Posts Tagged ‘Antarctic’

Alarmists wail – “Collapse” of Antarctic ice is nigh (but it could take 1000 years)

May 13, 2014

There is much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

The headlines would suggest an impending catastrophe. The Western Atlantic ice sheet is “collapsing”. Sea level could rise 1.2m.

The end of the world is nigh. And it is all due to global warming!!

Yes indeed – except that the melting has been going on for centuries. The so called “collapse” may take upto 1,000 years! Measurements over 9 years are projected over a millenium. Computer models have forecast that the loss of the glaciers is unstoppable and will occur sometime in the next 1,000 years.

The Guardian: Western Antarctic ice sheet collapse has already begun, scientists warn

BBC: ‘Nothing can stop retreat’ of West Antarctic glaciers

A collapse in very slow motion!

The alarmist headlines are are based on two papers. Note that one is based on 9 years of measurement and the other is a computer forecast about a “collapse” that is potentially underway.

1. E. Rignot, J. Mouginot, M. Morlighem, H. Seroussi and B. Scheuchl, Widespread, rapid grounding line retreat of Pine Island, Thwaites, Smith and Kohler glaciers, West Antarctica from 1992 to 2011, Geophysical Research LettersDOI: 10.1002/2014GL060140

AbstractWe measure the grounding line retreat of glaciers draining the Amundsen Sea Embayment of West Antarctica using Earth Remote Sensing (ERS-1/2) satellite radar interferometry from 1992 to 2011. Pine Island Glacier retreated 31 km at its center, with most retreat in 2005–2009 when the glacier un-grounded from its ice plain. Thwaites Glacier retreated 14 km along its fast-flow core and 1 to 9 km along the sides. Haynes Glacier retreated 10 km along its flanks. Smith/Kohler glaciers retreated the most, 35 km along its ice plain, and its ice shelf pinning points are vanishing. These rapid retreats proceed along regions of retrograde bed elevation mapped at a high spatial resolution using a mass conservation technique (MC) that removes residual ambiguities from prior mappings. Upstream of the 2011 grounding line positions, we find no major bed obstacle that would prevent the glaciers from further retreat and draw down the entire basin.

2. Ian Joughin, Benjamin E. Smith and Brooke Medley,  Marine Ice Sheet Collapse Potentially Underway for the Thwaites Glacier Basin, West AntarcticaScience,     DOI: 10.1126/science.1249055

Abstract: Resting atop a deep marine basin, the West Antarctic Ice Sheet has long been considered prone to instability. Using a numerical model, we investigate the sensitivity of Thwaites Glacier to ocean melt and whether unstable retreat is already underway. Our model reproduces observed losses when forced with ocean melt comparable to estimates. Simulated losses are moderate (<0.25 mm per year sea level) over the 21st Century, but generally increase thereafter. Except possibly for the lowest-melt scenario, the simulations indicate early-stage collapse has begun. Less certain is the timescale, with onset of rapid (> 1 mm per year of sea-level rise) collapse for the different simulations within the range of two to nine centuries.


The Antarctic glaciers may well be retreating (as glaciers are often wont to do), but Antarctic ice cover is at an all time high and the processes being forecast are being projected over millenia. And there is absolutely no evidence that these processes have anything whatever to do with any man-made effects. That connection is inferred  or assumed.

Related: The Guardian’s Suzanne Goldenberg jumps the shark again – gets called out by NYT


Turney’s tourists return

January 22, 2014


Climate Audit points out:

The Sydney Morning Herald account adds the remarkable claim that Turney took more passengers into the field even after the evacuation notice had been issued:

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.


Turney and his tourists from the Ship of Fools have returned.

The BBC covers the return.

But there are still unanswered questions as to who will pay for the expensive international rescue mission. The Aurora Australis had to suspend a resupply mission to Australia’s permanent base in the Antarctic, Casey Station, to take part in the rescue.

The Sydney Morning Herald has a long and – for them – unusually questioning article about the fiasco.

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

This account has been reconstructed from interviews with members of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition 2013/14, most of whom wished to remain anonymous, who witnessed events or overheard conversations, and the report the voyage leader, Greg Mortimer, submitted to IAATO.

Mortimer declined to comment on his report.

The Shokalskiy’s captain, Igor Kielev, did not respond to Fairfax Media’s emails.

Chris Turney and Chris Fogwill, the expedition leaders, also declined to comment on specific questions regarding events on December 23.

Nicky Phillips and Colin Cosier travelled on board the Aurora Australis as part of the Australian Antarctic Division’s media fellowship program.

Amazingly, Chris Turney gets an award for “contributing to the understanding natural phenomena”. I suppose it’s a case of rewarding the Fool Who Rushed In!!


