So much sea ice in Antarctica that a research vessel gets stuck, in summer!

For the latest, see this new story. and this opinion piece on why this is a fiasco

UPDATE: Turns out this “research” vessel was mostly a taxpayer funded junket for getting video stories to BBC in the UK and ABC in Australia, see update2 below.

It is summer in the southern hemisphere and yet there is still signifiicantly above normal amounts of sea ice present as the passengers and crew of one tour ship discovered. The icebreakers Xue Long and Aurora Australis, and a French research vessel Astrolabe are cruising towards the Akademik Shokalskiy at full throttle for rescue. Photos and maps follow.


MV Akademik Shokalskiy (file photo) from – click image for details

PR from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, Dec 25th, 2013:

Search and rescue of passenger vessel trapped in ice underway

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) is coordinating a search and rescue for a Russian passenger ship beset by ice approximately 1500 nautical miles south of Hobart.

AMSA’s Rescue Coordination Centre Australia (RCC Australia) was contacted by the Falmouth Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) in the United Kingdom on Christmas morning.

The Falmouth MRCC received a distress message via satellite from a Russian flagged vessel, MV Akademik Shokalskiy, with 74 people about 7.20am (AEDT).

The ship is in the Australian Search and Rescue region, 100 nautical miles east of the French base Dumont D’Urville.

RCC Australia assumed coordination of the incident and issued a broadcast to icebreaking vessels in the area.

Three ships with icebreaking capability have responded, including the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) vessel Aurora Australis, and are now en route to the area.

The closest vessels are at least two days sailing time away.

Further updates will be provided when more information is available.




This is apparently an image tweeted by somebody on-board the Akademik Shokalskiy, showing the ice around it:


The expedition is being led by Chris Turney, “climate scientist”, who has “set up a carbon refining company called Carbonscape which has developed technology to fix carbon from the atmosphere and make a host of green bi-products, helping reduce greenhouse gas levels.” The purpose of the expedition is “to discover and communicate the environmental changes taking place in the south.” (h/t to Sagebrush Gardener)

It seems they found out what the “environmental changes taking place in the south.” are.

From the WUWT sea ice page, Antarctic Sea Ice is more than 2 standard deviations above normal:


According to this sitrep report for one of the rescue vessels, the Aurora Australis the Akademik Shokalskiy  is trapped in sea ice in the Commonwealth Bay region of Antarctica.

This is what the current sea ice coverage looks like at the south pole with the approximate ship location marked:

Commonwealth Bay region of Antarctica ship_trapped

Image source: National Snow and Ice Data Center via the WUWT sea ice page.

Wikipedia says about the ship:

MV Akademik Shokalskiy (Russian: Академик Шокальский) is an Akademik Shuleykin-class ice-strengthened ship, built in Finland in 1982 and originally used for oceanographic research.[5] In 1998 it was fully refurbished to serve as a research ship for Arctic and Antarctic work.[3] It was named after the Russian oceanographer Yuly Shokalsky.[6] The ship has two [7] passenger decks, with dining rooms, a bar, a library, and a sauna, and accommodates 54 passengers.[3] It is currently operated by Aurora Expeditions, an Australian expedition cruise line.[3][8] In 2011, the Akademik Shokalskiy sailed cruises along the coast of Russia[9] and to East Antarctica.[10] Her sister ships are Akademik Shuleykin, Arnold Veymer, Akademik Gamburtsev, Professor Molchanov, Professor Multanovskiy, Geolog Dmitriy Nalivkin, Professor Polshkov, Professor Khromov.


WUWT reader “pat” writes at  2013/12/26 at 1:59 pm

seems this expedition was more a BBC/Guardian/ABC CAGW exercise!

