Posts Tagged ‘antarctica’

Human activity, threat to Antarctic ecosystem

May 20, 2011

This year, we celebrate the 100th year anniversary of Roald Amundsen’s conquest of The South Pole for Norway on December 14th, 1911. Today, one century later, scientists find out that human activity is a threat to the Antarctic ecosystem, as reported in The Hindu on May 18th, 2011.

Hornfar

AFP

A team of scientists has warned that the native fauna and unique ecology of the Southern Ocean, the body of water that surrounds the Antarctic continent, is under threat from human activity.

Original article here

Invasive Species Carried Steadily in the Antarctic

May 9, 2011

Softpedia news, April 29th, 2011 – original article here

Antarctica was until recently the most pristine continent in the world, but that situation is currently changing. Research scientists, tourists, and just about anyone who sets foot around the South Pole, are carrying bacteria and other organisms that are not indigenous to this area.

For all intents and purposes, we are promoting an invasion that could see the establishing of new species in this clean habitat. While the harsh conditions in Antarctica will take care of most intruders, there are those that will undoubtedly survive.

Some microorganisms are known for being able to survive in space for prolonged periods of time, so they can surely endure in a bit of ice, scientists say. The same holds true for plant seeds that are being involuntarily and steadily carried on the Southern Continent.

 The main risk with invasive species is that they tend to overtake a new habitat by killing off indigenous species. The latter spent millions of years adapting to their environment, and achieving an ecosystemic balance, only to have it all taken away by opportunistic organisms.

“We are still at the stage when Antarctica has fewer than 10 non-native species, none of which have become invasive. Unless we take steps now to minimize the risk of introduction, who knows what will happen,” says expert Kevin Hughes.

The investigator, who holds an appointment as an environmental scientist at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), analyzed some 11,250 pieces of fresh produce in a new study. Together with colleagues, he was trying to determine how many new organisms make their way in the Antarctic via this route.

Experts found 56 invertebrates, which included aphids, butterflies, spiders and snails. Large amounts of soil were discovered on many produce, and more than a quarter of all were rotten due to microbes.

“Are these numbers surprising, or does it mean this is likely to be a problem? It’s pretty hard to say,” comments Daniel Simberloff, an expert who was not a part of the new research.

“The upshot is that there’s just enough people going to some parts of Antarctica nowadays that lots of organisms are carried there,” adds the scientist, who is a professor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

“I have to think this isn’t good, and some subset of them are going to pose environmental problems,” he goes on to say, quoted by LiveScience.

“To be quite honest, the only way we are going to stop the introduction of nonnative species is to stop going to Antarctica, to cut off all the pathways. What we can do is try and minimize the risk of introduction and we can do that by relatively simple steps,” Hughes adds further.

Japan quake shifts Antarctic glacier, New Scientist reports

March 23, 2011

15:45 15 March 2011 by Anil Ananthaswamy
Original article here

The major earthquake that hit Japan on Friday caused a massive ice stream in Antarctica to momentarily speed up.

As the surface seismic waves generated by the quake travelled around the world, they appear to have given the Whillans ice stream in West Antarctica a nudge, causing it to slide by about half a metre.

The movement was picked up by Jake Walter of the University of California, Santa Cruz, and his colleagues, who monitor the glacier remotely from California. They say the event is an “interesting insight”, but are not suggesting it will destabilise the ice stream in any way.

The Whillans ice stream drains ice from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet into the Ross Ice Shelf. Since 2007, Walter and colleagues have been using GPS field stations on the ice sheet to monitor its movements. They have shown that the ice stream speeds up twice a day in slip events which last about 30 minutes.

The glacier normally creeps along at an average speed of about 1 metre per day. But during a slip event, it slides almost half a metre in one go. The sudden slips are related to the tides, and are strong enough to generate seismic waves that are recorded by stations at the South Pole and the Antarctic Dry Valleys (Journal of Geophysical Research, DOI: 10.1029/2010JF001754).

Slipping glacier

Now it looks like the magnitude 9.0 earthquake that shook Japan last Friday caused the glacier to slip in a similar way.

When Walter and his colleagues were analysing GPS data from the ice stream on Monday, they noticed that one slip event had happened earlier than expected. Further analysis revealed that it happened exactly when surface seismic waves generated by the Japanese earthquake would have hit Antarctica.