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.

Turney faces the wrath of the Global Warming Inquisition

January 16, 2014

The fallout from the Ship of Fools continues and the Global Warming Establishment is turning on Chris Turney and his tourists.

Last week National Geographic distanced themselves from the Ship of Fools. Now even Nature is turning. They first published an article by Turney defending his jaunt into the Antarctic. But they quickly realised that supporting Turney was untenable. Now, not just one but two articles in Nature (here and here): 

Turney's tourists

Turney’s tourists

Turney again

Turney again

The Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) has added its voice to the growing criticism of a stricken private polar expedition by challenging claims that it approved the research element of the trip.

On page 291 of this issue, Nick Gales, chief scientist of the AAD, which is based in Kingston, Tasmania, responds to an earlier Nature column by expedition head Chris Turney of the University of New South Wales (see Nature 505, 133; 2014). Turney’s Australasian Antarctic Expedition aimed to retrace the steps of explorer Douglas Mawson, who led an outing a century ago. But members of Turney’s expedition had to be rescued from their ship, the MV Akademik Shokalskiy, after it became trapped in ice at Christmas, adding fuel to a debate about the merits of such privately funded trips. 

Gales challenges Turney’s implicit suggestion that the AAD had approved the expedition’s science plan. The AAD did not formally review the research strategy, Gales notes, but had issued the permits required for Turney’s group to visit the region in which it got stuck. “It’s an important distinction for us,” says Gales. He adds that the expedition’s rescue has delayed several projects in Australia’s national Antarctic programme that have been many years in the planning. ……

There can be few things worse for a scientist than being accused that “science was not well served” by his efforts!! And that too by his own faction.

Climate Audit has a good account of the follies of the Ship of Fools.

I get the impression that Turney is going to face the full rigour of the Global Warming Inquisition. He may not be burnt at the stake but he may be thrown under a bus or two!

Turney’s tourists: the heroes who weren’t

January 9, 2014

Turney’s tourists on his Ship of Fools are severely taken to task by David Roberts in the National Geographic. They see themselves as heroes. But they were just a bunch of spoilt dilettantes who were out on a frivolous lark of no scientific significance. Douglas Mawson will be spinning in his grave.

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. 

They recorded a New Year’s Eve sing-along for YouTube and chatted about yoga classes and knot-tying lessons to while away the time.

On their Spirit of Mawson expedition blog, one passenger signed off on December 28: “It’s Saturday and it’s bar-time (bar opens at 6 pm), so I am going to leave it here.”

They even seemed to relish their crisis. The BBC quoted Tracy Rogers, the team’s marine ecologist, as saying, “It’s fantastic—I love it when the ice wins and we don’t. It reminds you that as humans, we don’t control everything … We’ve got several penguins watching us, thinking ‘What the hell are you doing stuck in our ice?’ The sky is a beautiful grey—it looks like it wants to have a bit of a snow. It’s the perfect Christmas, really.”

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. ….

Perversely, for the general public, the hapless passengers seemed to emerge as the heroes of the story, even though they did nothing but twiddle their thumbs and wait for the Chinese icebreaker Xue Long to come to their rescue, which ended by trapping the much bigger vessel in the ice. The U.S. sent another icebreaker, the U.S. Polar Star, to rescueXue Long and Shokalskiy, but that mission was recently called off when the ships were able to break free from the ice. …..

…… The whole expedition, these experts implied, amounted to a “frivolous” lark that added almost nothing to our knowledge of the southern continent. …

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.

“It seems unlikely that the dilettantes who signed up for AAE 2013-14 would soon fork over the funds to pay for their perilous and expensive rescue. They’re still too busy congratulating themselves.

The Akademik Shokalskiy and the Xue Long got free of the ice 5 days after Turney’s tourists abandoned ship. Why the tourists needed to be rescued is still a mystery. Presumably the booze had run out.

Nature/Turney defend the Ship of Fools and their Antarctic pleasure cruise

January 7, 2014

Chris Turney, his global warming pilgrims (called scientists), his pet journalists and his tourists are due to reach Tasmania on 22nd January after being “rescued” (from what?) after their chartered ship Akademik Shokalskiy (ice-strengthened but no icebreaker) was trapped in the Antarctic ice on December 24th.

Nature (much to their discredit) have hurriedly published a defence by Chris Turney of his tourist trip on his Ship of Fools.  It amazes me that Nature would – so quickly – publish such an obviously self-serving and narcissistic article. Almost as if they had a higher agenda of defending the larger global warming community so grievously opened up to ridicule by Turney and his tourists.

“It was no pleasure cruise” he whines (though he seems to have taken his family along for this jaunt). He claims the ship was an icebreaker – which it was not – and that the event could not have been anticipated  – which it could. He claims to have advanced the frontiers of science – which is mere hyperbole. He even tries to take credit for rekindling public interest! 

