Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Yacht Goes Missing off Antarctica

Yet, another ship distress signal this season in Antarctica has occurred. This time it is a private chartered yacht. The yacht recently dropped off two passengers on the continent for a South Pole expedition. Yesterday, the yacht sent out a distress signal, but when the closest ship reached the point the distress signal had ceased operating and the yacht was no where to be found. A few other ships in the area have joined the search and an airplane will likely help with the search when the weather clears.

More on this here.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Google UK Doodle features Ernest Shackleton Today

I usually do not check out Google Doodles, but I just had to when I saw something about Ernest Shackleton having one today in my Google News alerts. Was confused to notice it was not on my google homepage (US), but it totally makes more sense the it is the homepage that has it.

Ernest Shackleton was born on February 15, 1874, so today it honor his 137th birthday. The doodle represents his famous Endurance expedition.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

London Zoo's Bigger Penguin Pool Opening in May 2011

The London Zoo is opening a bigger Penguin Beach pool area for the penguins that live at their zoo. There have been penguins as part of the London Zoo for over 150 years. The new habitat is expected to open on May 27, 2011. The new area is four times bigger and three times deeper than their current exhibit area.

The most interesting addition in my opinion is that the new exhibit will also include a replica field station. This part of the exhibit will be about current penguin research that is taking place in Antarctica.

Read more about this here.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Polar Star Cancels Rest of 2010/2011 Season Cruises

Last week I posted about the Polar Star hitting a rock and then later being evacuated for repairs. Yesterday after divers and shipping experts had examined the damage it was decided that the rest of the cruises for this season will be canceled in order or the ship to be repaired in dry dock. The ship is expected to resume its cruise schedule with the northern season of cruises in May.

Read more about this here.

Previous Related Posts:
Polar Star Antarctic Cruise Ship Runs Aground
Polar Star Evacuated After Inspection

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Robotics Solution Considered for Supplying South Pole Base

The past few years the South Pole Antarctic base has gotten most of its supplies via a tractor caravan that travels from McMurdo Base to the Amundsen-Scott Base. The five vehicle caravan is manned by 10 people and takes about a month to get to the South Pole as it travels 12 hours a day at 5 MPH. The robotic idea is to most use robots and a team of only 2 to rotate 12 hour shifts to keep the caravan moving 24 hours a day to make the trip faster and more efficient.

Personally it seems a team of 2 splitting shifts is not exactly ideal either. I would think it would make more sense to have two teams of two if they are going to constantly have the caravan going, as otherwise each person would be spending most if not all their shift alone as the other person sleeps. Just seems it would be more efficient or they would have to seriously seek out the exact right two people even more particular than making their team of 10 work effectively together.

Read more about this here.

Lake Vostok's Secrets Remain Unreached This Antarctic Summer

This year the Russians were hoping to finally reach the subglacial Lake Vostok. It remains liquid under 3,750 meters of ice due to geothermal heat. The lake is thought to potentially possess prehistoric or unknown life. The Russians had to stop about 5 meters from the drilling finally reaching the lake, since they had to leave Antarctica by February 6 before the onset of winter.

Read more about this here.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Polar Star Evacuated After Inspection

Yesterday I posted about the Polar Star having a hull breach and stopping to be inspected at Arctowski Station before returning to Ushuaia. The ship has now been inspected by divers and it was decided that the passengers would be evacuated and returned to Ushuaia via other Antarctic tourist ships coming through the area. The crew will stay with the ship and return with the ship to Ushuaia after some temporary repairs are done. The delay has made them cancel the Polar Star cruise scheduled to depart Ushuaia on Feb 6.

Read more about this here.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Antarctic Ice Core Sets New US Record

The longest ice core ever drilled by United States scientists was recently recovered. The ice core is the second longest ever drilled measuring 10,928 feet. The ice core was drilled over a course of 5 years from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS). The previous US record was an ice core from Greenland. The longest ever ice core was 12,142 feet and was drilled by Russians in the 1990s by scientists at the Antarctic Vostok station.

The new ice core contains over 100,000 years of climate history. The past 40,000 years of climate date is especially good quality in this ice core, which is being referred to as the WAIS Divide core.

Read more about this here.

Polar Star Antarctic Cruise Ship Runs Aground

Another cruise ship accident has occurred this season, although it sounds like this one is rather minor. On February 1, 2011, the Polar Star Antarctic cruise ship hit a rock in the Detaille area while anchoring causing a hull breach. The ship was on its way back to Argentina from Antarctica. The ship was not evacuated as some news reports have said, but rather the ship continued to sail on the Antarctic Peninsula before stopping at Arctowski Station to have it inspected before returning to Ushuaia.

The Polar Star is the ship I went to Antarctica on (photo in this post is one I took). On my 2004 expedition we were on the other side of an incident in that we ended up going to rescue the Vavilov from pack ice since the Polar Star is an icebreaker and we were in the area. There was some damage to the Polar Star when the tow line broke and the ships collided, but totally part of the adventure of the Antarctic and a cool experience despite losing a day of potential landings. Of course, it is not as fun when the Antarctic harshness turns more serious as does regularly still happens.

Read more about this here.