Large earthquakes are known to create seismic waves which can circle the planet several times before dying down.

“The Chile earthquake from last year also had a similar effect” on the Whillans ice stream, Walter told New Scientist. “It’s an interesting insight into how large earthquakes might affect glacier motion.”

Walter and colleagues now want to examine data from other large earthquakes to see if any others are linked to slip events of the Whillans ice stream.

US Demolishes Old Antarctic Bases

March 22, 2011

Softpedia. com, March 11th, 2011 – Original article here

Since the American flag was planted at the South Pole, on October 31, 1956, the United States constructed three research facilities in Antarctica. Recently, two of them were demolished, and the only structure remaining is a high-tech, latest-generation lab that is perched on stilts.

[I have to add here that the Norwegian flag was planted on the South Pole on December 14th 1911, 45 years before the Americans… and 100 years ago this year. Hornfar]

Image showing the destruction of the Old Pole station. Image credits: Robert Schwarz

For the past 55 years, the US has had a constant presence at the South Pole in terms of science. Its stations were ahead of their time as far as the engineering complexity and technology needed to build them went.

But, with the construction of the new facility, it became clear that there was simply too much effort to manage the separate stations, when a single, advanced one was enough. The costs of maintaining a crew in the Antarctic are very steep, and researchers often deal with lack of appropriate funding.

The Dome Station was disassembled in 2010. The US Antarctic Program had made the announcement some time before, mentioning that the structure had far outlived its shelf life, and that it was becoming a menace for people venturing within.

During this season’s austral summer, construction workers also demolished the original Antarctic station (the Old Pole), which was built for the International Geophysical Year (IGY) of 1957-58.

“It took a lot of effort and a lot of people. But we got it done in a timely fashion,” says of the effort Andres Martinez, who is the South Pole Technical Support manager. He is now based in the new research station, which isn’t actually new, since it was opened in January 2008.

He explains that the first South Pole Station remained occupied for nearly 20 years, even if it was put together hastily, and was buried by Mother Nature under feet of snow. The ice that subsequently formed endangered its crew constantly, and maintenance work needed to be conducted at all times.

“The old station, no longer the object of structural or mechanical improvements, gamely carried on. It showed its years in the distortion of buildings, metal arches, and shoring timbers,” wrote Dick Wolak.

“Its generators were a constant problem, and often irregular in their output. The patchwork of devices used to heat buildings and provide water was notably inefficient in its use of costly diesel fuel.” he added.

The expert was the civilian South Pole Station manager between 1974 and 1975, as researchers were in a period of transition between the Old Pole station and the then-new Dome Station.

Following a series of accidents involving heavy equipment falling through the unstable ices covering the Old Pole station, the US National Science Foundation decided to implode it during the austral summer.

The support beams that held the structure together were blown up, and snow is now forming new ice where researchers worked nearly 20 years for unraveling the mysteries surrounding the Antarctic, SpaceRef reports.

Penguin Colony in the Antarctic Disappears

March 5, 2011

Softpedia News, March 5th, 2011 Original article here

Map 2: Emperor Island, Dion Islands, ASPA No. 107: topographic map. Map specifications: Projection: Lambert Conformal Conic; Standard parallels: 1st 67° 0' 00" W; 2nd 68° 00' 00"S; Central Meridian: 68° 42' 30" W; Latitude of Origin: 68° 00' 00" S; Spheroid: WGS84; Datum: Mean sea level. Horizontal accuracy: ± 1.5 m; Vertical accuracy ±1 m (best accuracy of the control points); Vertical contour interval 5 m (index contour interval 15m).

Biologists have documented the first instance of what they call the global warming-induced disappearance of an animal colony. The experts can no longer find even the smallest traces of a small colony of penguins that once lived on an island off the coasts of Antarctica.

It has been proposed a long time ago that penguins would be among the most affected species when climate change finally struck, right alongside other ice-dependent animals, like polar bears.

But no one documented an actual case of that happening until now. Experts believe that the emperor penguin colony disappeared because of dwindling sea ices around their home island.

The island in question is located off the West Antarctic Peninsula, which is one of the areas that lost the most ice due to the warming climate. Without the shelfs to provide them with support and food, the penguins most likely could not secure enough to eat.

When the Emperor Island colony was first discovered in 1948, it featured about 150 breeding pairs of penguins. An 1978 report showed a sharp decline in numbers, while a 2009 aerial survey found the entire island deserted.