“… the value of our expedition must be judged by the quality of the research it always intended to produce, and the remarkable rekindling of public interest in science and exploration that has come with it”.

But his attempt to salvage something from his PR disaster does not go down well judging by some of the comments that his self-serving “defence” elicits:

Roger Corbett 2014-01-07 04:46 AM

How does a couple of hours shoveling snow to get inside Mawson’s Huts reported at the time by Professor Turney become “important conservation work” a few days later? When he is trying to boost the scientific credentials of a tourism exercise. When you are in a hole, stop digging. These little exaggerations add up to make it hard to believe the bigger things. “Never before has a science expedition reached out live to so many people from such a remote location”….er, “one small step for a man…” It’s a definite pattern in the accounts coming from the AAE-2 people. Reading as much as I can, I conclude that the tourism activities delayed return to the ship, despite increasing concern from the ship’s Master. The claims that the weather closed in so suddenly and unexpectedly by Professor Turney are exaggerated (like so many things he says and writes), either to deliberately deflect from his responsibilities as tour leader, or because ego doesn’t allow him to admit it even to himself.

Charles Rotter 2014-01-07 12:41 AM

…  I have been following the writings of the various blogs documenting this trip, and as far as I can tell, the only scientific discovery/conclusion/finding you have documented so far is that, if the food source for a population of penguins becomes much harder to reach due to added physical obstacles, then that penguin population will probably reduce in number. I am in awe at this insight.

Richard Tol 2014-01-06 04:09 PM

The way it turned out, this was indeed no pleasure cruise. At the same time, Chris Turney has yet to answer questions about the research purpose of this expedition. The Spirit of Mawson website is vague and many of the aims listed there cannot be achieved by a single, short trip. The successes listed above are from the first leg of the trip, rather than from the now-infamous second leg. If the second leg aimed to launch Argo floats, why did it sail on? And why were there so many people on board? There were 18 PhD students on the expedition. Only 6 have a research connection with Antarctica (the other 12 studying the North Atlantic, Australia’s coastal waters, brain injury, Iceland, New Zealand’s North Island, urban climates, pedagogy, the Equatorial Undercurrent, pharmaceuticals, time series statistics, microbiology, and Siberia), but only one of those has an obvious reason to visit Mawson’s Huts and even she would have collected more data in the same time had she flown there. Forgive me for asking, what research purposes were served by this expedition? Was this really the best way to spend the available funds?

Consequences of Turney’s Antarctic junket are not yet over

January 5, 2014

The Xuelong is thought to have 111 crew on board while the Akademik Shokalskiy has 22. They are both currently trapped in the ice and the US icebreaker Polar Star is on its way from Sydney to render assistance if necessary. It will take the Polar Star about 7 days to reach the vicinity of the trapped vessels.

Cnut commanding the waves

Cnut commanding the waves

The consequences of Chris Turney’s narcissistic self-image of himself as an explorer in the Mawson mould and his irresponsible, publicity-seeking, junket into the Antarctic are not yet over. His proclamation that the ice should have melted away is reminiscent of King Cnut. Or perhaps like Cnut trying to demonstrate his limitations he was trying to demonstrate the fallibility of climate models which predict the loss of polar ice (and models such as that by his colleague Sherwood). It would be a travesty if the cost of diverting the 4 icebreakers (Chinese, French, Australian and now US) from their normal missions is not charged to Turney, the Climate Change Research Centre of the University of New South Wales and his media sponsors.

Xinhua reports:

BEIJING, Jan. 4 (Xinhua) — China has set up a leading team to rescue its icebreaker Xuelong, or Snow Dragon, which has been trapped by heavy floes since it rescued passengers on a Russian vessel stranded in Antarctica on Thursday.

The State Oceanic Administration (SOA) announced on Saturday the team will map out rescue plans and make “all-out efforts” to coordinate rescue operations, despite there is no immediate danger to personnel aboard Xuelong, which has abundant fuel and food supplies. …. 

Xueying 12, a helicopter on board Xuelong, on Thursday successfully evacuated all the 52 passengers aboard the Russian vessel MV Akademik Shokalskiy that has been stranded since Christmas Eve to the Australian icebreaker Aurora Australis.

However, after the rescue, Xuelong’s own movement was blocked by fields of floating ice.

Currently, Xuelong is located at 66.65 degrees south latitude and 144.42 degrees east longitude. It is surrounded by floes up to four meters thick and is about 21 km away from unfrozen waters, according to the SOA.

