Brrr… Record Antarctic Sea Ice May Force Scientists to Abandon Permanent Station
In September 2014 Antarctic sea ice coverage reached the highest level since records began. (ABC.net)
Increased sea ice may force scientists to abandon their permanent base in Antarctica.
The Australian reported:
Record Antarctic sea ice is forcing scientists to consider relocating research bases as they struggle to cope.
Satellite observations show a new daily record being set for Antarctic sea ice every day for the past two weeks. Annual records have also been broken every year for the past three years.
Rob Wooding, general manager of the Australian Antarctic Division’s Operations Branch, said expanding sea ice was now causing serious problems.
Last year, fuel supplies were flown to Australia’s Mawson base by helicopter because the harbour had failed to clear. Dr Wooding said the situation was “unsustainable”.
He said it was possible for the Aurora Australis icebreaker to break through a certain amount of sea ice to enter the harbour, and the planned capability of a replacement icebreaker would increase the ability to do this.
But conditions experienced last year of thick sea ice, with snow cover, extending out 40 to 50km could not regularly be navigated by any Antarctic resupply vessel.
“If we were to face such a situation at Mawson for three or four successive seasons, it would be unlikely that we could continue to resupply the station under the current operating model,” he said. “Unless we could find an alternative resupply strategy, questions would arise as to the ongoing viability of the station.”
Antarctica sea ice has increased significantly over the past 35 years.