18 Dec: Guardian: The Guardian lays claim to Antarctica – in pictures Journalists Alok Jha and Laurence Topham have landed in Antarctica with the 2013 Australasian Antarctic Expedition Documentary filmmaker Laurence Topham lines up a shot from the bows. Photograph: Alok Jha/Guardian…

Guardian: Laurence Topham, documentary filmmaker

In 2007 he worked for Current TV, where he edited over 50 short-form documentaries for terrestrial broadcast…


26 Dec: BBC: Andrew Luck-Baker: Science continues for trapped Australasian Antarctic expedition Science reporter Andrew Luck-Baker is on board the Russian research vessel Shokalskiy, covering the Australasian Antarctic Expedition 2013 for the BBC World Service programme Discovery…

Tantalisingly, a low band of grey sky to the Northeast suggests clear water lies not so many kilometres away. The grey colour is light reflected from open water. The early Antarctic explorers named this colour phenomenon “water sky” and used it to navigate their route through the treacherous pack ice…

In addition to the Russian crew of 22, the expedition team consists of 18 professional scientists from Australia and New Zealand, and 22 volunteer science assistants. They are members of the public, ranging in age from their 20s to their 70s. They paid to join the scientific adventure…

25 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.

ABC’s MARGOT O’NEILL: The research stakes are high. Antarctica is one of the great engines driving the world’s oceans, winds and weather, especially in Australia. But there’s ominous signs of climate change.

CHRIS TURNEY: The Southern Hemisphere westerly winds encircle Antarctica, and over the last 20 or 30 years or so, they’ve been pushing further south. Now – so actually in a way it’s almost like Antarctica’s withdrawing itself from the rest of the world…

EMMA ALBERICI: And tomorrow night, in the second part of this special report, could the British Antarctic explorer Robert Scott have lived? We look at how Professor Turney discovered that choosing the right team can be a matter of life and death.


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Bloke down the pub

if that is the true position of the ship, how did she get there without an ice-breaker in the first place?

What are the Russians doing in the South?

This must be a spoof everyone knows all the ice melted ask any Climate scientist you know Dana and Nutter and kook and hansen and fruitfly .


The captain believed the models, not the conditions in front of him. The models say the ice has melted.


O there would be no ice du to global warming so we cane go there savly.
But yes they ice is there du to global cooling. Boy they FFF up big time.


Bloke, I believe that the solid white in the image belies the fact that this can be as much as 85% ice free, so they must have followed some open leads and then the wind or currents closed the leads behind them.


I noticed that the ship is equipped with a bar…….guess where I would be right now??!!

Jimmy Haigh

The reason there is more ice now is because increased CO2, caused by man’s use of fossil fuels, causes ice to freeze at a higher temperature. Only ‘deniers” like us don’t get it.

John R Walker

The Guardian in the UK covered this yesterday – answers most sensible questions why they are there…
And again today…
Some irony that an ice-hardened Russian ship will probably have to be rescued from the ice by a Russian built, now Chinese owned, ice-breaker!

R. de Haan

So the ship is trapped in non existent melted Antarctic ice?
All caused by AGW of course.

Werner Brozek

When the anomaly for south sea ice in December 2007 was slightly higher at this same time of the year, the RSS anomaly for the following month, January of 2008, was -0.113.


Gosh this can’t be true because Gore and many others were just there two years ago showing the world how low the Antarctic sea ice really is. /sarc
See here….
… UNFCCC Chief Christiana Figueres … wrote: … “Greetings from a chinstrap penguin colony. Populations decreasing due to decreasing sea ice.”
Whatever. The satellites are wrong. Every shred of factual evidence is wrong and Big Al is right. And Branson’s commercial jets (Virgin Atlantic) fly using unicorn farts.

Bill Illis

People used sailing ships in this area for over 200 years. James Ross sailed right up to the “Ross Ice Shelf” in 1841.
Real history tells us that climate history is simply made-up to further the narrative and keep the superstition going.


The Antarctic sea ice anomaly seems to be getting even larger, which is intriguing to say the least. From a scientific POV this is really exciting. Does anyone here have any ideas on what might be causing it?


The warmists will probably try to claim this is just a publicity stunt by oil-fueled deniers.

