all up for him?”

      Again, he can’t. From my last comment linking to the Guardian article, it is clear that there were NO icebergs (let alone BooB) within “several nautical miles” at the time of entrapment.

    • Mike Jowsey on 05/01/2014 at 9:56 pm said:

      I concur. Bated breath…..invest in popcorn futures.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 05/01/2014 at 10:19 pm said:

      Just to be clear, the day trippers went to Hodgeman islets just before entrapment – not to Mawson’s Huts which they had already been to. They had to cross water (Argo boats) to get there, as i understand now (see Janet Rice account of the Hodgeman islets trip next comment).

      In my previous comment I didn’t think the Shokalskiy even got away from what I thought was their “fast ice” berth. Turney says they got away however but not from a berth. It looks like they weren’t against any “fast ice” but hoved to out in open water given the use of Argo boats (see Rice account). Here’s Turney’s account of what happened:

      ‘The AAE has met heavy ice’

      Posted by Chris Turney, December 26, 2013

      Following our successful visit to Cape Denison, sea ice remained clear, allowing our science expedition to proceed to the Mertz Glacier and open water polynya on the other side of Commonwealth Bay. Good conditions allowed the team to reach the Hodgeman Islets to continue our science programme and make comparisons to our findings around Mawson’s Hut. We managed to collect a range of samples for three of the science teams on these rarely visited islands; a fantastic result. The distance from the land to the sea ice edge is only 5 kilometres, providing an excellent test of the impact of the large sea ice extent around Cape Denison. Supported by volunteers on board, our teams investigated marine mammals, ornithology, glaciology while oceanographic work continued on board. Kerry-Jayne Wilson of the Blue Penguin Trust found the penguin colony on the Hodgeman Islets is thriving, demonstrating the distance the Mawson Hut Adelie penguins have to travel is a major factor in the fall of numbers. Tracey Rogers of UNSW also obtained the largest number of seal blubber samples on the expedition while Eleanor Rainsley collected geological samples that will provide an invaluable insight into the history of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet. Returning to the Shokalskiy, conditions started to close in and we quickly loaded the vehicles on to the vessel.

      Unfortunately proceeding north we found our path blocked by ice pushed in by an increasingly strong southeasterly wind. On Christmas Eve we realised we could not get through, in spite of being just 2 nautical miles from open water. We hoped the conditions would change but . We just wanted to let all our family and friends know there is no risk to the vessel and everyone is well. Yesterday the team celebrated Christmas and morale is high. We have called for assistance due to the anticipated continuing southeasterly winds (with forecasts kindly provided by the Australian Antarctic Division at Casey Station and Meteoexploration).

      More >>>>>>>

      So, Turney says “…we have experienced several low pressure systems over the last few days which have held the ice fast” i.e. the “fast ice” in the vicinity was not pre-existing but formed over “the last few days”

      That should have been a red flag to both Captain Igor and AAE.

      And they must have made about 2.5 NM from Hodgeman islets before entrapment given the edge of the sea ice was 5 NM from land, they got to 2 NM from open water and assuming the Shokalskiy hove to 1/2 NM from land to start with.

    • Mike Jowsey on 05/01/2014 at 10:45 pm said:

      “several low pressure systems over the last few days”
      I think he means Antarctic storms. Several. That should be a red flag to a captain or an eco-jaunt organiser.

      Buy popcorn folks. I have invested in a popcorn factory, so that is why I exhort you so. Just like Turney, who has invested in a carbon sequestering company. Oh, did he neglect to mention?

    • Richard C (NZ) on 05/01/2014 at 11:27 pm said:

      Janet Rice account of the Hodgeman Islets trip, forecast, conditions during trip, and subsequent push to open water (abbreviated, annotated):

      Monday 23 December. Day 16,

      [Push to open water]

      The ship is making very slow progress through pack ice. There is a narrow channel that we are inching our way along – it of course is pretty frozen in itself. There are icebergs on either side of us, some kilometres away – hard to tell exactly how far. We oscillate between hardly moving to suddenly being jolted sideways with a crunch as the ship bashes and barges its way through.

      [Blizzard arriving]

      It’s blowing a gale, snowing slightly, visibility not brilliant, rather gloomy and grubby. I’ve got the porthole window open a whisker and the wind is whistling through it. Most of the day the temperature was minus 2 or less; it’s probably not that much colder than that now, but the windchill will make it somewhere equivalent to minus 15.

      [At Hodgeman Islets. Good conditions. Blizzard forecast before they left ship – red flag]

      We were out in similar conditions this afternoon. Somewhat brighter – in fact there was blue sky and sunshine for some periods. The weather has been better than the forecast blizzard, so that was good.

      [From ship to Hodgeman Islets, Was “firm” surface “fast ice”? Argo delay, time ticks by, blizzard coming – red flag]

      We had another fabulous day, albeit with a few mishaps. We made the continent! Or almost! To one of Hodgeman’s Islets west of the Mertz Glacier. It may or may not have been connected to the mainland. Regardless, it was made of rock!

      It was an 8km journey from the ship, traversed by Argo, quad bike and skis. The surface was firm – a pleasant change from the previous few trips. Steve and Peter the skiers described it as being like skiing on an ice rink. The Argo journey was however still something to endure rather than enjoy.

      [From ship to shore 50m not 1/2 NM. Ship in clear water not against “fast ice”. Was “shore” just “fast ice”?]

      The first drama of the day was the sinking – or almost! – of one of the Argos. The Argos are designed to be amphibious – just. They were launched today off the ship – and two of the three made it safely being towed by a zodiac the 50 metres or so to shore. The third was towed too fast it seems – and water came over the bonnet / bow, flooding both the engine and the vehicle itself. Ben tried in vain to bail out with a spade and luckily they made it to shore before the vehicle sunk entirely. Ben ended up rather wet too, but similarly to Mary, not submerged enough for the lifejacket to come into play. Sadly Argo engines don’t take too kindly to being submerged… the ships engineers are still working on it and not very optimistic about its prospects.

      [Realizing there were red flags earlier. Push to open water but sea/pack/drift ice closing in]

      The third drama of the day is the one which is still unfolding. Because of the Argo mishap we got off late, and had one less vehicle to ferry people to and fro. I’m told the Captain was becoming rather definite late in the afternoon that we needed to get everyone back on board ASAP because of the coming weather and the ice closing in. As I write we are continuing to make extremely slow progress through what looks like a winter alpine snow field – it’s yet another surreal part of this journey that we are in a ship trying to barge our way through here! I’m sure the Captain would have been much happier if we had got away a few hours earlier. Maybe we would have made it through the worst before it consolidated as much as it has with the very cold south- easterly winds blowing the ice away from the coast, around and behind us as well as ahead.

      We’ll see where we are in the morning – it may be a very white Christmas Eve!


