UPDATE: Perhaps the headline was premature, the latest SITREP from the rescue ship Aurora Australis indicates they are having some trouble getting into open water.
UPDATE2: It seems the cause of getting stuck was nothing more than dawdling while sightseeing.
Since the Guardian reporters shown above probably won’t do anything but complain about beds and lack of milkshakes (that video has now been “disappeared”) while writing glowing reports about the “adventure” of it all, it will be left to others to ask the tough questions. Now that they are on their way to Casey Station in Antarctica, Andrew Bolt starts off with these questions. I have a few of my own.
- Who paid for this expedition?
- How did the expedition team come to include Turney’s wife and two young children?
- How serious was this scientific endeavor?
- Was the choice of ship wise, given it is not an icebreaker?
- How did the ship, in these days of satellite imaging, high quality weather forecasts and radar, come to get stuck in ice?
- How much did the rescue cost?
- Who pays for this rescue?
- Why have the ABC and Fairfax media, so keen at first to announce this expedition was to measure the extent and effects of global warming, since omitted that fact from their reports after the expedition became ice-bound?
- Why have all those reports – and the expedition leader himself – neglected to mention that sea ice around Antarctica has increased over the past three decades – and is greater than the ice cover Douglas Mawson found a century ago?
I have these questions:
- Who pays for the trip back to Australia once they get let off at Casey Station?
- How much damage has this fiasco done to real science expeditions in Antarctica, not only from a delayed logistics standpoint, but also from PR standpoint?
- Why did the stranded ship reach out for weather forecasts and data when they should have been equipped for this in the first place?
- Who will be responsible if the ship ends up being stuck in ice permanently or gets its hull crushed and sinks?
- What will be the duties and fate of the crew left behind?
- Who funded the ARGO ATV’s after Turney’s Indiegogo crowdsourcing campaign failed miserably? Do those people get a refund?
- Why would Turney book this ship when it has only the barest of ratings for sea ice?
UL = Ice strengthening notation of the ship (independent navigation in the Arctic in summer and autumn in light ice conditions and in the non-arctic freezing seas all the year round) More on ratings here: http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/icebreakers-class.htm
8. Was Turney mislead about the intensity of the ice by his own beliefs that Antarctic sea ice was melting?
9. Did the sightseeing excursion to Mawson’s Huts on December 19th and again on Dec 23rd (apparently to Mertz Glacier, though their blog and “tracker” are unclear on this point) cause delays that caused the ship to be trapped in rapidly changing weather which closed the sea ice around them?
10. Apparently the crew of the Akademik Shokalskiy spoke next to zero English, did this communications barrier contribute to the situation? Was Turney warned that the weather and wind were changing while the second Mawson’s Huts sightseeing tour was in progress, and if he was were those warnings understood/heeded?
11. Why did the ship have a mix of tourists and media when it was pitched as a “scientific expedition”?
5 Nov: ABC Lateline: $1.5 million Australian expedition to Antarctica Professor Chris Turney from the University of NSW is mounting the largest Australian science expeditions to the Antarctic with an 85-person team to try to answer questions about how climate change in the frozen continent might be already shifting weather patterns in Australia.