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CCNet 02/01/14

Ship Of (Cold) Fools Rescued At Last

An Icy Blast Of Scepticism Greets Climate Expedition



 
 
Rescuers in Antarctica have safely transferred all 52 passengers stranded on the ice-bound research vessel Akademik Shokalskiy. The Shokalskiy has been trapped since Christmas Eve. Its 22 crew are expected to remain on board to wait until the vessel becomes free. The ice-bound research vessel has been trapped since Christmas Eve. One of the aims is to track how quickly the Antarctic's sea ice is disappearing. --BBC News, 2 January 2014
 
 
 
 
Reporting on the environmental movement has always required a certain sense of humor. In an earlier age, explorers who so badly underestimated the expanse of polar ice would surely have perished. But the 74 passengers and crew of the Akademik Shokalskiy are thriving. In this season of new beginnings we have here a chance to appreciate the amazing technologies created by free people. For they allow us to laugh at the folly of our fellow humans, rather than having to mourn their passing. --Editorial, The Wall Street Journal, 2 January 2014
 


The aim of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, led by Chris Turney of the University of NSW, was to prove the East Antarctic ice sheet is melting. Its website spoke alarmingly of “an increasing body of evidence” showing “melting and collapse from ocean warming”. As they are transferred to sanctuary aboard the icebreaker Aurora Australis, Professor Turney and his fellow evacuees must accept the embarrassing failure of their mission shows how uncertain the science of climate change really is. They cannot reasonably do otherwise. --
Editorial, The Australian, 2 January 2013

 
 
 
 


Climate scientist Chris Turney’s team of embedded global media and paying science-minded tourists has spent the festive season trapped in sea ice instead of exploring what melting ice caps mean for mankind. Turney is lamenting that he has become trapped in his own experiment. But the bottom line is, once again, nature has drifted from the script. Unfortunately for Turney the take-out of the mission for a legion of sceptical bloggers worldwide has been “global warming scientists forced to admit defeat because of too much ice”. --Graham Lloyd, The Australian, 2 January 2014
 
 

 
Who pays for the rescue of the Akademik Shokalskiy? According to the Age: The operators of a ship stricken in the southern ocean are facing a multimillion-dollar expense bill, as a third vessel began a rescue attempt five days after the tourist ship became trapped in sea ice. Under the Treaty of the Safety of Life at Sea, vessels are required to respond to a distress message, with the costs incurred a matter for the ship owners after the event, the AMSA said. These can include fuel costs, crew costs and loss of revenue. --Paul Homewood, Not A Lot Of People Know That, 30 December 2013
 
 
 

Winter sea ice cover in the Antarctic has grown to its largest extent since satellite records began in the late 1970s, defying most climate models and muddying the waters of the global warming debate. The data runs contrary to the projections of many climate-change models. Scientists appear unable to definitively explain the phenomenon, but believe increasingly strong winds in Antarctica and an increase in rain and snow on the Southern Ocean are the most likely factors. Some fear the findings may fuel climate-change scepticism, given that sea ice is said to be the "canary in the coalmine" of global warming. --Matthew Denholm, The Australian, 24 October 2013
  

 
 
1) Antarctic Rescue Of Trapped Climate Expedition - BBC News, 2 January 2014

2) Stuck On A Ship Of (Cold) Fools - Editorial, The Australian, 2 January 2013

3) Carbon To The Rescue: Fossil Fuels Power Retrieval Of Trapped Climate Scientists - Editorial, The Wall Street Journal, 2 January 2014

4) An Icy Blast Of Scepticism - The Australian, 2 January 2014

5) Expedition On The Cheap? Did Organisers Negligently Put Lives And Property At Risk? - No Tricks Zone, 31 December 2013

6) Who Pays For The Rescue? - Not A Lot Of People Know That, 30 December 2013

7) And Finally: The Cold Reality True Believers Ignored At Their Peril - The Australian, 24 October 2013
 




1) Antarctic Rescue Of Trapped Climate Expedition
BBC News, 2 January 2014

Rescuers in Antarctica have safely transferred all 52 passengers stranded on the ice-bound research vessel Akademik Shokalskiy.