      PS. 9.30am 24/12. We have moved less than a kilometre over night, and are now stationary in a sea of ice. The word is that we are not stuck, merely waiting for a weather change. It seems to me that we are having the quintessential Antarctic experience.J Stay tuned.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 06/01/2014 at 9:59 am said:

      Here’s the controversial statement in the Guardian by Turney that’s completely at odds with his own account of their Hodgeman Islets trip and subsequent push north at the spiritofmawson website (see above) and Janet Rice’s account the Hodgeman Islets trip then the push north (see above). My emphasis:

      Antarctic expedition: ‘This wasn’t a tourist trip. It was all about science – and it was worth it’

      Chris Turney

      Unfortunately, events unfolded which no amount of preparation can mitigate. To provide a comparison with the samples we collected in the Mawson Hut area, we relocated the vessel to the Mertz Glacier area in the east, a major driver of ocean circulation and importantly an area where the continent is closer to the sea ice edge. Late on 23 December, we returned to the Shokalskiy. We had completed our work programme on the continent and were heading north into open water to continue the oceanographic work on the return home.

      “…no amount of preparation can mitigate” ? There was a blizzard forecast, they could have canceled the shore trip.

      And no mention of the Hodgeman Islets trip. They’re all over this at WUWT (my emphasis):

      WUWT Reader LeAnn (Quin Tessential) writes to us suggesting that things aren’t as they seem to be:

      “More damning evidence? In the numbered Australasian Antarctic Expedition 2013 videos on youtube, you will see Parts 13 and 14 showing the trip to Mawson’s huts, and Part 15 shows the first mayday call from the ship. Where is the day or TWO days that is supposed to be between the Mawson trips and being stuck in the ice? Where’s video footage showing the groups on shore collecting samples? Or any photographs from them? Or even ONE of the Mertz Glacier they are supposedly so close to? Was Turney actually in Watts Bay (oh the irony) or Buchannan Bay when he thought he was near the glacier?

      Something’s wrong here.

      They weren’t at Mertz Glacier, they went to Hodgeman Islets. Was that an unplanned, spur-of-the-moment excursion?

      The answer could be in Janet Rice’s account of the day(s) immediately BEFORE the Hodgeman Islets trip. I’ll look that up.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 06/01/2014 at 10:40 am said:

      Turney’s excuse in the next paragraph (my emphasis):

      Unluckily for us, there appears to have been a mass breakout of thick, multiyear sea ice on the other side of the Mertz Glacier; years after the loss of the Mertz Glacier tongue. There was nothing to suggest this event was imminent.

      He wasn’t blaming an iceberg(s), he was blaming an unexpected (?) “mass breakout of thick, multiyear sea ice”.

      This is sea ice that is “disappearing” apparently. But the low pressure systems and blizzard forecasts should have introduced an element of immanency that the distribution of sea ice could be moved around by strong impending winds I would have thought.

      But Turney continues:

      We also had regular weather forecasts from two different sources: one from the Australian Antarctic Division base at Casey and the other a European company called Meteoexploration used by expeditioners. Both forecasts suggested consistent conditions.

      The forecasts were correct

      This seems entirely inconsistent with Janet Rice’s account of a blizzard forecast. He appears to be referring to some short, very local conditions rather than a bigger picture.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 06/01/2014 at 12:45 pm said:

      >”This seems entirely inconsistent with Janet Rice’s account of a blizzard forecast.”

      Janet Rice’s blog the DAY BEFORE the Hodgeman Islets trip:

      Sunday 22 December. Day 15

      Ah it must be because the days are now getting shorter that the weather has changed! There’s a blizzard on the way apparently!

      But Turney says “Both forecasts suggested consistent conditions. The forecasts were correct”.

      Consistent with what? A change and approaching blizzard?

    • Richard C (NZ) on 06/01/2014 at 1:36 pm said:

      >”They weren’t at Mertz Glacier, they went to Hodgeman Islets. Was that an unplanned, spur-of-the-moment excursion?”

      View detailed Leg 2 itinerary. – The Spirit of Mawson


      On this second, longer voyage we will head south, deep into the Southern Ocean. Our destination is Commonwealth Bay, where we will attempt to reach the original AAE huts at Cape Denison.


      Because of extensive sea ice in Commonwealth Bay, we will undertake aerial reconnaissance using drones to find a safe route to Cape Denison. We will attempt to access the site using ARGO’s — specialised ATV’s ideal for this journey over the fast ice; if conditions prove unsuitable we will attempt landfall elsewhere

      Fine. They went to Mawson’s Hutts at Cape Denison. Then they went to Hodgeman Islets, but there’s no mention of that in the itinerary. Just this vague plan:

      After nine days in the area we will return to New Zealand

      They detailed in full the plan of the excursion to Mawson’s Hutts at Cape Denison but there were no details or plans whatsoever revealed of a similar 8km excursion, requiring the same equipment, to Hodgeman Islets.

      Seems to me, that the Hodgeman Islets trip certainly was either an unplanned, spur-of-the-moment decision, or maybe it was an idea-on-the-table excursion possibility i.e. ‘well, what are we going to do for nine days?”.

      They did what they were there to do using the limited time available to them and that would have worked out OK in ideal conditions. But it was an ill-advised trip, even foolhardy, in view of the blizzard forecast. I don’t think Mawson would have been under the same time constraints or felt any pressure to push the limits of risk, ignoring a blizzard, in order to make landfall.

      Were they just over ambitious in the limited time available?

  7. Andy on 06/01/2014 at 8:30 am said:

    Bishop Hill provides a link to a video of Chris Turney during the preparation stage of the expedition

    • Andy on 06/01/2014 at 8:45 am said:

      I left a comment on BH that pointed out that the very accomplished Australian climber Greg Mortimer was on the expedition.

      Greg has climbed the N face of Everest without oxygen, Annapurna 2, plus run about 100 trips to the ice.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 06/01/2014 at 10:03 am said:

      Bish – “You have to say that Turney does not come over well”

    • Andy on 06/01/2014 at 11:03 am said:

      He seems quite a jovial sort of chap.

    • Mike Jowsey on 06/01/2014 at 1:59 pm said:

      Happy happy. A bit too happy. Doesn’t inspire confidence in planning or leadership abilities.

    • Andy on 06/01/2014 at 2:05 pm said:

      Agreed, but he did have Greg Mortimer onboard, who has 100 Antarctic trips under his belt, and came across as measured and sane in the same video.

      It does feel a bit like the “gentleman climbers” that were prevalent at the start of the era of Alpine climbing (in NZ and elsewhere), where typically a well-off aristocrat would hire a guide or two.

  8. Alexander K on 06/01/2014 at 3:20 pm said:

    The entire fiasco has tried my patience with alarmists, particularly those who, like Xmas Turkey, could not organise a booze-up in a brewery.
    In my experience, successful organisers of any physically demanding enterprise require leadership qualities in bucketloads, but academic qualifications are not so important.
    The wooden-spooners such as Turley obviously have mental constructs that don’t equip them for anything much beyond driving a desk and playing with elegant models in an ivory tower.
    How he could compare himself with hero material such as Mawson is beyond me.