One of the biggest unknowns in this study is whether the penguins died off, or just relocated to a more hospitable environment, says lead researcher Philip Trathan. He holds an appointment as a conservation biologist as the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), LiveScience reports.

An explanation could be that fewer and fewer emperor penguins returned to this location over the years. The animals live for about 20 years, and they tend to return yearly to the site where they hatched.

Over time, it could be that more and more parents from the Emperor Island colony laid their eggs elsewhere. As such, the new generation did not return to the former colony, because they did not know where it was, and had no connection to it.

On the other hand, the researchers did find a connection to climate change and rising temperatures. “The one site in Antarctica where we have seen really big changes is the West Antarctic Peninsula,” Trathan explains in the February 28 issue of the journal PLoS ONE.

Ices in this region were observed over the past two decades forming about 54 days later than normal, and melting some 31 days earlier. This may have also contributed to the decline of the penguin colony. These birds are completely reliant on ice for most of their activities.

The BAS team admits that more studies are required to establish a clear cause for the penguins’ disappearance. “We need to look at more colonies so we can reduce the uncertainty. With the first report, there is a high degree of uncertainty,” the BAS team leader concludes.

Navy Vet: Antarctic Mission Gave Sailors Cancer

March 5, 2011

Navy Sent Crews To Antarctica For ‘Operation Deep Freeze’ In 1960s

10 News, San Diego on March 4, 2011 Original article here

A retired San Diego sailor told 10News he knows why thousands of Navy veterans are suffering from or dying from cancer.

Bill Vogel said he believes the cancer many fellow veterans have been stricken with was caused by a mission to the Antarctic called “Operation Deep Freeze.” Vogel said the mission was for scientific research.

10News learned at least 15,000 military personnel were a part of the mission over the course of nearly a decade and all of them worked near a malfunctioning nuclear power plant.

The McMurdo Nuclear plant was built in Antarctica in the early 1960s and provided power to the base until it was shut down in 1972.

The Navy’s final operating report found the plant suffered from 438 malfunctions during its operation, including leaking water surrounding the reactor and hairline cracks in the reactor liner.

The plant was dismantled when “possible stress corrosion cracking” in the piping system was discovered.

The Navy’s final report didn’t find evidence of excessive radiation exposure.

Vogel’s friend, Charlie Swinney, died a year ago from cancer. Swinney was one of many naval veterans who had similar concerns about their service at McMurdo after being diagnosed with cancerous tumors.

“Charlie had over 200 tumors in his body,” Swinney’s wife, Elaine, said from their Cleveland home.

“He kept saying, ‘This isn’t right. Why are there so many of us in this close group getting sick like this,'” she said.

Naval veteran Jim Landy lives in Pensacola, Fla., and fights stomach, liver and brain cancer.

“Word leaked out, we heard, that the soil around the facility was contaminated,” Landy said.

10News learned the Department of Veteran Affairs denied medical coverage for some of the veterans who worked at McMurdo Station, including Charlie Swinney.

“Charlie just felt like he got kicked to the curb,” Elaine Swinney said. “He felt like he didn’t count. He felt betrayed.”

“You owe them the truth of what happened,” Vogel said. “Then you deal with the truth from that point forward.”

To see the Navy’s final operating report for the McMurdo Station nuclear power plant click here.

 

Antarctic ice sheet built ‘bottom-up’

March 5, 2011

By Jonathan Amos, Science correspondent, BBC News. Original article here

Radar image (AGAP)

Radar reveals the ghostly shapes of the Gamburtsevs and the giant freeze-on “beehive” structure above

Scientists have seen once again just how dynamic a place the underside of the Antarctic ice sheet can be.Survey data collected from the middle of the White Continent shows liquid water is being frozen on to the bottom of the sheet in huge quantities.In places, this deeply buried add-on layer is hundreds of metres thick and represents about half of the entire ice column, researchers say.The discovery is reported online in the journal Science.

Project leaders confess to being astonished by the findings.”It’s jaw-dropping, I have to say,” said Professor Robin Bell from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.”The first time I showed the data to colleagues, there was an audible gasp,” she told BBC News.The new data will add to the understanding of how the ice sheet expands and moves, which in turn will inform researchers as they try to grasp how Antarctica might change in a warmer world.

