Tuesday, December 11, 2007, we crossed the
Antarctic circle going south in anticipation of a
landing the next day. This would be the first of
four crossings across the Antarctic Circle (or
eight if you count both directions).
The summer of 2008-2008 witnessed the worst pack ice since records were maintained since the early seventies.
While the rest of the globe experienced global warming, it was cooler than usual in Antarctica. First year ice is usually
not much of a problem. But on this trip we encountered a substantial amount of multi-year ice which is thicker and
harder than first year ice to break (see below). Normally, there is a ridge around Antarctica that stays open as a result
of the Katabatic winds, but this year there was never any opening.
Beyond the Antarctic Circle.
Left, Jackie looks at ice.
Below, right, the ship gets stopped in the ice
and backs up to try again.
The captain (below, left) takes control of the
Late in the afternoon a briefing
was held to tell us that while the
ship could make it to our first
Antarctic landing, Cape Norvegia,
we would consume too much time
and fuel to make this feasible.
Pack ice is rated as illustrated in
the graph at the left. We had
entered 10/10 pack ice. That
meant there were virtually no
breaks in the ice and no where to
push it. The helicopters could not
safely fly us the 54 nm still to go.
The problem was compounded by
the fact that this was multi-year
ice. So, our ship turned north and
then east for the next destination.
The red line is where we had
gone, the blue our new route.
Picture from Heather