Antarctic Global Warming Expedition Stuck in Ice for New Year

Image: Antarctic Global Warming Expedition Stuck in Ice for New Year Ben Maddison and Ben Fisk from the Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy work to place a wind indicator atop an ice feature near the trapped ship 1,500 nautical miles south of Hobart, Australia.

Tuesday, 31 Dec 2013 10:58 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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An Australian expedition researching the effect global warming has on Antarctica's ice ring is "stuck in our own experiment" as 2014 rolls in.

The Australasian Antarctic Expedition, traveling on the Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy, has been trapped in ice near Antarctica since last Tuesday, Fox News reports, and members expect to be flown out by helicopter because icebreakers are unable to get through the massive amounts of ice to rescue the stuck ship.

The ice has left 74 scientists, tourists, and crew members stranded, and the expedition's leader, University of New South Wales professor Chris Turney, posted a greeting from the ship on Twitter:

The passengers and crew have to be ready for an evacuation, said Dr. Andrew Peacock, but were still holding a party in the ship's bar late Tuesday.

"We have to be ready at a moment's notice for the helicopter arrival, so staying sober is important," Peacock said.

A helicopter is to be sent from the Chinese icebreaker Snow Dragon when the weather clears, which wasn't expected to happen until Wednesday. The passengers will be returned to the Chinese ship in groups of 12, Fox News reports.

Meanwhile, the Akademik Shokalskiy crew will stay on board and wait for the ice to break up naturally.

On Monday, the expedition issued a statement acknowledging the irony of its predicament.

"We're stuck in our own experiment," the expedition said. "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."

Turney said he hopes to continue the trip if an icebreaker can free the ship.

Meanwhile, climatologist Roy Spencer said he's sure researchers can find a reason that Arctic ice is melting while ice is growing in the Antarctic region, reports Real Clear Politics.

"I'm sure some researchers can find a possible explanation where humans are causing both Arctic ice melting and Antarctic ice growth, but I'm skeptical of scientists who blame every change in nature on human activities," Spencer said. "Nature routinely causes its own changes, without any help from us."

Turney says that he wants to excite the public about science, and that climate change is still a "remarkably solid" and "self-evident" theory.

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