Akademik Shokalskiy rescue, 2 Jan

The Australian rescue operators said the scientists and tourists were now all aboard the ship Aurora Australis.

They were flown there in groups by a helicopter from a Chinese ice-breaker.

The Shokalskiy has been trapped since Christmas Eve. Its 22 crew are expected to remain on board to wait until the vessel becomes free.

The Shokalskiy was trapped by thick sheets of ice driven by strong winds, about 1,500 nautical miles south of Hobart - the capital of the Australian state of Tasmania.

The vessel is being used by the Australasian Antarctic Expedition to follow the route explorer Douglas Mawson travelled a century ago. […]

Despite being trapped, the scientists have continued their experiments, measuring temperature and salinity through cracks in the surrounding ice.

One of the aims is to track how quickly the Antarctic's sea ice is disappearing.

Full story
 

 
2) Stuck On A Ship Of (Cold) Fools
Editorial, The Australian, 2 January 2013

YOU have to feel a touch of sympathy for the global warming scientists, journalists and other hangers-on aboard the Russian ship stuck in impenetrable ice in Antarctica, the mission they so confidently embarked on to establish solid evidence of melting ice caps resulting from climate change embarrassingly abandoned because the ice is, in fact, so impossibly thick.

The aim of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, led by Chris Turney of the University of NSW, was to prove the East Antarctic ice sheet is melting. Its website spoke alarmingly of “an increasing body of evidence” showing “melting and collapse from ocean warming”. Instead, rescue ships and a helicopter, all belching substantial carbon emissions, have had to be mobilised to pluck those aboard the icebreaker MV Akademik Schokalskiy from their plight, stuck in what appears to be, ironically, record amounts of ice for this time of year.

In that lies a hard lesson for those who persistently exaggerate the impact of global warming. We believe in man-made climate change and are no less concerned than others about it. But the cause of sensible policy is ill-served by exaggeration; there is a need for recognition of the science, which shows there are variations in how climate is changing and what the impact is, or will be.

Professor Turney’s expedition was supposed to repeat scientific investigations made by Douglas Mawson a century ago and to compare then and now. Not unreasonably, it has been pointed out Mawson’s ship was never icebound. Sea ice has been steadily increasing, despite the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s gloomy forecasts. Had the expedition found the slightest evidence to confirm its expectation of melting ice caps and thin ice, a major new scare about the plight of the planet would have followed. As they are transferred to sanctuary aboard the icebreaker Aurora Australis, Professor Turney and his fellow evacuees must accept the embarrassing failure of their mission shows how uncertain the science of climate change really is. They cannot reasonably do otherwise.
 

 
 
 


3) Carbon To The Rescue: Fossil Fuels Power Retrieval Of Trapped Climate Scientists
Editorial, The Wall Street Journal, 2 January 2014

Reporting on the environmental movement has always required a certain sense of humor. And now we have an expedition launched in part to study the melting of Antarctic ice sheets that has been trapped since Christmas in ice so thick that rescue attempts have failed to reach the frozen vessel.

In an earlier age, explorers who so badly underestimated the expanse of polar ice would surely have perished. But the 74 passengers and crew of the Akademik Shokalskiy are thriving. An expedition spokesman reports that, "Surprisingly, all the passengers seem to be considering it the adventure of a lifetime."

And why not? The rich abundance of our carbon-based economy has not only provided the means to sustain their lives, but even to post a cheerful sing-along on Youtube. And the helicopters and ships participating in the next rescue attempt aren't powered by renewable-energy credits.

Still, some readers may be concerned about the carbon footprints these eco-tourists will leave behind. Not to worry. These hardy explorers have pledged to plant trees on another continent to offset the carbon they burn now.

In this season of new beginnings we have here a chance to appreciate the amazing technologies created by free people. For they allow us to laugh at the folly of our fellow humans, rather than having to mourn their passing.
 
 


4) An Icy Blast Of Scepticism
The Australian, 2 January 2014

Graham Lloyd

Climate scientist Chris Turney’s team of embedded global media and paying science-minded tourists has spent the festive season trapped in sea ice instead of exploring what melting ice caps mean for mankind. Sceptical bloggers across the world have had a field day with the irony of it all.
 