Qu Tanzhou, director of the State Oceanic Administration’s Chinese Arctic and Antarctic Administration, said the planned expedition by Xuelong is inevitably affected and changes are expected to be made to the vessel’s mission after it gets out of trouble.

“If the ship is stranded for a very long time, which is very rare indeed, then we’ll have to evacuate the people onboard and leave the vessel there,” he said.

AMSA Press Release:

6.30am AEDT Sunday 05 January 2014

US Coast Guard ice breaker to assist ships beset in ice in Antarctica

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC Australia) has requested the US Coast Guard’s Polar Star icebreaker to assist the vessels MV Akademik Shokalskiy and Xue Long which are beset by ice in Commonwealth Bay.
The US Coast Guard has accepted this request and will make Polar Star available to assist.
The Polar Star has been en route to Antarctica since 3 December, 2013 – weeks prior to the MV
Akademik Shokalskiy being beset by ice in Commonwealth Bay. The intended mission of the Polar Star is to clear a navigable shipping channel in McMurdo Sound to the National Science Foundation’s Scientific Research Station. Resupply ships use the channel to bring food, fuel and other goods to the station. The Polar Star will go on to undertake its mission once the search and rescue incident is resolved.
RCC Australia identified the Polar Star as a vessel capable of assisting the beset vessels following MV Akademik Shokalskiy being beset by ice overnight on 24 December, 2013. RCC Australia has been in discussion with the US Coast Guard this week to ascertain if the Polar Star was able to assist once it reaches Antarctica.
The request for the Polar Star to assist the beset vessels was made by RCC Australia to the US Coast Guard on 3 January, 2014. The US Coast Guard officially accepted this request and released the Polar Star to RCC Australia for search and rescue tasking at 8.30am on 4 January, 2014.
The Polar Star will leave Sydney today after taking on supplies prior to its voyage to Antarctica.
It is anticipated it will take approximately seven (7) days for the Polar Star to reach Commonwealth Bay, dependent on weather and ice conditions.
At 122 metres, the Polar Star is one of the largest ships in the US Coast Guard fleet. It has a range of 16,000 nautical miles at 18 knots. The Polar Star has a crew of 140 people.
The Polar Star is able to continuously break ice up to 1.8 metres (6ft) while travelling at three (3) knots and can break ice over six (21ft) metres thick.
RCC Australia will be in regular contact with the relevant US Coast Guard RCC at Alameda, California, and the Captain of the Polar Star during its journey to Antarctica.

How Mawson met the Antarctic challenge 100 years ago

January 2, 2014

This comment by a reader about an earlier post is being elevated to be a post in its own right.

The Smithsonian also has an article titled: The Most Terrible Polar Exploration Ever: Douglas Mawson’s Antarctic Journey. 

Douglas Mawson, leader and sole survivor of the Far Eastern Sledge Party, in 1913. Photo: Wikicommons.

By Darryl Ware

What a bunch of wusses! Sir Douglas Mawson must be rotating in his tomb on learning of how the whole fey mob of “intrepid adventurers” suddenly ditch their goal of commemorating Mawson’s spirit, and prepare to helibandon the whole “expedition” and scurry home to Mum.

Good god! I mean, just look at the difference between the original Mawson and these arrivistes when faced with Antarctic adversity.

Here’s how Mawson met the challenge 100 years ago. Note the difference in attitude and resolve.

They were 31 men at the bottom of the world exploring uncharted territory. What followed was one of the most terrifying survival stories of all time.

Mawson heard the faint whine of a dog behind him. It must be, he thought, one of the six huskies pulling the rear sledge. But then Mertz, who had been scouting ahead on skis all morning, stopped and turned in his tracks. Mawson saw his look of alarm. He turned and looked back. The featureless plateau of snow and ice stretched into the distance, marked only by the tracks Mawson’s sledge had left. Where was the other sledge? Mawson rushed on foot back along the tracks. Suddenly he came to the edge of a gaping hole in the surface, 11 feet wide. On the far side, two separate sledge tracks led up to the hole; on the near side, only one led away.

It was December 14, 1912. Thirty years old, already a seasoned explorer, Douglas Mawson was the leader of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE), a 31-man team pursuing the most ambitious exploration yet of the southern continent. Let Scott and Amundsen race for the South Pole. Mawson was determined to discover everything he could about a 2,000-mile-long swath of Antarctica that was terra incognita, and to wring from it the best scientific results—in terms of geology, meteorology, magnetism, biology, atmospheric science, and glaciology—ever obtained on a polar journey. Having built a hut on the shore of a cove they named Commonwealth Bay, the men of the AAE had wintered over in what was later proven to be the windiest place on Earth (at least at sea level), with gusts up to 200 mph. At times, the gales were so strong they knocked the men off their feet and sent them sliding across the ice.