    • Andy on 06/01/2014 at 3:24 pm said:

      He did have a pith helmet on his desk in the video from Bishop Hill.

      Mind you, I am getting a bit tired of this story now and the focus on Prof T.
      I’m sure there is more to come out of the woodwork yet, not forgetting that several seamen are still icebound in 2 ships

    • Richard C (NZ) on 06/01/2014 at 5:43 pm said:

      >”…the focus on Prof T”

      Yes. If you look at the aerial photo and ship track I’ve posted down-thread it’s clear that the Hodgeman Islets trip was a major BACKTRACK from their heading away from Cape Denison.

      The decision to turn BACK would have been a significant one involving all the co-leaders and the Captain at least. And interpretation of weather for that trip and subsequent decisions would have been a similar exercise too but involving other ships officers as well.

      These decisions cannot be attributed to Prof Turney alone I don’t think.

      It’s just unfortunate for Prof Turney that he’s the voluble one – “disappearing sea ice” and such like.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 06/01/2014 at 6:08 pm said:

      .”The entire fiasco has tried my patience with alarmists”

      What, no pathos?

  9. Richard C (NZ) on 06/01/2014 at 5:29 pm said:

    Aerail photo map of the Dec 20 Mawson’s Hutts/Cape Denison route plan from spiritofmawson website (landing site right next to B09B).

    Note the position of Stillwell Island, Mertz Glacier, and the 15 Dec ship position (see below):

    Ship track map showing Dec 20 ship position for Mawson’s Hutt landing (obviously an offset).

    Can’t find original at Guardian, just a larger scale that I zoom (see below).

    Track below shows deviation BACK after leaving Cape Denison to go BACK for the Hodgeman Islets trip. Shows subsequent Monday 23rd ship position just prior to stranding on 23/24.

    On the aerial photo above, this puts Hodgeman Islets position as Northeast of Stillwell Island, Northwest of Mertz Glacier, and Southeast of the 15 Dec ship position:

    Large scale interactive Guardian ship track map here (not much use without zooming):

    Expeditions Online: Spirit of Mawson – Commonwealth Bay Expedition
    Itinerary, locations maps (but not of Hodgeman Islets). Dumont D’Urville planned but they didn’t go there.

    The unplanned deviation BACK after leaving Cape Denison (doesn’t show at Expeditions Online) to go BACK for the Hodgeman Islets trip indicates to me that Hodgeman Islets was an afterthought, possibly to make up for not going to Dumont D’Urville.

  10. Manfred on 07/01/2014 at 8:56 am said:

    You may know this. If so, my apologies for the repetition.

    I notice that the NZ Department of Conservation is listed among the ‘AAE Supporters’. As its motif sits high and prominent on the list one supposes the ‘support’ is substantial.

    What form did the ‘support’ take? How much did it cost? Who okayed the spend of NZ tax payers money on this project? How exactly do NZ tax payers gain from the involvement? Why haven’t we heard anything from NZ MSM regarding the involvement of the Department of Conservation…. etc…etc…

    • Andy on 07/01/2014 at 9:06 am said:

      I did note that too. I was wondering exactly the same thing. Also, there is Landcare and the University Of Waikato

    • Andy on 07/01/2014 at 11:20 am said:

      This article on Radio NZ is worth read

      It answers some of the questions about what the research was about, and this article focusses on the part of the trip to Campbell Island

      “The World’s Loneliest Christmas Tree” is a lone Sitka Spruce on the island.

      During the first leg of the Spirit of Mawson expedition, Jonathan Palmer (left), who is part of the University of New South Wales’ palaeoclimate consortium, took a core sample from the tree in the hope that its tree rings would reveal climate information for the past century

    • Richard C (NZ) on 07/01/2014 at 12:07 pm said:

      Definitely well worth a read Andy – very informative.

      Friday 6 December 2013 – The Snares

      “In the afternoon, I caught up with our ecology team from Landcare Reseach, on their way back from the tree daisy forest on top of this island where they collected another peat core to explore whether the pollen signature has changed over the last millennium. But now, the long voyage home.”

      Wednesday 4 December 2013 – Campbell Island

      “The flightless Campbell Island teal was once thought extinct, but was rediscovered on Dent Island, a small satellite off Campbell Island, in the 1970s. The Department of Conservation caught some of the birds to establish a captive breeding programme, but once Campbell was declared rat-free, about 100 teal were released back on their island home in 2006. Just a few years later, they seem to be doing just fine. As we were waiting for the zodiac to pick us up, two were happily pottering among the bull kelp, and some have even made their way back from Dent Island.”

      Friday 29 November 2013 – Enderby Island

      “This bay is the best place to land a Zodiac, and most of us got dropped off there in the morning to explore the rest of the island. I was keen to find out about its settlement history and joined Landcare Research palaeo-ecologist Janet Wilmshurst, who was taking cores from Enderby’s peat bogs in search of any evidence of pre-European habitation.”

      # # #

      First leg explains Landcare Reseach, Department of Conservation. Probably UofW in there somewhere too.

    • Andy on 07/01/2014 at 12:12 pm said:

      NZ has an overabundance of paleo-climatic researchers, something that Dave Frame mentioned a while back, I think

      I had no idea that Landcare had paleo people though .

    • Andy on 07/01/2014 at 1:26 pm said:

      The audio from the Radio NZ link is interesting. There’s a lot of discussion on whether this lone tree is happy or not.

      Happy trees, happy feet. Brought to you by NZ taxpayers.

  11. Andy on 07/01/2014 at 9:09 am said:

    Note that the trip hasn’t ended just because they lost their boat.
    They are currently heading for the Australian Antarctic base at Casey

    • Richard C (NZ) on 07/01/2014 at 9:38 am said:

      >”They are currently heading for ……Casey”

      They are, their heavy gear – argo/zodiac boats, quad bikes etc – are still on the Shokalskiy.

  12. Richard C (NZ) on 07/01/2014 at 9:32 am said:

    To the rescue! – USCGC Polar Star

    Installed power:
    Six Alco 16V-251F diesel engines (6 × 3,000 hp)
    Three Pratt & Whitney FT-4A12 gas turbines (3 × 25,000 hp)

    The diesel-electric plant can produce 18,000 shaft horsepower (13 MW) and the gas turbine plant a total of 75,000 shaft horsepower (56 MW).[4]

    [4] History

    This requires fossil fuel in large quantities:

    Antarctic Ship Drama: What Is an Icebreaker, Really?

    What about power?

    “You have to have lots of horsepower and an ability to readily reverse and stop the direction of thrust quickly. The Polar-class ships have a very unique system, with two kinds of propulsion: a diesel-electric system for steaming over long distances, and gas turbines—like those on a commercial jet—that [provide extra power]. But the gas turbines burn a whole lot of fuel very fast. So the captain constantly has to make the decision on how much turbine power to use. [An icebreaker like the Polar Star would carry about 1.3 million gallons of diesel fuel aboard.]”

