The Antarctic 'research' fiasco – 'would you, could you, in a boat'?

This will be a top “sticky” post for awhile since interest is high – new stories will appear below this one – Anthony

UPDATE: Josh channels the boat people

UPDATE2: Another irony is discovered, this one doubly deep.  See update 2 below.

UPDATE3: see WUWT and Weatherbell help KUSI-TV with a weather forecasting request from ice-trapped ship in Antarctica Akademik Shokalskiy

UPDATE4: AMSA: Helicopter rescue of Akademik Shokalskiy likely to commence shortly

(It’s off again, then now its on again, with report the helicopter has landed)

UPDATE5: All the passengers (tourists and scientists) are off the ship

UPDATE6: Tough questions need to be asked

UPDATE7: Trouble on the rescue ship – reaching open water not so easy


Former Akademik Shokalskiy has been renamed in Al Gore’s honor. Satirical image by: Ollie Cromwell @TheRedRag on Twitter

As we reported previously on WUWT here and here, the saga of the “climate scientists/tourists trapped in ice” continues to fascinate many. Now a second ship has given up on rescue, after the Chinese ship “Snow Dragon” gave up two days ago. The Aurora Australis has abandoned rescue of the trapped Russian “research”vessel in Antarctica and a helicopter evacuation in now being ordered. This episode has taken on a heightened comedic fiasco-like quality.

Now, with such a fantastic failure in full world view, questions are going to start being asked. For example, with advanced tools at their disposal (that Mawson never had) such as near real-time satellite imaging of Antarctic sea ice, GPS navigation, on-board Internet, radar, and satellite communications, one wonders how these folks managed to get themselves stuck at all. Was it simple incompetence of ignoring the signs and data at their disposal combined with “full steam ahead” fever? Even the captain of the Aurora Australis had the good sense to turn back knowing he’d reached the limits of the ship on his rescue attempt.  Or, was it some sort of publicity stunt to draw attention? If it was the latter, it has backfired mightily.

One might argue that with photos like the one below, this whole “Spirit of Mawson” research expedition, is little more than a media stunt.


Source: [ ]

Even after the ship was trapped, these reporters still had a party like atmosphere going on:


Source: [ ]

Yesterday, Andrew Revkin tweeted something that I agreed with, especially since so many of the people trapped in the ice on the ship seem to have a nonchalant, almost partly-like atmosphere going on.

Yes, the cost and risk is significant. These folks trapped on-board don’t seem to be cognizant of that issue, following the #spiritofmawson Twitter feed, it’s like watching reports (with pictures and video) from a high school class party.

And here’s the kicker. Even the public saw through the charade at the beginning. Trying to get crowd funding from the public for this trip failed miserably as this Indigogo campaign shows:



Maybe it had to do with the ridiculous image of Professor Chris Turney in full cold weather gear standing in the midst of a tropical forest.

Right after the ship got stuck and there was a realization that the world was watching, one scientist on-board, Dr. Chris Fogwill, of the University of New South Wales, decided that it would be an opportune time to hit the public for money again:



And again, the public has seen through this, and today, the campaign remains stuck at $1000 with just a few donors. People are realizing that there’s no real science being done on this trip, and that it seems to be little more than a chartered party boat for Antarctic enthusiasts and media.

Now, with the ship to be evacuated via helicopter, will the Akademik Shokalskiy join the list of recent ships that have been sunk in Antarctic waters?

Ships that have sunk in Antarctic waters in recent years (h/t to David Archibald)


The Brazilian yacht “Endless Sea” sank in Maxwell Bay, Ardley Cove on Saturday 7th April, 2012. It was used for “scientific and educational expeditions”.


The sunken remains of the 76-ft Mar Sem Fin, aka “Endless Sea”, which sunk on April 7, 2012, lies at a depth of about 9 meters (30 ft) in Ardley Cove, Antarctica.


In November 2007, the Linblad Explorer hit sea ice and sank.


In April 2013, the Chinese factory fishing ship Kai Xin caught fire and sank near Bransfield Strait at the Antarctic Peninsula.

And there are others, these are just a few recent ones.

With so much concern for the pristine environment of Antarctica, one wonders how much environmental damage these sinkings are doing.

And when the trip is nothing more than a party for your friends and media, disguised as a “scientific expedition”, one wonders if there shouldn’t be some moratorium on such trips.

Richard Tol summed it all up nicely with one sentence:


The #spiritofmawson hashtag is now getting competition from the hashtag #ClitanicDisaster in honor of the trapped climate scientists that the MSM won’t mention as being climate scientists.



reader Aphan writes on 2013/12/31 at 7:16 pm

I don’t know if anyone was posted this yet, but the IRONY just gobsmacked me.