Setting out in November 1912, Mawson’s sledging party was one of eight three-man teams sent off on journeys in all possible directions. For his own Far Eastern Party, he chose 29-year-old Swiss ski champion Xavier Mertz and 25-year-old Belgrave Ninnis, an eager, likeable Englishman serving in the Royal Fusiliers. Hoping to connect the unmapped interior with the heights of far-off Oates Land, discovered by Robert Falcon Scott’s party only the year before, Mawson was bent on making the deepest push of all into the unknown.

By the morning of December 14, 35 days out, the trio had reached a point nearly 300 miles from the hut. The men had crossed two major glaciers and scores of hidden crevasses—deep fissures in the ice camouflaged by thin snowbridges. Just after noon that day, Mertz had held up his ski pole, signalling yet another crevasse. Mawson judged it to be only a minor nuisance, as his sledge glided smoothly across the bridge. He called out the usual warning to Ninnis, and, in a last glance back, saw that his teammate had corrected his path to cross the crevasse head-on rather than diagonally.

Now Mawson and Mertz cut away the fragile lip of the open crevasse, roped up, and took turns leaning over the abyss. What they saw appalled them. One hundred fifty feet down, a husky lay moaning on a snow shelf, its back evidently broken. Another dog, apparently dead, lay beside it. A few pieces of gear lay scattered on the same shelf. There was no sign of Ninnis or the sledge. For three hours, Mawson and Mertz called into the depths, hoping against hope for an answering cry. They had far too little rope to lower themselves into the crevasse to search for their companion. At last they accepted the inevitable. Ninnis was dead. Gone with him were the team’s most valuable gear, including their three-man tent, the six best huskies, all the food for the dogs, and nearly all the men’s food.

The two men might have perished the first night if they hadn’t improvised a shelter. With the temperature just above 0°F, they pitched a spare tent cover over a frame concocted of sledge runners and Mertz’s skis. Inside this gloomy cave, they laid their reindeer-skin sleeping bags directly on the snow. So cramped and flimsy was their “tent” that only one man could move at a time, and neither could rise higher than a sitting position.

In the first days of their homeward dash, driven by adrenaline, they made excellent mileage. But during the next two weeks, the dogs gave out one by one. When George, then Johnson, then Mary could no longer pull, they were loaded on the sledge and carried to that night’s camp, where the men shot them with the rifle. Desperate to hoard their tiny supplies of pemmican, biscuits, raisins, and cocoa, the men ate the tough, stringy dog meat, then threw the bones and skin to the remaining huskies, which fought ravenously over every scrap.

Navigating with a theodolite and dead reckoning, Mawson steered a homeward course as much as 25 miles south of their outward track, hoping to skirt the worst of the crevasses and the heads of the two big glaciers. He tried to bolster his partner’s spirits, promising him a safe return to Australia. At 1 a.m. on December 25, Mawson woke Mertz to wish him a merry Christmas. “I hope to live to share many merry Christmases with my friend Mawson,” Mertz wrote in his diary.

By now, only Ginger, the pluckiest of the surviving dogs, could haul. The two men put on their chest-and-hip harnesses and pulled the sledge alongside her, exhausting themselves after only a few miles’ run. Crossing wind-carved ridges of hard snow known as sastrugi as high as three and a half feet, they repeatedly fell down and often capsized the sledge. To save weight, they threw away gear—their alpine rope, the rifle, the extra sledge runners, and, most painfully, Mawson’s camera and the film packs that held the visual record of the trio’s pioneering journey.

Something was wrong with Mertz. He was rapidly losing strength. Too weak to move on January 2, he could manage only five miles the next day before giving up, forcing Mawson to pitch the tent. In disbelief that his fingers had been frostbitten, Mertz surprised Mawson by biting off the tip of one. Mawson knew that their only hope was to keep moving, but on January 5, Mertz refused. It would be suicide, he said.

Though racked with pain himself, Mawson persuaded Mertz to ride the sledge. Summoning extraordinary powers, Mawson pulled the terrible load by himself for two and a half miles. In his diary that night, he wrote, “If he cannot go on 8 or 10 m[iles] a day, in a day or two we are doomed. I could pull through myself with the provisions at hand but I cannot leave him.”

By January 7, the men had covered some 200 miles of their return trek, with 100 still to go. But as they tried to pack up that morning, Mawson discovered that his teammate had “fouled his pants.” As a nurse might tend a baby, Mawson undressed Mertz, cleaned up the mess, and put him back in his sleeping bag. That afternoon, he tried to lift Mertz to a sitting position to drink cocoa and weak beef broth, but the man started raving deliriously and again soiled himself. At 8 p.m., Mertz pulled himself half out of his sleeping bag and flailed about in a wild frenzy, breaking one of the tent poles. For hours he raved in German. Mawson held him down, hoping to calm him, then stuffed him back into his bag. At 2 a.m. on January 8, Mertz died in his sleep.