Grainy film footage from Douglas Mawson’s epic Antarctic survey and expedition provides lasting proof that when the adventurer’s team reached Commonwealth Bay exactly 100 years ago, it was free of sea ice.

It is a historical fact that some people argue can only add to acute embarrassment for Australian climate scientist Chris Turney, the carbon entrepreneur and head of climate science at the University of NSW, whose Antarctic mission has come to a frozen dead stop.

Turney’s team of embedded global media and paying science-minded tourists has spent the festive season trapped in sea ice instead of exploring what melting ice caps mean for mankind.

Rather than disappearing poles, for more than a week global attention has been focused on the fact that in recent years Antarctic ice has been growing, not shrinking as in the Arctic.
Turney is lamenting that he has become trapped in his own experiment.

Sceptical bloggers across the world have had a field day with the irony of it all.

And organisers of the boldly promoted The Spirit of Mawson: Australasian Antarctic Expedition 2013-2014 have been busily discounting the climate-change link to the journey.

Spokesman Alvin Stone tells The Australian that the stranding of their vessel, Akademik Shokalskiy, has been misconstrued.

“One of the misconceptions is that this is a climate-change voyage full of climate scientists, which is actually not true,” he says.

“There are a couple of climate scientists on board, but it is just a scientific expedition and it is quite broad, with biologists, geographers, looking at penguin and seal populations and a whole lot of other things.

“The idea of the expedition was to do a very broad scientific expedition that mimicked what Mawson did, so we were taking the same measurements and extending on what he did as well.”

But as the public relations team back home was remaking the purpose of the journey, the ice-trapped Turney was arguing from the frozen Antarctic that climate change really did explain it all.

“We came to Antarctica to study how one of the biggest icebergs in the world has altered the system by trapping ice.

“We are now ourselves trapped by ice surrounding our ship,” he says.

“Sea ice is disappearing due to climate change, but here ice is building up,” according to a statement from the Australasian Antarctic Expedition. […]

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.

“Until recently it was thought this ice sheet was stable, sitting on the continental crust above today’s sea level,” the notes say.

“However there is an increasing body of evidence, including by the AAE members, that (has) identified parts of the East Antarctic (that) are highly susceptible to melting and collapse from ocean warming.” […]

Unfortunately for Turney the take-out of the mission for a legion of sceptical bloggers worldwide has been “global warming scientists forced to admit defeat because of too much ice”.

The accumulation of ice in Antarctica as ice was lost in the Arctic has been an enduring source of fascination for climate and weather watchers worldwide.

The most recent observation from the National Snow and Ice Data Centre in the US says: “Antarctic sea ice extent remained unusually high, near or above previous daily maximum values for each day in November.”

Sea ice extent averaged 17.16 million square kilometres for November compared with the long-term 1981 to 2010 average extent for the month of 16.30 million square kilometres.

The NASA Earth Observatory said in late September that the ice surrounding Antarctica reached its annual winter maximum and set a new record of 19.47 million square kilometres, up from a previous record of 19.44 million square kilometres set the previous year.

Full story
 
 
 

5) Expedition On The Cheap? Did Organisers Negligently Put Lives And Property At Risk?
No Tricks Zone, 31 December 2013

Pierre Gosselin

With the MS Akademik Shokalskiy research vessel firmly embedded in ice and costs of the mammoth rescue effort mounting, the “scientific” Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE) led by Professor Chris Turney has morphed into a debacle that has put dozens of lives and property at risk. In under-estimating the world’s harshest environment and through slipshod planning and short cuts taken in a bid to keep costs down, expedition organizers may have recklessly and negligently put the lives of the 74 passengers in jeopardy.

 
Antarctic AAE
Source: AAE

The purpose of the AAE expedition was to take a science team of 36 women and men south to discover just how much change has taken place at Mawson Station over 100 years. The expedition was also intended to replicate the original AAE led by explorer Sir Douglas Mawson a century ago, in 1913. The new expedition was to be led by Prof. Chris Turney, a publicity-hungry professor of climate change at Australia’s University of New South Wales.