Sagebrush Gardener

The expedition is being led by Chris Turney, “climate scientist”, who has “set up a carbon refining company called Carbonscape which has developed technology to fix carbon from the atmosphere and make a host of green bi-products, helping reduce greenhouse gas levels.” The purpose of the expedition is “to discover and communicate the environmental changes taking place in the south.”


Until the people who make important decisions rid themselves of the AGW meme, situations like this will continue to happen – and some situations could even result in injury or death.

North of 43 and south of 44

I vote they leave them to get out on their own.
Don’t endanger good people to rescue those who should have known better.

john robertson

Wait a minute, how dare these activists call for rescue?
Rescuing them will of necessity involve breaking up the ice pack, they proclaim themselves to be so passionately concerned about.
If they had any ethics they would abandon ship and do a modern recreation of the Shackleton
Or stay in place and actually report the “environmental changes” taking place.
Finally I trust the owners of this expedition posted bond, adequate to cover the costs of rescuing themselves.
Of course we canadians can be sure of one thing, this will not be reported by CBC.

Leon Brozyna

When reality and fantasy collide …
( Pssssst … Reality always wins)

Well, at least they’re keeping busy. from one of the Guardian pieces:

“We’re undertaking further measurements of the saltiness and temperature of the waters below us to see how much change there has been over the past century – since Douglas Mawson’s time, a century ago.”
He added: “Alongside this, there is a trend to more extensive sea ice around east Antarctica and this looks set to continue.
“What impact this has on the local biology is currently uncertain and we are undertaking bird counts and analysing the algae colonising the newly formed ice to better understand the impact of expanding sea ice. If conditions clear tomorrow, we hope to core the ocean bed to obtain sediments for reconstructing ocean circulation changes in the past.”

a jones

Well ay least she has an ice resistant hull. The fashion a few years back of sailing unsuitable cruise ships close to the southern Ice pack from South America must have given the Chilean navy, responsible for rescue in those parts, ten aspirin headaches. However this kind of folly seems to have vanished perhaps due to the loss of one such ship which rather changed insurer’s and owner’s views. .
Kindest Regards


It is the missing heat effect
“Sea ice around Antarctica is increasing despite the warming global climate,” said the study’s lead author Richard Bintanja, from the KNMI.
“This is caused by melting of the ice sheets from below,” he told the Reuters news agency.


“The U.K.’s Guardian newspaper reported that two of its journalists were among those trapped aboard the vessel. Alok Jha and Laurence Topham had been reporting as part of the Spirit of Mawson…”
It could be interesting to see how they report this incident.

Sagebrush Gardener

By my rough calculations, the engines of the stranded research vessel and its rescuers are producing a total of 40,885 horsepower — the equivalent of ten large diesel locomotives. Quite an impressive carbon footprint.

No wonder these AGW/CO2-ridden amateurs got stuck in the ice; they are onboard a sponsored RESEARCH vessel and are consequently and helplessly tied to the IPCC mast: “The ice is in this area wil be gone by 2013”. “We repeat: The ice in this aea will be gone by 2013”.
Instead of believing in stupid models fueled with rotten input cooked up by crooks on the other side of the planet, maybe they should have consulted guys like Amundsen and Nansen who used to check the actual facts before they entered cold regions like this.


John R Walker says:
“The Guardian in the UK covered this….”
And the truly unprecedented thing is that the Guardian does not link it to global warming. Is Dana asleep on the job?

Jim Cripwell

NevenA writes “Does anyone here have any ideas on what might be causing it?”
I suspect the answer is no. The chances are that all the effects we are seeing, are due to natural causes, but since no-one really understands these natural causes, what makes Antarctic sea ice not melt as rapidly as might be expected, is unknown.

Robert W Turner

Unrelated (but hilarious) — Peter Glieck has made predictions of an ice-free Arctic by 2020 today on HP.