    ‘Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star Battles the Beaufort Sea’

    “To refuel, the Polar Star had to make Dutch Harbor, hundreds of miles away through the Bering Strait and across the Bering Sea. Reconnaissance flights by the ship’s helicopters and Canadian planes reported that 120 miles of unbroken ice lay ahead. It was the heaviest ice Taylor had ever seen, and fighting it would consume the ship’s 500,000 gallons of fuel in five days.”

    ‘Northern Sea Route Reconnaissance Study’
    A Summary of Icebreaking Technology
    June 1995

    Page 31 (pdf)

    Table 2. Estimates of daily fuel consumption for a Polar-class icebreaker.

    Fuel consumption rate
    Ship status (gallons/day) (tons/day)*

    Open water transit (three propulsion diesel) 14,000 42
    Icebreaking (six propulsion diesel) 25,000 75
    Icebreaking (diesel on wing shafts, gas turbine on center shaft) 35,000 105
    Icebreaking (three gas turbines) 60,000 180

    * Relation used for conversion: 1000 gallons/day » 3 tons/day.

    The problem:

    The Chinese icebreaker Xue Long (seen above) evacuated 52 passengers by helicopter from the research vessel Akademik Shokalskiy this week.

    • Andy on 07/01/2014 at 9:43 am said:

      I watched quite a good documentary on icebreakers on a recent plane trip. The Russians used to use nuclear power for their breakers, but have switched to diesel now.

      The big ones really are pretty impressive machines.

  13. Richard C (NZ) on 07/01/2014 at 10:06 am said:

    Mawson did a bit more on-shore hiking than “Spirit of” Mawson did:

    ‘Mawson and Mertz: a re-evaluation of their ill-fated mapping journey during the 1911–1914 Australasian Antarctic Expedition’

    Denise Carrington-Smith

    See: “Sketch of the mapping journey undertaken by Mawson, Mertz and Ninnis, showing the glaciers named after the two men who died. [Mertz, Ninnis]”

    Ship journeys a bit different too:

    Map showing the area covered by the AAE, including the tracks of the Aurora and most of the deep sea soundings. Published by the Royal Geographical Society in the Geographical Journal 1914.

    Note the track from Adele Land (vicinity of Mertz Glacier/Cape Denison-Mawson Hutts), through pack ice, West along the coast to Queen Mary Land.

  14. Richard C (NZ) on 07/01/2014 at 10:49 am said:

    [Turney] “Let’s be clear. Us becoming locked in ice was not caused by climate change. Instead it seems to have been an aftershock of the arrival of iceberg B09B which triggered a massive reconfiguration of sea ice in the area.”

    What schlock. B09B moved from Mertz Glacier in the EAST to Mawson’s Hutts, Commonwealth Bay in the WEST, and has been there since at least 2011/12. The sea ice that trapped AAE was blown, by blizzard, from EAST of Mertz to mid way between Mertz and Mawson’s where the ship is stranded..

    Climate change It wasn’t (the record sea ice levels are), but B09B had nothing to do with it i.e. didn’t “trigger” anything – it’s stationary to the WEST.

    Sea ice reports for the season 2011-2012:

  15. Richard C (NZ) on 07/01/2014 at 6:36 pm said:

    ‘Ice-breaking rescue costs soar into the millions’

    Andrew Darby, SMH, January 7, 2014

    As one of the world’s most powerful icebreakers heads south from Australia, the costs stemming from the rescue of passengers from a ship stuck in ice are soaring into the millions.

    Luck put the US Coast Guard heavy icebreaker Polar Star within a week of the beset tourist expedition ship Akademik Shokalskiy, and China’s Xue Long, which tried to free the Russian vessel before being caught itself.

    The Polar Star was recommissioned only last month after years out of action, and had paused in Sydney on its way south to break into the US McMurdo base when it was diverted.
    MV Akademik Shokalskiy trapped in the ice at sea off Antarctica.

    Meanwhile, the Australian ship Aurora Australis was still days away from resuming its resupply at Casey station, after a diversion that would amount to more than $1 million in ship’s operating costs, an informed source said.

    The Aurora is also carrying an extra 52 people, rescued from the Shokalskiy by Chinese helicopter, as passengers for around two more weeks.

    Similar operating costs in fuel and other charges face the Chinese government over the use of the Xue Long, while Polar Star’s diversion will chew through more fuel as it breaks into old, heavily-packed ice around the beset ships, south of Hobart near Commonwealth Bay.

    The Australian Maritime Safety Authority ‘s general manager of emergency response, John Young, said costs of the ships’ diversion would broadly fall to their government owners, and perhaps to insurance.

    Read more:

    • Andy on 07/01/2014 at 7:17 pm said:

      The issues around costs of the rescue really come down to risk analysis and insurance.
      There are many high cost rescues of climbers and other backcountry users that I wouldn’t dismiss if those concerned had taken appropriate steps to cover themselves.

      Given that I have undertaken many high risk adventures myself, it would be dishonest of me to start screaming about the high costs of the operation, especially as the very experienced Greg Mortimer was on the trip in the capacity of a polar logistics expert.

      I’m trying to step back from the attack dogs for a bit and look at what really went on. There are those with an obvious agenda who want to see Chris Turney get skewered.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 07/01/2014 at 10:38 pm said:

      >”…and look at what really went on”

      And what can be learned from that type of trip, in that type of vessel, in that type of weather, and in that type of sea ice.

      Thing is it’s not the first trip to be rescued, there have been a few now. Spirit of Shackleton was another. Even Aurora Australis was stuck in an earlier trip.

      Having said that, I’ve certainly been very interested in what they got up to and good on them for it. I know a heck of a lot more of the area and Mawson too that I probably wouldn’t have taken an interest in if they hadn’t got trapped i.e. they’ve “raised my awareness”. It’s the nature of people to want to do these things as you’ve done Andy, I can only look on vicariously not having booked myself on the boat.

      Getting trapped is not a reason for AAE-type trips to stop completely I don’t think, but a re-assessment of non-icebreaker tourist vessels in pack ice might be in order, AAE leg 1 got people to some out-of-the-way places uneventfully. Leg 2 to Mawson’s Hutts was more risky but they seemed to have put a lot of planning into it. I am askance at the climate change spin from Turney but if would only cloud his perception of the risk possibly, that doesn’t mean the other AAE/Shokalskiy decision makers would be similarly clouded. The risk was worst-case weather combined with plentiful sea ice being moved by it. I don’t think Turney was cognizant of that but others like Mortimer might have been and Captain Igor seems to have been.

      But taking that worst-case risk when a blizzard was imminent, even though shorter forecasts were favourable, when time was not on their side, doesn’t present as a responsible plan in my view.