Also the expedition was designed to generate lots of publicity. Along the scientists and ship’s crew were 4 journalists from leading media outlets who would feed news regularly, and later report extensively on the results and findings. All this in turn would bring loads of attention to a region that is said to be threatened by global warming. The AAE’s donation website even states that the expedition’s purpose is to collect data and that the findings are “to reach the public and policy makers as soon as possible“.

But expeditions of this type are expensive and funding is not always easy to come by. Costs can run in the millions as special equipment is needed to handle the extremely harsh conditions of the South Pole. Downplaying the conditions to justify cost-cutting by using lower grade equipment rapidly jeopardizes safety.

Inadequate, bargain-price research vessel

The first error expedition leaders made was under-estimating the prevailing sea ice conditions at Mawson Station, their destination. The scientists seemed to be convinced that Antarctica was a warmer place today than it had been 100 years earlier, and thus perhaps they could expect less sea ice there. This in turn would allow them to charter a lighter, cheaper vessel. […]

Defying reality, Turney insists Antarctic sea ice is shrinking

Why the vessel got trapped in the first place may be because Turney never bothered to look at sea ice charts, which showed near record high levels of sea ice surrounding Antarctica. Also, Turney even denied that the overall sea ice trend was expanding around the continent. Fox News writes:

Turney said it was ‘silly’ to suggest he and 73 others aboard the MV Akademic Shokalskiy were trapped in ice they’d sought to prove had melted. He remained adamant that sea ice is melting, even as the boat remained trapped in frozen seas.”

Did he expect to find less ice than Mawson did 100 years earlier? This appears to be what he expected, given his expedition’s planning.

Lacked reliable weather forecasting?

Moreover it seems they lacked competent weather forecasting services. Why wasn’t it possible to see the massive sea ice coming? In the harshest environment on the planet one would think expert local weather forecasting is absolutely essential. There was no one on board who could give weather and sea ice forecasts?

Full story
 
 
 
 
6) Who Pays For The Rescue?
Not A Lot Of People Know That, 30 December 2013

By Paul Homewood 

 
image

Who pays for the rescue of the Akademik Shokalskiy? According to the Age:

The operators of a ship stricken in the southern ocean are facing a multimillion-dollar expense bill, as a third vessel began a rescue attempt five days after the tourist ship became trapped in sea ice.

Under the Treaty of the Safety of Life at Sea, vessels are required to respond to a distress message, with the costs incurred a matter for the ship owners after the event, the AMSA said.

These can include fuel costs, crew costs and loss of revenue. 

According to Wiki, the Akademik is owned by the Russian Federation, through the Far Eastern Hydrometeorological Research Institute, Vladivostok. But it has been chartered by the Australasian Antarctic Expedition 2013/14, so it is not clear who will be responsible for the costs. It may depend on the terms of the charter.

The Expedition has been funded by a number of organisations, including:
  • University of NSW
  • Australian Govt Research Council
  • New Zealand Govt – Dept of Conservation
  • University of Exeter (UK)
  • US Antarctic Program
  • University of Waikato
  • University of Wollongong
 
 

 
7) And Finally: The Cold Reality True Believers Ignored At Their Peril
The Australian, 24 October 2013

Matthew Denholm

WINTER sea ice cover in the Antarctic has grown to its largest extent since satellite records began in the late 1970s, defying most climate models and muddying the waters of the global warming debate.
 
Antarctic ice
Source: The Australian

The latest data from NASA's satellites shows the winter sea ice cover around the frozen continent reached a record 19.47 million sq km last month. That beats last winter's 19.44 million sq km -- itself a record.

According to NASA, it is 3.6 per cent higher than the average maximum between 1981 and 2010, with the sea ice cover in Antarctica growing at 1.5 per cent a decade.

The data runs contrary to the projections of many climate-change models. It also contrasts with observations of this year's Arctic summer minimum sea ice extent, which America's National Snow and Ice Data Centre says was about 30 per cent below levels seen in the early 1980s.

Scientists appear unable to definitively explain the phenomenon, but believe increasingly strong winds in Antarctica and an increase in rain and snow on the Southern Ocean are the most likely factors.

Some fear the findings may fuel climate-change scepticism, given that sea ice is said to be the "canary in the coalmine" of global warming.

Full story
 
 
 


 
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