Mawson buried his friend, still in the sleeping bag, beneath a mound of snow blocks atop which he fixed a rude cross made of discarded sledge runners. Many years later, some researchers speculated that Mertz’s debilitation was caused by poisonous overdoses of vitamin A from the huskies’ livers. But if so, why did the condition affect Mertz so much more drastically than it did Mawson? Other experts suggested that Mertz’s collapse was due simply to hypothermia, overexertion, and near starvation. Whatever its cause, Mertz’s death now threatened Mawson’s survival as well. The food was almost gone, and his own physical state was deplorable, with open sores on his nose, lips, and scrotum; his hair coming out in clumps; and skin peeling off his legs. And he still had a hundred miles to go. “I am afraid it has cooked my chances altogether,” Mawson wrote in his diary. But he added, “I shall do my utmost to the last.”

Using only the serrated blade of his knife, he cut the sledge in half. Then he fashioned a makeshift sail by sewing Mertz’s jacket to a cloth bag. Three days after Mertz’s death, Mawson discovered to his horror that the soles of his feet had completely detached from the skin beneath them, which spurted pus and blood. He taped the dead soles to his feet, and put on six pairs of wool socks. Every step thereafter was an agony.

Mawson was now in a race against time, as well as miles. The expedition’s relief ship Aurora was scheduled to arrive at Commonwealth Bay on January 15 to pick up the men and steam toward home in Australia. But as the days ticked by, Mawson was still more than 80 miles from the hut, and he was growing weaker by the hour.

One day, ploughing through deep snow, he broke through a snowbridge covering a hidden crevasse. Suddenly he was falling unchecked through space. Then a fierce jolt halted his plunge. The 14-foot harness rope attaching him to the sledge had held, but now Mawson was sure that his weight would pull the sledge in on top of him. He thought, So this is the end. Miraculously, the sledge stuck fast in the deep snow, anchoring him. But as his eyes adjusted to the semidarkness, Mawson saw how hopeless his predicament was. He dangled free in space, the crevasse walls too far away to reach even with the wild swing of a boot. His first thought came as a searing regret that he had not had the chance to eat the last ounces of his food before he died.

His only chance to escape was to pull himself hand over hand up the harness rope. Providentially, he had tied knots in the rope at regular intervals. He seized the first knot and pulled himself upward, then lunged for the next. Even for a fit, healthy man, such a feat would have been barely possible; yet Mawson pulled, rested, and lunged again. He reached the lip of the crevasse and tried to roll onto the surface above.

That effort broke loose the overhanging lip. Mawson fell all the way to the end of his harness rope. Despair overwhelmed him. He pondered slipping out of the harness to plunge to the bottom of the crevasse, ending things at once rather than by strangling or slowly freezing. At that moment, a verse from his favorite poet, Robert Service, flashed through his mind: “Just have one more try—it’s dead easy to die, / It’s the keeping-on-living that’s hard.” The words spurred him to “one last tremendous effort.” As he reached the lip, he thrust his legs out first, then pulled the rest of his body free from the crevasse. He rolled over and passed out, waking an hour or two later to find his body covered with a dusting of new-fallen snow.

Mawson was now convinced he had no chance to survive. Besides, the deadline to reach the hut had come and gone. For all he knew, the Aurora had steamed away with all the other AAE hands on board. What drove him onward was the hope of leaving his diary, along with Mertz’s, in a place where searchers might eventually find them and learn the story of the doomed Far Eastern Party.

Yet on January 29 a minor miracle occurred. Just north of his track, Mawson saw something dark loom through the haze. It was a snow cairn covered with a black cloth. Inside, he found a message from three teammates who had been out searching and a bag of food—blessed food! From the note, Mawson learned that he stood only 28 miles from the hut. It would take him ten days to cover that short distance, as he waited out a prolonged blizzard. At last, on February 8, he began the last descent. Before he could see the hut, he caught sight of a distant speck on the horizon. As he feared, it was the Aurora, leaving Commonwealth Bay for good. Was he alone? Then the hut sprang into view, and outside it, three men working at some task. Mawson stopped in his tracks and waved for 30 seconds. The men were too far away to hear his shouts. At last one of them glanced up and saw the apparition on the horizon.

Mawson had missed catching the Aurora by a mere five hours. Instead, he and six men deputized to stay on to search for Mawson’s party were condemned to spend another year in the windiest place on Earth. Now the men at the hut rushed up the icy slope to embrace their leader. The first to arrive was Frank Bickerton, a stalwart 24-year-old British engineer who had been in charge of another of the exploring parties. From 50 yards off, Mawson recognized Bickerton. And from the startled look on Bickerton’s face as he beheld the gaunt, ravaged countenance of the man staggering toward him, he knew exactly what Bickerton was thinking: Which one are you?