The British “explorers” on board the MV Explorer who were “commemorating the Spirit of Shackleton” found themselves repeating HIS adventure when their ship struck a piece of submerged ice and then SANK in the Antarctic in November of 2007! None of the passengers or crew were lost. But HOW AMAZING is it that both the “Spirit of Mawson” trip AND the “Spirit of Shackleton” cruise trips ended in disaster from sea ice?????

I mean…come on. What are the odds?



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What a joke…

John Frguson

And yet they have the gall to say they’re trapped in the ice because of global warming.

Robert Wykoff

I love the smell of schadenfreude in the morning

One of the most striking features of these activist jollies for me is just how woefully unprepared for the worst they all seem to be. And I mean this to the point of frightening ignorance. The Guardian/BBC journalist Alok Jha for example, describes in graphic detail what happened to his hand when he exposed it to the elements outside “to type an email”. His surprise at how quickly he started to lose the use of his hand is absolutely evident. Has he never heard of frostbite?
But then what should we expect from a bunch of people who are presenting the image of partying it up, tweeting pictures of them setting up a “media hub” whilst at least four crews are desperately working out how to save them?


I wonder how much volume their sewage holding tanks can hold, and whether they’re going to have to start dumping straight into the ocean.

@John Frguson says:December 30, 2013 at 10:09 am: “And yet they have the gall to say they’re trapped in the ice because of global warming.”
Apparently Prof. Turney believes global warming has melted all the ice, boiled the seas, and that’s the ocean bed he’s sitting on.
Expect photoshops turning the white ice brown.

Joe Public

It was on 11th Dec that the Beeb’s resident pessimist, Jonathan Amos, reported:-
“Esa’s Cryosat mission detects continued West Antarctic ice loss”
“The dedicated polar mission finds the region now to be dumping over 150 cubic km of ice into the sea every year. It equates to a 15% increase in West Antarctica’s contribution to global sea level rise.”
How high must the global sea level have been in 1912, when Mawson walked on the ice-free shoreline of Commonwealth Bay?

David Ball

Once they are home safe and sound, I will mock them ceaselessly. I will also be watching to see who gets stuck with the rescue bill. Better not be the taxpayer.
Not a huge fan of Revkin, but I am glad he is concerned about the cost incurred and who is on the hook for it.


Somewhere far, far to the south where it is summer, a group of global warming scientists are trapped in the Antarctic ice. If you missed the irony of that situation, it is because much of the mainstream media has glossed over that rather inconvenient bit of hilarity. As an example here is an Associated Press story that avoids mentioning the real mission of the scientists aboard the icebound Russian ship:
The Snow Dragon icebreaker came within 7 miles (11 kilometers) of the Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy, which has been stuck since Christmas Eve, but had to retreat after the ice became too thick, said expedition spokesman Alvin Stone.
The Akademik Shokalskiy, which has been on a research expedition to Antarctica, got stuck Tuesday after a blizzard’s whipping winds pushed the sea ice around the ship, freezing it in place. The ship wasn’t in danger of sinking, and there are weeks’ worth of supplies for the 74 scientists, tourists and crew on board, but the vessel cannot move.
So what was the exact mission of these scientists? AP is rather vague about this reporting only:
The scientific team on board the research ship — which left New Zealand on Nov. 28 — had been recreating Australian explorer Douglas Mawson’s century-old voyage to Antarctica when it became trapped. They plan to continue their expedition after they are freed, expedition leader Chris Turney said.
Um, there is a bit more to the expedition than merely following in the footsteps of a century-old voyage. But what that mission really is, AP won’t say. If AP is vague about the mission’s purpose, Reuters provides even less information.
Since the MSM isn’t forthcoming as to the real purpose of those scientists traveling to Antarctica, we turn to Whats Up With That for more insight:
Read more:

Peter Stroud

Will this fiasco induce the BBC and the Guardian think twice, before continuing to push the CAGW theology so enthusiastically? I think not: but how many more PR disasters can the religion take?

Questing Vole

Difficult to read the Grauniad article with a totally straight face, but it includes some interesting analysis of why the ice is so bad.
And credit where credit is due, the expedition has collected some relevant data towards its aim of evaluating how conditions in the area have changed since 1911, even if they can’t bring themselves to admit that their observations don’t fit the AGW model they expected to prove.
But there is one “no change” box they probably can tick: I don’t suppose Mawson’s expedition had bananas or peanuts either…


How long till they run out of diesel, and have to start burning their personal electronic devices for fuel?
At least they’d be quieter…

P. Berkin
Doug Proctor

It is all so exciting being on a ship caught in the ice of Antarctica(!!), even if it is by the ice that isn’t supposed to be there! I’ll always remember it! My bit for Global Warming! Reality is very bracing, what?