Twin Otter (M.Studinger)
Twin Otter planes criss-crossed the Antarctic interior with their instruments

The observations come from a major expedition to survey the Gamburtsev mountain range in the polar summer of 2008-2009.Although similar to the European Alps in scale, the Gamburtsevs are hidden under kilometres of ice deep in the Antarctic interior.

“We’ll have to choose a drill site very carefully; we can’t just throw a dart in a board”
Tom Jordan, British Antarctic Survey

An expeditionary team used instrumented planes to gather a wealth of new information about the peaks and their ice shroud. Equipment included radar to see through the ice, showing its many layers, right down to the rock bed. The survey data also gives new insights into how liquid water funnels through the mountains’ valleys.

It is well known that ice sheets grow from the top down, as snow settles on the surface and is compacted over thousands of years. But the new findings illustrate clearly how the sheet can also grow from the bottom up by accumulating layers of liquid water.

Sub-glacial water can be maintained in a liquid state at the bottom of the sheet, either by the intense pressure of the overlying ice or by being in contact with the warmth of the bedrock. But if the water is forced up valley sides to locations of lower pressure, or into ponds in places away from retained heat in rocks, then it will rapidly turn to ice – and can stick to the bottom of the sheet above.

The survey data reveals that this add-on ice makes up 24% of the ice sheet base around Dome A, a 4.2km-high plateau of ice that represents the greatest elevation on the continent. And in some other places, this refreeze phenomenon accounts for slightly more than half of the total ice thickness.

That means in these locations, ice is being created faster on the bottom of the sheet than it is being accumulated through snow deposition on the top.

New dimensions
Liquid water at the base of the sheet has long been recognised to be a “lubricant” for movement, but the latest data adds a whole new dimension to our understanding, said Professor Bell.

“We’ve known there’s been melting under ice sheets from a long time – since the 1960s,” she explained.

“Then it was demonstrated this water could move, it could slosh around; but I think we still had this idea that it just spilled into the ocean.

“Well, now we can show these hydrologic systems are modifying the fundamental stratigraphy of the ice sheet.”

ANTARCTIC GAMBURTSEV PROJECT (AGAP)

Map of Antarctica's Gamburtsev mountains
  • Two camps (N & S) were established deep in the Antarctic interior around the plateau region known as Dome A
  • Aircraft used radar to detect ice thickness and layering, and mapped the shape of the deeply buried bedrock
  • The planes also conducted gravity and magnetic surveys to glean more information about the mountains’ structure
  • By listening to seismic waves passing through the range, scientists could probe rock properties deep in the Earth
  • The Gamburtsev range is totally hidden by ice. In some places that ice covering is more than 4,000m thick
  • A key quest was to find a location to drill ancient ice – ice made from snow that has accumulated over a million years
  • The oldest ice drilled so far comes from a location known as Dome C. It records climate conditions 800,000 years into the past

The discovery also has implications for the search for ancient ice.

Scientists are looking for a location to drill accumulated snow layers, because bubbles trapped in the layers retain information about the climate at the time of precipitation.

Currently, the oldest ice core climate record in the Antarctic extends back about 800,000 years.

Potentially, a core drilled from around Dome A could find ice that was laid down more than a million years ago.

The latest data could have a positive or a negative bearing on that search, said Dr Tom Jordan from the British Antarctic Survey.

“The new process we’re observing suggests old ice could be pushed up towards the surface, which could make this very old ice that would give you a very long climate record much more accessible,” he told BBC News.

“So instead of having to drill a three-kilometre core, the record might have been pushed to within a kilometre of the surface.

“That’s the good news; but it’s balanced against the recognition that in these places where we’ve found these structures, we may also be getting significant melting, deformation and destruction of ice sheet records.

“We’ll have to choose a drill site very carefully; we can’t just throw a dart in a board.”

The Gamburtsev survey was a flagship expedition for International Polar Year (IPY), comprising scientists, engineers, pilots and support staff from the US, the UK, Germany, Australia, China and Japan.

The team established two field camps from which to mount the airborne campaign.

As well as the ice-penetrating radar, other instruments measured the local gravitational and magnetic fields.

Some 120,000km were flown in total, the equivalent of three trips around the globe.

More than 20% of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet was explored.