      Where they came unstuck was Hodgeman Islets specifically. I think they overextended themselves in an effort to make the most of their time. They hadn’t planned it like Mawson’s Hutts and threw caution to the wind. Then the worst-case risk actually happened, they were caught out. I’ve already reasoned blame for them taking that risk cannot be laid solely with Chris Turney because there must have been several others involved in the decision making (were there voices of caution that were overruled I wonder? and by whom?). If instead they had gone well planned to Hodgeman I. before unplanned to C. Denison they probably would have been stuck off C Denison instead under the same decision making.

      What’s abundantly clear now though is that a ship like the Shokalskiy is fine in drift ice conditions but all it takes is a blizzard to pack multi-year drift ice ice into fast ice 10 m thick that even purpose-built ice breakers can’t negotiate – the worst-case scenario. And there’s plenty of ice around for that to happen rather than it “disappearing”.

      Air New Zealand ceased all Antarctic flights after Erebus but what do the eco-tour cruises and science trips do now? And how will the govts and insurers paying the rescue cost look upon Antarctic eco-tours in sub-optimal vessels? I wonder too if there is still some sort of contractual liability or negligence suit in the offing given the worst-case risk circumstances and apparent lack of responsibility.

    • Mike Jowsey on 07/01/2014 at 11:37 pm said:

      Judith Curry has a level-headed article (as usual) on the incident in which she comments:

      “While the stranded passengers seem to be partying like this is Gilligan’s Island and enjoying the adventure, the rescue risk/cost is substantial.”

      “Perhaps since this expedition was more motivated by civic than scientific reasons, the same [logistical/planning] efforts were not undertaken. But the influence of this expedition failure on canceling scientific research as vessels are diverted in rescue attempts has implications for international science and its coordination.”

      “And finally, I return to the issue raised by BishopHill: ”the sheer majesty of the propaganda failure that Prof Turney and his colleagues have achieved.” This angle seems to be downplayed in the media reports, but it seems fairly obvious that CAGW PR was a major part of this expedition.”

      I think Turney has a lot of explaining to do. He seems to have skewered himself along with several ships, their crews and passengers. We are all interested in “what really went on”, Andy, but the glaring facts are that they got caught in an avoidable situation which put peoples’ lives at risk; they were on a mission to “communicate” CAGW; and they got stuck in ice which Turney maintains is “disappearing”.

      He goes on to say “Climate change may have prompted the iceberg to shatter and float into the previously open sea where the mostly Australian team finds itself stranded, Turney said.”

      I may be an attack dog, Andy, but he’s the one that’s barking mad.

    • Andy on 08/01/2014 at 6:56 am said:

      My feeling about the decisions made were that it was possibly what climbers call “summit fever”, where bad decisions get made in a quest to “knock the bastard off” as Ed Hillary put it.

      There were also a lot of inexperienced people on the trip who didn’t have much appreciation of the risks. Even with Greg Mortimer inboard, it must have been hard to manage all those excitable people

      Having said that, no one has been hurt or killed (yet), and I hope it stays that way.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 08/01/2014 at 9:01 am said:

      >”summit fever”

      That encapsulates it very well I think Andy. Take a look at the ship track again:

      I think it’s incomplete because the vessel went close to the shore/fast ice, they were only 50m out.

      So they had gone back maybe 5km through open water and about 5km through drift ice to get to Hodgemans, 10km all up the vessel approx. They wouldn’t want to turn back then.

      Then they made an 8km argo/zodiac/quad/ski trip along shore/fast ice making an 18 km trip in and another 8km back to the ship makes 26km. They didn’t turn back on shore and maybe didn’t need to, but summit fever had probably taken over by then. Most critical, they didn’t hustle the 8km back after delays with the argo swamping. On return they would have been tired and exhilarated and in no rush, this cost them their escape to open water.

      So there’s 4 stages of “summit fever” as I see it, each requiring re-assessment:

      1) 10km ship in
      2) 50m ship to shore (gone 10km)
      3) 8km shore in (gone 18km)
      4) At Hodgemans (gone 18km) – how much time spent here?
      5) 8km shore out (gone 26km)
      6) 50m shore to ship (gone 26km)

      By Turney’s account, only at the last stage of the 26km trip, stage 6) 50m shore to ship, did they “quickly load the gear on the vessel” or words to that effect.

      Summit fever having increased from stage 1) to stage 4).

    • Richard C (NZ) on 08/01/2014 at 9:19 am said:

      Could add the last actual stage I suppose,

      7) 2km ship out (gone 28km)

      But far too late for them by then, re-assessment opportunity was 1) to 4).

    • Richard C (NZ) on 08/01/2014 at 9:07 am said:

      Turney’s made some bizarre statements and deserves all the brickbats for that Mike – no dispute from me.

      But I think we have to separate that from the Hodgemans trip decision making – Turney was only one of several others doing that.

    • Andy on 08/01/2014 at 9:29 am said:

      That was the point I was trying to make too.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 08/01/2014 at 10:28 am said:

      >”Turney’s made some bizarre statements…”

      Not just Turney either:

      ‘Expedition Communication Director Alvin Stone: “Climate Warming Led To The Vessel’s Awkward Predicament”!’

    • Andy on 08/01/2014 at 12:00 pm said:

      Alvin Stone – “communications director”

      Oh give me strength. Where do they get these turkeys from?

    • Richard C (NZ) on 08/01/2014 at 8:41 pm said:

      Alvin Stone: “Climate warming led to the vessel’s awkward predicament”

      Chris Turney: “Let’s be clear. Us becoming locked in ice was not caused by climate change”

    • Andy on 08/01/2014 at 8:52 pm said:

      Alvin Stone – birth of a gangster

    • Andy on 08/01/2014 at 9:02 pm said:

      Alvin Stone

      Media and Communications Manager

      ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science
      University of New South Wales

      Phone: (02) 9385 8953 / 0418 617 366


      Alvin worked as an editor with Fairfax Community News and then News Local for over a decade before moving across to media communications. As a media communicator he has worked for WWF-Australia and most recently Primary Communication, a boutique agency specialising in corporate clients in the energy, transport, IT and not-for-profit sectors.

      Alvin Jones, bullshit artist, not to be confused with Alvin Jones, gangster

  16. Richard C (NZ) on 08/01/2014 at 9:33 am said:

    ‘Trapped ships break through Antarctic ice’

    AFP | Beijing January 8, 2014 Last Updated at 01:30 IST

    Two ships — a Chinese icebreaker and a Russian research vessel — broke free today from thick Antarctic ice where they had been trapped for days.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 08/01/2014 at 9:43 am said:

      “We are going at a slow speed and by changing course, we have moved forward already more than 20 miles,” [Shokalskiy Captain Igor] Kiselyov added.

      We were told by Turney, whether accurate or not, that they only had to go “5km” to get to open water. This was before the ice moved in en masse.

      Now the ship has moved “20 miles” and it’s still not in open water.

    • Andy on 08/01/2014 at 10:15 am said:

      I wonder if they’ll go back and pick up the original passengers

    • Richard C (NZ) on 08/01/2014 at 10:25 am said:

      I wondered too. Makes sense.

