Rescue Efforts for Trapped Antarctic Voyage Disrupt Serious Science
By ANDREW C. REVKIN
Early this morning, I received an e-mail message from one of many polar scientists whose important and costly field research in Antarctica has been seriously disrupted by the diversion of icebreakers to try to evacuate the journalists, tourists, crew and scientists on an unessential “expedition” aboard a chartered Russian ship.
You can read the note — from Joe McConnell, an American ice-sheet researcher I met in 2004 in Greenland — after a summary of the situation.
Of course the evacuation of the trapped ship, which will require helicopters given the impassible nature of the thick sea ice in the area, is vital. But when you consider the cost and risk attending the operation, and the impact on other science, this raises questions about the advisability of this voyage in the first place.
If you follow the discussion around #SpiritOfMawson — the Twitter hashtag for the project — you’ll also note how this misadventure has energized climate change contrarians, offering a distraction from serious research on the impact of climate change on Antarctica.