When a group of true believers gathers together their beliefs are generally reinforced by the consensus group think and become more extreme. As the days pass on this Antarctic ship of fools the cognitive dissonance between their delusions and reality must be increasing rapidly. It will be interesting to see if the herd instinct is able to preserve their faith or will some of them more or less flip out and literally go bonkers. See eg

“I wonder how much volume their sewage holding tanks can hold, and whether they’re going to have to start dumping straight into the ocean”.
They would get frostbitten a***s to add to there woes!


Thank you!
Thank you,
Hope local penguins keep their green eggs and ham.


I dunno, I suppose Google or the NSA might know, we might have to do something about rescuing them…when they start trying to look up the nutritional content of ‘Alok Jha’.

Michael Ronayne

What do you call a ship load of trapped Global Cooling Deniers who are in danger of freezing to death?
A good start!


While the ship’s brochure points out that “Views are excellent from the large, open decks and the Navigation Bridge’” maybe they couldn’t see the ice coming from the vantage point of the “Lounge and bar, open late afternoon and evening with a wide selection of wines and spirits” (an essential feature of all scientific research vessels).
This is just the start of the Southern Hemisphere doom…

Let’s hope they all get out safely, otherwise we won’t be able to continue splitting our sides over their idiotic antics.


Coming on BBC, or perhaps the NatGeo Channel – ‘Looking for the Antarctic Riviera’.

On the BBC radio news this afternoon, apparently they are sending helicopters to pick up the crew and passengers, the inference being that the ice is starting to crush the hull.
One question I would like an answer to is how did the icebreaker that went to rescue them only get to seven miles from them? Presumably they would have plotted the shortest ice-free route, there must be at least 49 square miles of ice several yards thick!! This would imply that the temperature must have dropped substantially to create this amount of ice. This temperature drop has not been mentioned in any of the reports I have read/heard.

It’s interesting to note that its the peak of summer down there and the ice is increasing not receeding. Maybe they should start studying Gobal Cooling!


@geoffchambers – true, but doubly true if things turn worse and some helo crew dies trying to get them out.


Advice to expedition leader Chris Turkey: whatever you do, don’t go for an outdoor pee
[snip – this Youtube video is pointless -mod]

Vuil Uil

When interviewed a few days ago Turney said they had two weeks of food before they had to go to rations.
If I was a penguin I’d move away. After a few weeks grilled penguin will start looking nice even to a greenie.


Thanks for that Dr Norman Page and …
Guardian video producer Laurence Topham posts a short diary account of how he and his colleague Alok Jha are passing the time on board the Akademik Shokalskiy, which is trapped in heavy sea ice off the coast of Antarctica awaiting rescue by the Autralian icebreaker Aurora Australis
Reminiscent of Sgt. Pinback’s video logs on Dark Star!
I do not like the men on this spaceship. They are uncouth and fail to appreciate my better qualities. I have something of value to contribute to this mission if they would only recognize it. Today over lunch I tried to improve morale and build a sense of camaraderie among the men by holding a humorous, round-robin discussion of the early days of the mission. My overtures were brutally rejected. These men do not want a happy ship. They are deeply sick and try to compensate by making me feel miserable. Last week was my birthday. Nobody even said “happy birthday” to me. Someday this tape will be played and then they’ll feel sorry.


“It’s fantastic – I love it when the ice wins and we don’t,” said expedition marine ecologist Tracy Rogers. “It reminds you that as humans, we don’t control everything and that the natural world – it’s the winner here. 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.”
I love it when nature wins too. But, unfortunately, she still has a way to go to beat these jokers arrogance.


Assuming temperature symmetry between the hemispheres, I’m wondering what implications this might have on Arctic ice growth this coming summer.
Are we seeing ice expansion in the Antarctic in December?? Wouldn’t that be unprecedented?

Geoff -if anything happens to them I’ll start a one-man shaming campaign against UEA who are after all morally responsible for much of the alarmism

Tom J

Too bad the ‘Mighty Mac, is no longer in service. Built in 1944, the Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw broke ice across the Great Lakes until its retirement in 2006, and a formidable but friendly beast it was. At 290 feet long it had a substantial girth of 74 feet with which to clear lanes through the ice on Lake Superior, Michigan, and others, so the massive ore ships could get through. It used no less than six 10 cylinder Fairbanks Morse Diesel engines. These 2 cycle Diesel engines used 2 opposed pistons in each cylinder, each operating a crankshaft throw at both the top and bottom of each engine; the two crankshafts geared together. Each pair of engines was in its own watertight compartment, and each pair produced 3,500 hp: total power; 10,500. The engines turned generators and the three propellers (two stern, one bow) were driven by electric motors. Among the icebreakers on the Lakes the most capable ones had bow propellers and the Mighty Mac had one. The bow propeller could be used, in reverse to make a pressure wave to break up forward ice, or, to assist the ship in its forward motion. With a top, open water speed of a respectable 18.7 knots it’s even possible the Mighty Mac could get through the St. Lawrence Seaway and down to Antarctica in time to rescue these foolish, hubris infected, irresponsible people. A testimony to its capabilities was its continuous 62 years of wintertime service on the Great Lakes, one of which was considered threatening enough to inspire Gordon Lightfood’s lyrics; “Superior it’s said, never gives up her dead.”