  17. Richard C (NZ) on 08/01/2014 at 10:08 am said:

    ‘Still Stuck in a Climate Argument’

    Published: January 6, 2014

    “When a ship carrying scientists and adventure tourists became stuck in ice in the Antarctic late last month, climate change skeptics had a field day. On Twitter and other social media sites, they pointed out that a group whose journey was meant to highlight the effects of global warming was trapped by a substance that was supposed to be melting.”

    This turns out to be a balanced article that addresses the unknowns amid the speculation e.g.

    “The skeptics do have a good point,” Dr. Maksym said. “Why are we not paying as much attention to what’s going on in the Antarctic? There are good reasons to figure out why these changes are happening.”

    • Mike Jowsey on 08/01/2014 at 11:00 am said:

      Thanks RC – good article.

      “But sea ice cover in the Antarctic is changing, and scientists see the influence of climate change, although they say natural climate variability may be at work, too. “The truth is, we don’t fully understand what’s going on,” said Ted Maksym, a researcher at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.”

      And Judith Curry points out:
      “The impact of sea ice on climate is through influencing surface albedo, influencing the exchange of heat between ocean and atmosphere (and the ocean surface temperature), and influencing the circulation patterns of both the atmosphere and ocean. Hence there is a complex dance between the oceans, atmosphere and sea ice whereby their interactions both influence and are influenced by global climate change.”

      So for an eco-activist Professor (or two) to state categorically that “Climate Warming Led To The Vessel’s Awkward Predicament” is simply pushing an agenda without scientific impartiality.

  18. Richard C (NZ) on 09/01/2014 at 8:35 am said:

    ‘Why Did The Akademik Leave It Too Late?’

    By Paul Homewood, January 8, 2014

    “The whole episode smacks of gross negligence. In theory, it is the ship’s master who bears ultimate responsibility, but was he put under undue pressure to sail into the area in the first place? What advice did the captain give to the expedition leaders?

    Who made the decision to allow anybody, and particularly tourists, to not only leave the ship, but to travel 8km away from it?

    And did the captain ask for the shore parties to return to ship before they actually did?”

  19. Andy on 09/01/2014 at 2:17 pm said:

    Fear not, the legendary Mark Steyn (of Mann vs Steyn fame) steps up to the plate with his take on SS Clitantic in the Speccie:

    • Richard C (NZ) on 09/01/2014 at 4:18 pm said:

      Classic Steyn. But it is too good to be true,

      “……the exquisite symbolic perfection of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition ‘stuck in our own experiment’, as they put it”


      “… the expedition’s marine ecologist Tracy Rogers told the BBC, ‘I love it when the ice wins and we don’t.’

      Hardly needs Mark Steyn’s embellishment.

    • Ron on 09/01/2014 at 11:03 pm said:

      good to see Steyn back
      BTW link didn’t work for me, this one was OK:

    • Mike Jowsey on 10/01/2014 at 10:08 am said:

      Classic Steyn – brilliant. My take-away is “Big Climate”,

      Big Climate is slowly being crushed by a hard, icy reality: if you’re heading off to university this year, there has been no global warming since before you were in kindergarten.

  20. Richard C (NZ) on 10/01/2014 at 9:03 am said:

    ‘Ice rescue sparks Antarctic tourism debate’

    * Published: 9 Jan 2014 at 11.49
    * Online news: Asia

    The challenging rescue operation launched after a Russian ship became trapped in Antarctic pack ice last month shows the inherent risks facing the frozen continent’s burgeoning tourist industry, experts say.

    “It does indeed serve as a reminder that it’s an extreme environment that we’re dealing with, whether it’s scientific expeditions going down there or tourism cruises,” Daniela Liggett, a specialist in Antarctic tourism regulation at New Zealand’s Canterbury University, told AFP.

  21. The Australasian Antarctic Expedition AAE and journalists are still on the Australian Antarctic Division ship Aurora Australis which for over 24 hrs now has been slowly steaming a box pattern 10-20 miles off Casey waiting for calmer conditions to permit loading/unloading to start again.
    I am wondering how long before they are flown home.

  22. Visiting Physicist on 10/01/2014 at 2:36 pm said:

    OPEN LETTER to PROF CHRIS TURNEY, University of NSW, Sydney

    Dear Prof Turney

    I am a physics graduate who in recent years has turned his attention to very comprehensive study of climate, climate models and the alleged greenhouse radiative forcing conjecture. I have written to you personally and now make this matter public herein and elsewhere on various climate blogs.

    I make the following points …

    (1) Any study of temperature records for various inland cities (such temperatures being adjusted for altitude) will reveal that the mean daily maximum and minimum temperatures are lower in the more moist regions, because the greenhouse gas water vapour cools, as does carbon dioxide to a very small extent.

    (2) The total solar energy reaching the top of the Venus atmosphere would not be anywhere near enough to raise its surface temperate to about 730K so such cannot be explained by radiative forcing.

    My challenge to you is to find anyone with sufficient knowledge of thermodynamics who can in any way support the conjecture that radiative forcing determines planetary surface temperatures.

  23. Richard C (NZ) on 10/01/2014 at 6:58 pm said:

    ‘Australian Antarctic Division head Tony Fleming says they’ll make efforts to recover the cost of #spiritofmawson rescue’

    Posted on January 9, 2014 by Anthony Watts

    From radio 666 ABC in Canberra, Australia, full audio follows.

    Tony Fleming, director of the Australian Antarctic Division tells Louise Maher the AAD wasn’t linked to the Australasian Antarctic Expedition despite an implication by the expedition head that he had an “official stamp of approval”.


    Tony Fleming says the AAD will make efforts to recover the cost of the rescue which set back their own missions.

    See Update:

    [Turney, Guardian] – “We worked on our research programme with the Australian Antarctic Division and other bodies and the expedition was considered significant enough to be given the official stamp of approval.”

    • Mike Jowsey on 10/01/2014 at 11:08 pm said:

      Aha! The game’s afoot. AAD are distancing themselves big-time. Buy popcorn folks. This is going to be some turkey shoot.

  24. Mike Jowsey on 10/01/2014 at 11:45 pm said:

    National Geographic opinion piece:
    The members of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition 2013-2014 (AAE)—who intended to re-create a very small part of Sir Douglas Mawson’s original monumental expedition of 1911-14—seemed strangely blasé—even giddily upbeat—during their ten days stranded in the ice.
    For many seasoned adventurers, the team’s attitude was hard to swallow. It seemed to betoken a new kind of entitlement, in which folks who get into serious trouble take it for granted that other people will risk their lives to save them.
    The real heroes of the story were the 101 members of the Xue Long, the 22 crew members of the Shokalskiy who stayed with their ship, the crew of the Polar Star, and that of the Australian ship Aurora Australis that powered south to receive the airlifted refugees.
    The whole expedition, these experts implied, amounted to a “frivolous” lark that added almost nothing to our knowledge of the southern continent.

