Antarctic ice research … 2015 season

The season’s Antarctic research gets underway, while their supply ship ploughs through thick fast ice and bergs to a position where they can resupply:

Current speed 0.13 (knots)
Distance in last 24 hours 2.6 (nautical miles)
Distance to next waypoint 2.4 (nautical miles)
Weather conditions Sunny. Winds NE 10 kts
Air temperature -6.8 (degrees Celsius)
Sea temperature -1.8 (degrees Celsius)
Sea conditions nil swell
Ice conditions Fast ice and many icebergs
Remarks One of the interesting things about travelling in Antarctica is that plans change quickly so we use the word ‘flexibile’ a lot. You start with a plan and then as situations evolve so does your plan. Yesterday the plan was to fly 10 people from the ship to Davis in preparation to fly to Mawson on a fixed wing aircraft called a twin otter. An aircraft that is regularly used around Antarctica. By 8pm that plan had evolved to include flying 13 people to Davis and an additional helicopter from the ship. Also to sling load six cage pallets of cargo ashore. Sling loading is hooking a long line underneath the helicopter and attaching a piece of cargo eg: cage pallet and flying it under the helicopter.This morning’s operations all went well and we recommence breaking through the ice shortly after midday. We are now down to 48 expeditioners on board having flown off 49 in the last 24 hours.

Mawson and Davis are surrounded by thick ice, which makes the change-over of winter crew to summer, far more difficult.

The image from the bow, stern and port side of the Aurora Australis captures the conditions well:

Webcam image looking from the port side of the Aurora Australis, at 11:00 am ship local time (3:00 pm AEST)

It’s no wonder the Australian Antarctic Research Division is looking for a bigger, stronger, new Icebreaker.

About Tom Harley

Amateur ecologist and horticulturalist and CEO of Kimberley Environmental Horticulture Inc. (Tom Harley)
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