Another ten months passed before the Aurora returned. When Mawson finally reached Australia in February 1914, he was greeted as a national hero and knighted by King George V. He spent the rest of his career as a professor at the University of Adelaide. Although he would lead two more Antarctic expeditions, his life’s work became the production of 96 published reports that embodied the scientific results of the AAE.

Updates on the Antarctic global warming pilgrimage

January 1, 2014

Chris Turney and his warmists thought the globe was sweltering,
To the Antarctic they sailed to prove that the poles were melting,
But to their great surprise,
They got stuck in the ice,
But they had a festive time on board and got on with their drinking.

UPDATE 2: A Chinese helicopter arrived close to the vessel, bringing in a crew to assess the landing situation. The aircraft is expected to return within the hour to begin ferrying the first passengers out to another vessel.

The Chinese helicopter has arrived @ the Shokalskiy. It’s 100% we’re off! A huge thanks to all. …

Update 1: Thursday, 2nd January

The Guardian: The latest rescue mission for scientists, tourists and journalists on a ship trapped in ice off Antarctica has again been postponed.

two-stage rescue had been planned for Thursday with a helicopter rescuing 52 of the passengers on Akademik Shokalskiy and taking them to the Chinese ship Xue Long before transferring them to another ship, Aurora Australis, on a barge in a 36-hour window of decent weather.

However, sea ice has prevented the barge from the Aurora Australis, where the passengers would ultimately be transferred, being able to get close to Xue Long.

The helicopter component of the rescue was to consist of seven 45-minute round trips to collect 12 passengers at a time and then their equipment and luggage.

AMSA Release: The Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s (AMSA) Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC Australia) has been advised this morning that sea ice conditions in the area are likely to delay today’s planned rescue of passengers from the MV Akademik Shokalskiy. AMSA understands that current sea ice conditions prevent the barge from Aurora Australis from reaching the Chinese vessel Xue Long (Snow Dragon) and a rescue may not be possible today. 

The Xue Long’s helicopter is unable to land on the Aurora Australis due to load rating restrictions. It is not safe to land the helicopter next to Aurora Australis at this time. The preferred and safest option at this stage is to ultimately transfer the passengers onto Aurora Australis. …. 


These “climate scientists” and hangers-on set out to demonstrate that the poles were melting.

Instead they have been stuck in the Antarctic ice for eight days now. Today the helicopter rescue of the climate scientists and their tame journalists who want to abandon ship was aborted because of bad weather. Their denials that the purpose was to demonstrate global warming sound very hollow:

It is also a bit rich now for expedition organisers to say they did not have climate change in mind when the trip was conceived. Promotional material says the expedition’s aim was to “discover and communicate the changes taking place in this remote and pristine environment”.

Outlining the science case, the expedition says: “Three years’ worth of observations gleaned by Mawson and his men provide a unique dataset against which we can compare the changes seen today. “Policy documents highlight numerous science questions that need to be urgently addressed across the region. And yet, despite of a century of research, major questions remain about whether the changes seen today are exceptional.”

The expedition notes say the East Antarctic Ice Sheet contains enough fresh water to raise the world’s sea level by about 52m.

The US icebreaker Polar Star (which can plow through ice 6m thick) could reach the trapped ship in about 8 days but as Anthony Watts points out the forecast winds could allow the ship to get free also in about 8 days.

As Real Science puts it

Only A Complete Moron Would Attempt To Take A Ship To The Coast Of Antarctica Under These Conditions.

They do not seem to be in any immediate danger – these scientists on their Ship of Fools.They seem to have celebrated Christmas and the New Year with great gusto and spirit! And their alcohol consumption is – of course – only to keep the cold out.

Another unverifiable doomsday model predicts 4°C rise by 2100

December 31, 2013

What must first be noted is that the lead author, Steve Sherwood,  is from the Climate Change Research Centre, University of New South Wales and is a colleague of Chris Turney – the global warming cheer-leader currently stuck in the Antarctic ice. The paper is largely unfounded speculation – no evidence or measurements in sight –  but speculation alarmist enough for Nature to publish it. The paper – according to the Nature Editor

offers an explanation for the long-standing uncertainty in predictions of global warming derived from climate models. Uncertainties in predicted climate sensitivity — the magnitude of global warming due to an external influence — range from 1.5° C to 5° C for a doubling of atmospheric CO2. It has been assumed that uncertainties in cloud simulations are at the root of the model disparities, and here Steven Sherwood et al. examine the output of 43 climate models and demonstrate that about half of the total uncertainty in climate sensitivity can be traced to the varying treatment of mixing between the lower and middle troposphere — and mostly in the tropics. When constrained by observations, the authors’ modelling suggests that climate sensitivity is likely to exceed 3° C rather than the currently estimated lower limit of 1.5° C, thereby constraining model projections towards more severe future warming.