  25. Like the Flying Dutchman – Prof Chris Turney and his expedition seem doomed to sail the frigid wastes –
    “Aurora Australis delayed 20 miles off Casey due wind preventing safe cargo operations”
    well until winds ease at Casey anyway. 2.5 days and counting now – as I write wind at the Casey webcam is still 59kmh.
    Fascinating too that journalists ship bound with him on the AAE are silent.

    We should not forget the AAD depends on warmist inclined research for much of its $180mill budget. The ABC interview of AAD Director Dr Tony Fleming bears careful listening.

  26. Andy on 13/01/2014 at 10:33 am said:

    Shub reports

    that the SoM expedition only had two weeks of food left, and just over a week’s worth when they are rescued.

    The Akademic is now back in NZ, whilst the expedition are in Antarctica

  27. Andy on 13/01/2014 at 10:58 am said:

    Adele penguins need to cross more ice because of climate change

  28. Richard C (NZ) on 14/01/2014 at 9:13 am said:

    ‘Game finally up for carboncrats’

    Tom Switzer, Comment, SMH, January 14, 2014

    It was promoted as the voyage to study the melting of ice sheets in the South Pole as well as to retrace Douglas Mawson’s perilous expedition a century ago.

    Yet the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, led by UNSW climatologist Chris Turney, has become a comedy goldmine.

    “The climate-change Cassandras are increasingly marginalised here and abroad”

    In case you missed the story during your Christmas break, the researchers became trapped in ice so thick that Chinese rescue attempts could not reach the frozen ship.

    “It fell to Professor Turney’s ship to play the role of our generation’s Titanic,” Canadian satirist Mark Steyn noted. “Unlike the original, this time round the chaps in the first-class staterooms were rooting for the iceberg.”

    And Parish-based writer Anne Jolis quipped: “Maybe the climate-change researchers even raised a glass, if they had any liquor left. They certainly had enough ice.”

    Humour aside, events such as this indicate dark days for green enthusiasts.

    Tony Abbott’s likely repeal of the unpopular carbon tax this year reflects a global trend: the anti-carbon agenda is being subjected to the most intense scrutiny, and is found wanting.

    Read more:

    “Meanwhile, 2013 marked the 15th year of flat-lined global surface temperatures, despite record levels of carbon dioxide being pumped into the atmosphere since 1998.”

    # # #

    There will be some discomfort in the SMH Environment section that this comment was printed by the SMH.

  29. Richard C (NZ) on 16/01/2014 at 8:13 am said:

    ‘Ship of Fools’

    Steve McIntyre, Jan 15, 2014

    Like many others, I’ve been intrigued by the misadventures of the Ship of Fools. Dozens of tourist vessels visit the Antarctic without becoming trapped by ice. So it’s entirely valid to inquire into why the one tourist vessel led by a “climate scientist” became trapped by ice.


    The yellow arrow shows where Turney placed the origin of the “multi-year” ice that later pinned the vessel. It is obvious that there isn’t any as of the beginning of December. This image, by itself, refutes Turney’s explanation of events, as will be seen below.

    • Mike Jowsey on 16/01/2014 at 10:57 am said:

      Thanks for the link RC. This is a very thorough, clear chronology and logical analysis by Steve McIntyre. Very damning too. Turney has been telling lies. This was a tourist jaunt first and foremost and is aptly dubbed “Ship of Fools”.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 23/01/2014 at 12:55 pm said:

      ‘New Details on the Ship of Fools’

      By Steve McIntyre, Jan 21, 2014 at 9:35 PM

      The precise chronology of the Ship of Fools on December 23 has been a topic of interest on skeptic blogs, including my recent post demonstrating the falsity of Turney’s excuses. However, up to today, this chronology had received zero media coverage, despite several reporters from major media on the Ship of Fools.

      Today, there are two stories (BBC and Sydney Morning Herald , both of which contain damning information (especially the latter.) Note embedded link in latter article h/t Bob Koss, with important details not reported in the main article.

      Here are new details on the day’s chronology.>>>>>>>>

    • Richard C (NZ) on 23/01/2014 at 1:08 pm said:

      ‘University of New South Wales on Sub-Charter’

      Steve McIntyre, Jan 21, 2014 at 10:26 PM

      The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the University of New South Wales is a signatory to the sub-charter of the Akademik Shokalskiy:

      “To retrace Mawson’s voyage the AAE used the New Zealand tourism company Heritage Expeditions to sub-charter the Shokalskiy, an ice strengthened ship owned by the Russia government. Turney and Fogwill’s employer, UNSW, signed the sub-charter contract.”

      I don’t know how liability for rescue costs is allocated. However, the fact that the University of New South Wales is a party to the sub-charter places its potential liability in a new light. However, in most legal proceedings, plaintiffs look for the party with the deepest pockets, which, in this case, would be the University of New South Wales.

      Statements by Greg Mortimer in the report to IAATO (not public yet but seen by the Sydney Morning Herald) place blame for evacuation delays on the conduct of Turney’s on-ice party and exonerate the Russian captain.

  30. Apologies for this off topic comment – just wondered how summer has been going over the ditch –
    So not all New Zealand will enjoy “perfect summer” by mid January as cold front hits NZ like a freight train

    BTW the Aurora Australis is around 62° South making good progress towards Hobart.

    • Mike Jowsey on 18/01/2014 at 8:49 am said:

      Just anecdotally I would say maybe cooler and definitely wetter. The cherries got ruined by the rain – very wet December. The sugar level of the remnant was pathetic indicating low sunshine hours. Normally we get settled weather in mid-Feb through mid-Mar.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 18/01/2014 at 10:54 am said:

      Bah! Humbug – cherries.

      Cooler and wetter in the SI but a warm winter and nothing excess in the NI – tale of two islands.

      Kiwifruit is a good crop this year. Larger fruit than last year but don’t know what the sugar level is yet. Just as well, I’ve never seen as many small/undersize fruit as after the 2012/13 drought. The sugar level was high though.

      Definitely settled weather normal either side of mid-Dec through mid-Feb. The end of spring, beginning of summer was idyllic here in the BOP, flip-side no surf. Holiday season not so idyllic but at least some surf. Just blown a gale for two days straight but we didn’t quite get the Antarctic air that lower SI got.

  31. Alexander K on 21/01/2014 at 11:55 am said:

    This is probably late, but I have just read Climate Audit’s latest on this saga, a wonderful example of Steve Mac’s brilliant forensic work. Dr Turkey appears to be not only less than truthful, but quite madly irresponsible as well. It’s many years since I was responsible for the safety and well-being of my own offspring, but Dr Turkey’s attitudes to the responsibilities of parenting is nothing short of deranged! As others have pointed out, it’s not the crime but the cover-up which really incriminates.