Werner Brozek says:
December 26, 2013 at 9:56 am
When the anomaly for south sea ice in December 2007 was slightly higher at this same time of the year, the RSS anomaly for the following month, January of 2008, was -0.113.

But it is even worse than you think!
There is – and we may continue to have – a decline in Arctic sea ice since 1979. Whether pre-satellite-era Arctic sea ice levels (maximum extents in late MArch each year), average extents through the whole year, or minimum extents in September each year) were “steady”, were “always” higher, or had been going up and down periodically we don’t really know. There is controversial evidence all three ways.
Regardless, in today’s “climate”, the minimum Arctic sea ice extents occurs through mid-September at the equinox, with a minimum area between 3.5 and 4.5 Mkm^2 each year. At 3.5 Mkm^2, the entire arctic sea ice can be represented by a tiny “beanie” cap on the arctic, with a lower average edge at latitude 82.5 degrees. At that latitude, at that day-of-year (DOY), the HIGHEST the sun’s rays can reach for a few minutes around noon each day is 7.5 degrees above the horizon, with a air mass the rest of the day between 34 and 20 times the nominal air mass of 1.0 at the equator at noon.
Net result? At that day-of-year, at the latitude where the ice actually is, there is more heat lost each day from each meter of exposed ocean water from convection, conduction, radiation to the sky, and from evaporation than there can be by absorption of solar energy as heat. The entire Arctic sea ice could melt away, and we could NEVER get any warmer than today’s “climate” … The myth of Arctic feedback (hotter arctic air warms the sea ice, which melts the sea ice, which exposes darker water to the sun, which warms the ocean even more … is just an exaggerated myth. (Now, if you were to find floating masses of millions of square kilometers of arctic sea ice down near the equator all year, THEN you might have a case for arctic sea ice feedback. But not under today’s conditions and today’s arctic measured sea ice areas.)
The less arctic sea ice there is under today’s conditions, the cooler the planet becomes.
But …. In the Antarctic seas, the edge of the sea ice is much, much closer to the equator at all times of the year. The antctic continent is 97% ice-covered all year round, and is usually credited at 14.0 Mkm^2. It is surrounded by an additional 3.5 Mkm^2 of grounded ice shelves, which the NSIRDC tells me most emphatically is NOT included in their Antarctic sea extents measurements, and is in turn then wrapped by an ever-increasing belt of variable antarctic sea ice. (Result? The edge of the antarctic sea ice at its minimum is 14.0 + 3.5 + 2.5 Mkm^2 = 20 Mkm^2 of ice around the south pole.
At its minimum – steadily increasing since 1979 when accurate measurements started, that “minimum” edge of antarctic sea cie is down at latitude 70 south. Now you get a much different reflection: Much MORE energy is reflected from the earth with an increase in sea ice! The greater the minimum Antarctic sea ice extents, the greater the reflected energy, and the cooler the earth gets!
But it is even worse than you think. That was for “minimum” Antarctic sea ice extents. At maximum, Antarctic sea ice extents are now setting three years of new maximum extent records, and this year has 20.0 Mkm^2 of sea ice extents. Add up the permanent continental ice, the grounded ice shelves, and that sea ice maximum, and now you have a continuous reflective surface around Antarctica in September of 14.0 + 3.5 + 20 = 27.5 Mkm^2 of ice.
Its northern border is right at latitude 60 south: closer to the equator than the southern tip of Greenland. At that latitude, the air mass is distinctly lower (right at 1.5 to 2.0), and the sun is higher, and the days are longer. Net result? The Antarctic sea ice is reflecting even more energy, and cooling the earth even more than at minimum extents.
But, the CAGW religion is telling us that 18.0 million square kilometers of increasing antarctic sea ice is due to “increased precipitation” and “Winds blowing the sea ice out from the ice shelves” and “melting water from under the antarctic ice cap diluting the sea water around the continent.” so it freezes faster.
Anybody want to run the numbers about how melt water is needed to reduce salinity under 20 million square km’s of storm-tossed (well-mixed) sea water?
The CAGW religion is telling us that today’s three years of record-setting antarctic sea ice is “trivial” and “minor” or “only a few percent higher” …. But the (smaller and truly inconsequential) Arctic sea ice loss with a net cooling effect is catastrophic!