Clouds are not well understood it seems but they are the answer!

The time-scale for their predictions – till 2100 is sufficiently far away that nothing can be confirmed or denied.

Presumably Sherwood was one of those advising the pilgrims trapped in the Antarctic.

Spread in model climate sensitivity traced to atmospheric convective mixing, Steven C. Sherwood, Sandrine Bony & Jean-Louis Dufresne, Nature 505, 37–42, doi:10.1038/nature12829

Abstract:Equilibrium climate sensitivity refers to the ultimate change in global mean temperature in response to a change in external forcing. Despite decades of research attempting to narrow uncertainties, equilibrium climate sensitivity estimates from climate models still span roughly 1.5 to 5 degrees Celsius for a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration, precluding accurate projections of future climate. The spread arises largely from differences in the feedback from low clouds, for reasons not yet understood. Here we show that differences in the simulated strength of convective mixing between the lower and middle tropical troposphere explain about half of the variance in climate sensitivity estimated by 43 climate models. The apparent mechanism is that such mixing dehydrates the low-cloud layer at a rate that increases as the climate warms, and this rate of increase depends on the initial mixing strength, linking the mixing to cloud feedback. The mixing inferred from observations appears to be sufficiently strong to imply a climate sensitivity of more than 3 degrees for a doubling of carbon dioxide. This is significantly higher than the currently accepted lower bound of 1.5 degrees, thereby constraining model projections towards relatively severe future warming.

It all smacks of post-rationalisation.

Garbage In Garbage Out.

Trapped in the Antarctic ice: Global warming tourists/pilgrims posing as scientists

December 29, 2013

Irony upon irony.

A global warming pilgrimage deserted by their gods.

A climate change opportunist named Turney,

Was the tour guide for an Antarctic journey,

He trapped in the Ice his environmental tourists,

and diverse other journalists and warmists,

For the ice had little time for his dumb theory.

The Antarctic saga continues.

A fossil fuelled cruise ship trapped by heretical Antarctic ice, waiting to be rescued by other fossil fuelled ice breakers or even fossil fuelled aircraft!

Who will pay – I wonder – for the rescue of these pilgrims of the global warming religion?

The Players:

BBC: Antarctic ship: New bid to free vessel trapped in ice

An Australian vessel is en route to East Antarctica in a renewed bid to free a scientific mission ship trapped in dense pack ice since Tuesday.

Earlier rescue attempts by Chinese and French icebreakers were foiled by the thick ice.

However, a BBC correspondent on the Russian research vessel says big cracks have appeared, raising hopes that it may even be able to move on its own.

Seventy-four scientists, tourists and crew are on the Academician Shokalskiy.

The Guardian: Icebound Antarctic passengers face air rescue if ship cannot reach them soon

The arriving icebreaker Aurora Australis is the last chance to open up a passage to open water for Akademik Shokalskiy. 

Passengers aboard the Akademik Shokalskiy, the ship stuck in ice off the coast of Antarctica since Christmas Day, were told on Sunday morning they would have to be evacuated by air if icebreaker ships could not get to them within 48 hours.

The Russian-operated ship has about 50 passengers – including scientists and paying members of the public – and 20 crew on board. It became stuck in the ice near Cape de la Motte in east Antarctica, abouit 1,500 nautical miles from Hobart in Tasmania, after strong blizzards hit the vessel on Christmas Eve. Surrounding pack ice was pushed by strong winds against the Antarctic landmass, pinning the Shokalskiy in place.

On Friday, the Chinese icebreaker Xue Long tried to battle through the thick ice towards the Shokalskiy but had to turn back after 12 hours and within 8.5 nautical miles of the Russian vessel, because the going was too difficult. The Aurora Australis will arrive at the edge of the sea ice, which is about 20 nautical miles from the Russian ship, in the early hours of Monday local time (about 1pm Sunday GMT).

“What we’re depending on is the extra grunt of the Aurora Australis,” said Greg Mortimer, co-leader of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE), which has chartered the ship. “It’s a more traditional icebreaker hull, which is like a bathtub with a big engine inside it – it can push over the ice and lay down on top and work its way like that.”

This handout image released by the Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science at the University of New South Wales and taken by Andrew Peacock of shows the ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy trapped in the ice at sea off Antarctica (27 December 2013)

Tourists pretending to be scientists (image BBC)

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