  32. Mike Jowsey on 21/01/2014 at 9:10 pm said:

    A bit of a giggle:
    Hitler becomes a Climate Scientist and gets trapped in Sea Ice

  33. Richard C (NZ) on 22/01/2014 at 7:37 am said:

    ‘Guess who won an award for understanding Natural Phenomena?’


    The Australian Academy of Science has announced it’s 2014 Academy awards to “celebrate scientific excellence.”

    To show how excellent, their excellence is, the Frederick White Prize for scientific achievements contributing to the understanding of natural phenomena goes to Professor Chris Turney, University of New South Wales.

    • Mike Jowsey on 22/01/2014 at 9:54 am said:

      [groan]… If Turney is excellent, then this movie should also win an academy award….

      I bet he was secretly hoping for a Nobel Peace Prize, like Al ‘n’ Pach, but I guess “any port in a storm”, heh.

  34. Richard C (NZ) on 22/01/2014 at 5:49 pm said:

    ‘Antarctic field trip a factor in ship becoming trapped in sea ice on Christmas Eve’

    Colin Cosier, Nicky Phillips, SMH, January 22, 2014

    A four-hour delay on a passenger field trip in Antarctica may have contributed to the Akademik Shokalskiy becoming trapped in sea ice on Christmas Eve.

    In the hours before the ship was caught, its captain, Igor Kiselev, feared it would be surrounded by moving sea ice and requested passengers visiting nearby rocky islands return to the vessel, say passengers who didn’t go on the trip.

    It took several hours for the people visiting the Hogdeman Islands, including the two expedition leaders, to return to the ship, passengers said. Four hours passed before the ship retreated for open water.

    “The captain and his staff up on the [ship’s] bridge did not look happy,” said one passenger, who asked to remain anonymous.

    By the time the ship departed the ice edge after 6pm, shifting sea ice had already blocked the escape route. The Akademik Shokalskiy was stuck by 3am.


    In addition to the field-trip delay, the director of the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre, Tony Press, said the satellite images his organisation provided to the AAE before it entered the sea ice-prone area ”showed where the sea ice was located and the weather forecast predicted increasing winds, which would tell you that the sea ice could move”.

    Read more:

    • Richard C (NZ) on 23/01/2014 at 7:17 am said:

      From the SMH article, we now know (some of) Greg Mortimer’s actions:

      “About 2.30pm the weather deteriorated. At the same time Captain Kiselev saw slabs of sea ice moving into the open water channel from which the ship had entered the area. He called for everyone to return.

      A passenger standing near Professor Turney overheard the voyage leader, Greg Mortimer, telling him over the radio to bring passengers back to the ship so it can leave.

      But minutes later, Professor Turney drove six more passengers into the field.

      The overloaded vehicle had no space to collect returning passengers.

      Rings true with Andy’s comments re Mortimer. And Turney blatantly ignored Mortimer apparently, but then Turney does excel when “understanding natural phenomena” according to the AAS.

    • Mike Jowsey on 23/01/2014 at 11:54 am said:

      “This account has been reconstructed from interviews with members of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition 2013/14, most of whom wished to remain anonymous…”

    • Richard C (NZ) on 23/01/2014 at 3:00 pm said:

      >”This account…” (Mike’s quote)

      Comes from the blog post pointed out at Climate Audit (it’s easy to miss).

      >”Note embedded link in latter [main SMH] article”

      Which is: ‘Stuck in the Ice’

      [Blog] By Nicky Phillips & Colin Cosier

      The inside story of how a polar expedition went terribly wrong, leaving dozens of tourists and scientists trapped in the ice.

      From the blog:

      “The leaders were also receiving daily weather forecasts from three sources, the Bureau of Meteorology’s forecasters at Casey station, a private forecasting company in Europe and the ship’s onboard weather station. From this information Mortimer estimated the team had 15 to 18 hours before the weather deteriorated, and 24 hours before a more serious change was expected.” [I assume this assessment was on the morning of the 23rd]

      “But the Bureau of Meteorology weather forecast issued the day before predicted high winds late on the 23rd.”

      Phillips & Cosier refer to “the report the voyage leader, Greg Mortimer, submitted to IAATO”:

      Mortimer’s report also suggested human failures were to blame for the expedition’s dramatic end.

      In his concluding remarks the Antarctic veteran referred to a “breakdown in our plans” to move people in and out of the Hodgeman Islands, which caused a two-hour delay, as one of the contributing factors.

      While the group experienced problems with their VHF radios at the islands, the two satellite phones had gone unanswered.

      And the plan to transfer passengers for a short 10 to 15 minute stay at the Hodgeman’s was not adhered too.

      “In my view, it is the breakdown in this that may have been a contributing factor leading to the vessel becoming stuck in the ice,” wrote Mortimer.

      His finals remark credits the captain, who acted impeccably throughout the ordeal.

      Described elsewhere by Larry Bell as the “best laid plans of mice and men going awry” conundrum thing.

  35. Richard C (NZ) on 23/01/2014 at 6:52 am said:

    ‘Mawson’s Spirit Gets Right of Reply.’


    There seems no shortage, nor a dearth, of those who plan to save the earth;
    Christopher Turney, (“That’s Professor, thanks”), felt the need to join their ranks,
    So he organised his own crusade, somewhat pricey, mostly paid,
    By largesse of the public purse – not the last time, nor the first.

    His purpose and his noble goal – to sail towards the Southern Pole,
    To collect, collate and then report, all data of the climate sort,
    Thus confirming something we all “knew” – the evil role of CO2;
    Any changes he would show, compared to Mawson, years ago.

    (To raise the profile of his scheme, he passed it off as “Mawson’s Dream”.)
    Apart from that, not much to do, just hire a boat with Russian crew,
    And, to tabulate the climate ruin, invite some friends and camera crew in;
    (These climate types, I don’t know why, are rarely, rarely camera shy.)


  36. Richard C (NZ) on 23/01/2014 at 3:26 pm said:

    ‘Plan to curb Antarctic expeditions after costly rescue of trapped ship’

    Andrew Darby, SMH, January 23, 2014

    The Australian government is pushing to rein in private operators in the Antarctic after the multimillion-dollar rescue of a University of NSW expedition that became caught in pack ice.

    A new law adopted by Australia, but yet to come into force through the Antarctic Treaty, requires all such expeditions to be fully insured for search and rescue, and have their own emergency plans.

    Read more:

  37. Richard C (NZ) on 24/01/2014 at 5:52 pm said:

    ‘We’re seeking $2.4m costs for Antarctic rescue: Greg Hunt’

    Andrew Darby, SMH, January 23, 2014 – 4:04PM


    “We will be seeking full cost recovery through insurance for the up to $2.4 million costs incurred by the Australian government,” [Environment Minister] Mr Hunt said.

    He said the government willingly protected life at sea and believed in Antarctic co-operation.

    “However, what we see here is that there are some questions as to whether or not the ship was detained by the action of those on board within an area that the captain had identified as being potentially subject to being frozen in.”

    Read more:

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