I wonder if that picture of the folks holding the flag with “theguardian” printed over a map of Antarctica explains this…

Alan Robertson

Michael Ronayne says:
December 30, 2013 at 10:47 am
What do you call a ship load of trapped Global Cooling Deniers who are in danger of freezing to death?
A good start!
Q: What do you need if you find a shipload of Climate Numpties, stuck in the ice?
A: More ice.


The Antarctic does not suffer fools easily. The conditions there can change so quickly and are never less than deadly. These happy idiots are a liability and have achieved a very high nuisance value. Some other poor coot will have to put his life at risk to get them out of their ill-conceived, ill-planned and ill-informed predicament. At least they have plenty of ice for the drinks, while the bar has supplies.

Reblogged this on Public Secrets and commented:
The climate change movement is falling apart and ending in farce, as this “scientific expedition” shows. BTW, click through for photos of ships sunk in the Antarctic in recent years. Maybe we should worry about the ecological damage incompetent visitors are doing.

Good post…I was going to write up something in those lines but this says it all. This is Spring Break by some who never grew up. They think they’re so cool and hip, when actually they’ve made a mockery of the scientific industry. They took a 50 million dollar vessel and are now on the verge of trashing it like out-of-control brats at a Project X party.


“The @GdnAntarctica winter men’s clothing catalogue has just arrived …”
But it’s summer down there!

Man Bearpig

This must have been the best entertainment that Penguins and Seals have seen in a long time.

Too foggy today for the one helicopter from the Xue Lang – which cannot land on the deck of the Aurora Australis. They may have to wait another day or two. The cost of the rescue is expected to be in the “multi-millions” by SMH. Looks like a skeleton crew of 17 will be left on board after the tourists/pilgrims are taken off.
“When the rescue does take place, Shokolskiy passengers would likely be taken by the Xue Long’s helicopter to the Chinese icebreaker. The Aurora’s barge would then move passengers from the Xue Long to the Australian icebreaker”. — SMH.


Had a quick glance at SkS to see how they were dealing with it. Wonderful – a cartoon of a ship sailing towards an iceberg, followed by all is well, no problem, the iceberg has melted! How not apposite! Congratulations, SkS on your impeccable timing! Yes I know it was meant to be the Arctic Ocean – you know, the one that became completely ice-free this year, but even so …

Mike McMillan

Mark Steyn is sitting in for brother Rush today, and he was concerned they might be stuck in the ice for years, especially if our efforts at preventing global warming begin to take effect. What would they do for food? Who would be the first on the menu? The tourists, the Gruniad reporters, or the climate scientists?
The R.S. Donner Passkiya.
The Chinese icebreaker is stuck. What are the Chinese doing with an icebreaker? Maybe the Russians will send an icebreaker to free the Australian icebreaker that is on the way to free the Chinese icebreaker that was on the way to free the Russian vessel.


Penguins to warmists:
“Wait a minute. You mean you didn’t bring ‘The Desolation of Smaug’? Then what the hell use are you?”

Clay Marley

In his Indiegogo video, Turney says (at about 5:35) that Commonwealth Bay has been badly clogged with sea ice limiting access for the last 3 years. Funny, that is about where they are stuck, off Commonwealth Bay.
They know but they do not understand, their eyes are plastered over so they cannot see, and their minds closed so they cannot understand. They bow down to a block of wood.


From the previous article comments:
Steve McIntyre says:
December 30, 2013 at 9:47 am
Together with Joelle Gergis, Turney was also co-leader of the AUS contribution to the PAGES2K climate reconstruction. Turney was one of the coauthors of Gergis et al, discussed last year at Climate Audit.

Peter Miller

You have to read the Spirit of Mawson blog to understand what a bunch of clowns these guys really are.
I liked the reference to collecting a large number of seal blubber samples – how do you do that without killing the seals? These guys are supposed to be greenies, they can’t kill seals.

How about WUWT offering a donation towards their rescue?


Why is it such a surprise the people who routinely ignore real world observation are stuck in a real world observation. I’m sure their models said the ice wasn’t there


Global Warming Scientists Still Trapped In Record-Level Antarctic Ice

David Becker

The penguins in the first photo appear to be photoshopped in. I am not sure there would be a bunch of penguins right at the location at which the ship is stuck, unless they were just having a good laugh. (I will look at later pictures for a sad polar bear, just in case the biologists aboard are as competent as the “climate scientists.”)