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The Ant­ar­c­tic is living up to its repu­ta­ti­on of being a con­ti­nent of ice this year. Well, it does not exact­ly come as a big sur­pri­se that the seas around Ant­ar­c­ti­ca have ice. But it is inde­ed a hea­vy ice year, and it would be nice if the ice charts were a litt­le bit more pre­cise and relia­ble. We are now in the nor­the­as­tern Ross Sea, 250 nau­ti­cal miles nor­the­ast of the Bay of Wha­les, and accor­ding to the satel­li­te-deri­ved ice chart we should have most­ly open water here. But one drift ice field is fol­lo­wed by the next one, and even though the avera­ge ice cover is no more than 2/10 to 4/10, we do have den­se fields with lar­ger, stron­ger floes quite regu­lar­ly and need to maneou­vre around them or careful­ly break through them. Not only is this a lot of hard work for the Cap­tain (I don’t think he has left the bridge at all last night) and his guys, but it also slows us down con­sider­a­b­ly.

Yes­ter­day evening, a snow show­er decreased the visi­bi­li­ty to almost zero, and when the curtain went up again, the ice was pret­ty den­se in most direc­tions. A first heli­c­op­ter ice rec­ce flight cover­ed 60 miles (nau­ti­cal) in our gene­ral sou­thwes­ter­ly direc­tion, achie­ving infor­ma­ti­on about a navigab­le rou­te, but not dis­co­ve­ring gene­ral­ly open water. We are eager­ly awai­ting the fur­ther deve­lo­p­ment.


But the way is the goal (does that trans­la­te ..?). The won­derful world of the ice, inclu­ding smal­ler tabu­lar bergs every here and the­re, was lying around the ship last night, in the soft light of the ant­ar­c­tic mid­night sun. Emper­or pen­gu­ins on the ice every now and then. The ama­zing beau­ty of the col­dest end of the world.

last modification: 2015-01-27 · copyright: Rolf Stange