Australian Antarctic Icebreaker Stuck In Ice
By Paul Homewood
News from down under that the Australian Antarctic Division’s icebreaker, the Aurora Australis has just returned safely to Hobart, having been stuck in pack ice for three weeks earlier this month.
The ship was stuck about 80 miles from the Antarctic coastline and the Antarctic Division’s operations manager, Robb Clifton, describing the position at the time, said “"It’s in very heavy ice at the moment and it’s unable to move from its current position because of that ice pack having tightened up from some very strong northerly winds,"
The ship finally broke free on 12th November. A week earlier, the ship log described the ice conditions:-
We are slowly heading towards the open lead only 500m ahead of us. It’s incredibly slow going ramming back and fore into ice that’s an average of 6m thick, and between 15 and 20m in places.
Since leaving ice station 8 yesterday evening we have managed 250 rams and made about three ship lengths (300m).
The cost of the ship being stranded for so long could mean budget cuts to the Australian Antarctic Division’s summer programme. Robb Clifton says “It certainly has an impact, we’re working through that at the moment to see what our various options are for the rest of the season. There’s no doubt it will have some impact so it’s a case for us now, in some cases, switching over to plan B and getting on with the season.”
According to UAH figures, the Antarctic winter this year has been about two degree centigrade colder than last year, and 0.8C colder than the 1981-2010 average.
Meanwhile ABC News reminds us that “Modelling predicts sea ice in Antarctica could decline by 35 per cent by the end of the century.”