Stephen Richards

NevenA says:
December 26, 2013 at 10:01 am
You’re the AGW genius. Go figure some appropriate lie comme normale.

Oh. By the way.
At today’s rate of increase in Antarctic sea ice extents, the waters south of Cape Horn will be blocked to year-round sea traffic within 8-12 years.
It is a good thing that the Arctic northwest passage, or the shorter route north of Siberia to China from Europe, will be open to traffic. Except that route is “closed” by ice in September when the Cape Horn will be closed. Sea traffic in the Arctic is really only open July-August. At, at that time of year, the Antarctic sea ice is a good distance from Cape Horn (Lat/Long position 56’48 S, 88’24W,) and from the Straits of Magellan a little bit further.
Ice bergs are common even now in the “heat” of mid-February.


Those darned big oil deniers have used all that dark money to fund a massive ice making machine (possibly a re-purposed Cheney/Rove hurricane machine) to target the esteemed Mr. Turney and his expedition.
Or perhaps he just “fixed” so much carbon from the atmosphere that it immediately froze the sea around his ship!!
Can’t wait to hear his spin on this to keep his “research” funding coming.

Stephen Richards

and some situations could even result in injury or death.
[snip – way over the top – mod]


I’ve done a few trips on these ”Professor” and ”Akademik” ships. They are excellent ships for this kind of expedition. Very seaworthy and safe but also small enough to be handy in confined and shallow waters. However being small they do tend to be rather lively in heavy seas – not recommended for people who suffer from seasickness.
They are ice-reinforced and can go through reasonably open sea-ice, but they are not built for ice-breaking. If they get stuck in dense ice they can’t get out without help. However the cabins are quite comfortable and both the food and the bar is good. They also have rather good libraries of books on the Arctic (and Antarctic), so if they are stuck for a while the passengers will have an excellent opportunity to learn more about conditions in the Antarctic in more than one sense.

Warren in New Zealand
First Ice breaker expected between 4pm and midnight NZ time this afternoon, 27th Dec.

Philip Lloyd

“The expedition is being led by Chris Turney, “climate scientist”, who has “set up a carbon refining company called Carbonscape which has developed technology to fix carbon from the atmosphere – – -” The purpose of the expedition is “to discover and communicate the environmental changes taking place in the south.” But was there not another bunch of True Believers who decided to row through the North West Passage a few months ago, only to have to bale out when the ice trapped them too? With that warning, I think the passengers have every right to sue Mr Turney for gross negligence, if not outright fraud.

Matt G

“Sea ice around Antarctica is increasing despite the warming global climate,” said the study’s lead author Richard Bintanja, from the KNMI.
“This is caused by melting of the ice sheets from below,” he told the Reuters news agency.”
So why is this not occurring in the Arctic then?
Melting of the ice from below is suppose to be occurring in the Arctic. No way can the same mechanism be occurring at both poles yet have opposite results. If the sea ice is becoming larger its because the sea ice isn’t melting closer to where it was originally. It is now melting further away because it is cooler where it was originally melting. Dont know any magical physical law that states otherwise unless of course just been invented by the alarmists as usual.

Peter Melia

Some additional stuff about the ship, if anyone’s interested, which resulted from heavy and intensive research on my part, that is, clicking on the ship photo. Give the Russians their due, the ship looks nicely maintained, the tweet photo is from the deck above the wheelhouse, starboard. Safety equipment should be the same good standard.


Here is the ship posted today.


Peter Melia says:
“Safety equipment should be the same good standard.”
It is, at least in the ships I’ve been on. However I wouldn’t like to have to use it in East Antarctica, no matter how modern it is.
One can’t help wonder what they think they are doing in the Commonwealth Bay area? Tourist expeditions to East Antarctica (which is what this really is) invariably go for the Ross Sea area which is ice-free in summer. You still have to go through the pack to get to the Ross Sea, but that is a relatively short stretch further north and out in the open ocean .

Peter Melia

Tell us, Sagebrush Gardener, did you allow for the diesel generators, shouldn’t they add to the power load, or are these ships all diesel electric?

The Yale Forum produced a youtube propaganda video to protect the CO2 theory and explain that increased Antarctic ice is due to the winds. Its a very one sided video and exemplifies the schizo climate science as the physical explanations for growing Antarctic sea ice is the opposite of the arguments for shrinking Arctic ice.
1) Note they only talk about the effect of winds increasing the ice in Antarctica but ignore the well documented observations by the consensus, see Rigor (2002), that subfreezing winds from Siberia REMOVED the thick ice in the Arctic, which then allowed more heat to ventilate. Before the Arctic ice was removed by the winds, researchers noted air temperatures were cooling over the Arctic Kahl, J., et al., (1993) Absence of evidence for greenhouse warming over the Arctic Ocean in the past 40 years. Nature 361, 335 – 337.
2) The video suggested the westerlies carry Antarctic ice further towards the equator but failed to mention that most of the ice is formed in polynyas closer to the coast of Antarctica. There the winds blow in the exact opposite direction from east to west, which tends to keep the ice closer to shore due to the Coirolis effect.
3) The Antarctic Oscillation is an indicator of the strength of westerly winds that Sinclair’s video focuses on. However those winds were mostly significantly stronger in the summer and have little bearing on the increase in winter ice. Instead of talking in generalities, if an analysis is done region by region, those stronger westerlies actually caused less ice. The winds are responsible for compressing ice against the peninsula which is the ONY place where sea ice in Antarctic has shrunk.
4) The real schizo nature of the CO2 argument is further revealed when they argue that global warming has INCREASED the difference between the poles and the equator thus increasing the winds. In the northern hemisphere the EXACT OPPOSITE argument is used to explain the increase in cold winters causing such things as Cairo’s first snowstorm in 100 years. IN that case climate scientists will argue there has been a DECREASE in the temperature difference WEAKENING the westerly winds an allowing the jet stream to become more wavy so that cold air blasts can descend from the north pole. They need to get their story straight.
5) Finally the video claimed global sea ice was down but they need an update. Global sea ice has has been normal or above since the video was made. Bottom line there is not less global ice.
I still maintain “Antarctic Sea Ice Is the Better Climate Change Indicator” and climate scientists are creating “epicycle” explanations to explain away a theory that is increasingly falsified.–climate-change-indicator.html

Susann says:
December 26, 2013 at 11:56 am
I would think some skidoos to get to the ice edge would be better then a lifeboat Flippen Dumb A$$eS . Darwin awards all around. ;>)


Stephen Richards says:
December 26, 2013 at 11:33 am
and some situations could even result in injury or death.
and the sooner that day arrives the better. Let’s hope it is someone important like the plonker prince, or branson. That’s the only way this nonsense will stop.

Or, for extra irony, James Cameron.
(Director of the Titanic.)

Alan Robertson

RACookPE1978 says:
December 26, 2013 at 11:30 am
Oh. By the way.
At today’s rate of increase in Antarctic sea ice extents, the waters south of Cape Horn will be blocked to year-round sea traffic within 8-12 years.

Berényi Péter

The ship has two passenger decks, with dining rooms, a bar, a library, and a sauna, and accommodates 54 passengers

They may observe ice is rapidly melting in their drink, as it is getting really hot in the bar.

I am sure that Al Gore is on board as stowaway, it is impossible to have the Al Gore effect on ice without his presence somewhere in the neighbourhood…


Is Banana Nutty-celli 2013’s biggest Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Hypocrite, or does that honour still fall to Algore? PS the climate models all fail, because at their cores they all use the same mathematical Al-Gore-ithms.