Jonathan.Amos-INTERNET@bbc.co.uk

“Berserk” was overloaded to the point of being unsafe, Stuff.co.nz reports

February 27, 2011

The “Berserk” was overloaded to the point of being unsafe, Stuff.co.nz reports.

Original article here

Three die in ‘Viking’ yacht off Antarctica
MICHAEL FIELD, Stuff.co.nz, February 27th

A foolhardy voyage to Antarctica by a group of self-proclaimed Vikings has cost three lives while forcing a New Zealand navy ship and its 55 crew into savage seas, damaging the new vessel. Berserk, a Norway-flagged 45m-long steel yacht with three men aboard, disappeared on Tuesday, in McMurdo Sound, 33km north of Scott Base. Yesterday it was confirmed that an empty liferaft, found by the Sea Shepherd’s Steve Irwin, was from Berserk. There was also debris but no sign of the missing me

Berserk had dropped two other men, with quad bikes bought in Auckland, on the ice. Last night they were trapped on the Ross Ice Shelf, trying to reach Scott Base, before the sea ice, which is breaking up, separates from Ross Island. An Auckland mariner who saw Berserk in the Viaduct said the boat had been made unseaworthy by its heavy cargo, including the quad bikes lashed to the deck. After Berserk’s emergency beacon sent a Mayday signal, ice-strengthened patrol vessel HMNZS Wellington, commissioned last year and in McMurdo Sound, was dispatche

“As we responded, we were stuck in the most intense storm I have ever encountered in 19 years in the navy,” skipper Lieutenant Commander Simon Griffith told Stuff yesterday from inside the Antarctic Circle, enroute for Dunedin and a Thursday docking. Hurricane force winds up to 182km/h “exploded off the Ross Ice Shelf” and sharp swells of 8m slammed into HMNZS Wellington. Spray turned to thick ice on the decks. Aerials, lighting and speakers were swept away. Griffith ruefully noted they even lost their stern light. Liferafts were ripped off. “We still have enough on board to keep us safe,” he says. In the midst of it, Griffith got word of the Christchurch earthquake; he kept it to himself for 12 hour

Wellington made it into the lee of Mt Erebus but once they entered McMurdo Sound they got slammed again. “They were the biggest seas I have ever come across, but it was pretty obvious the ship was up for it.” Nothing of Berserk was found. On Monday they had met Berserk at Back Door Bay, where Shackleton’s Hut stands. “They gave us a call and asked us for a packet of cigarettes. We did not have any, but we gave them a cigar,” says Griffith. The yacht was warned severe weather was coming. “The yacht seemed a very sturdy, oceangoing yacht and they were three cheerful Norwegians.”

Berserk leader Jarle Andhoy, 34, and Samuel Massie Ulvolden, 18, were attempting to reach the South Pole to mark the centenary of Norwegian Roald Amundsen’s South Pole expedition. The three left on the yacht were Robert Skaanes, 34, Tom Gisle Bellika, 36, and South African Leonard Banks, 32. Andhoy, a television celebrity in Norway, was fined recently for “trying to talk to the polar bears”. Canadian authorities arrested him on suspicion of being a member of the Hell’s Angels and deported him.

Berserk needed to get permission from the Norwegian Polar Institute to sail below 60 degrees south. Ad Feedback Official Jan-Gunnar Winther confirmed they did not have permission. Scott Base manager Troy Beaumont said the storm which hit Berserk and Wellington was “a bit of a doozy”. “There are a whole lot of treaties down here and they have managed to violate every one of them,” he added. Antarctic New Zealand CEO Lou Sanson told Radio New Zealand the two men on the ice shelf were stuck amidst crevasses in a whiteout with minus 20C temperatures. “Why you would want to drive a motorbike to the South Pole at this time of year is completely beyond us. “It just seems all the safety principles operating in Antarctica have been broke

Auckland commercial skipper Kevin Peat saw Berserk at the Viaduct. “They had all the stuff sitting on the dock and we thought there was no way they could get it onto the boat, but, over a two week period they slowly, but surely, lifted the gear into the boat,” Peat said. “We thought it was a joke, no way you would go with all that gear out it onto the ocean, certainly not the Southern Ocean.” It included 44 gallon drums of fuel lashed to the deck, along with quad bikes. One bike was lashed over the engine room hatch. Berserk was structurally sound but all the weight would have compromised its righting moment, meaning the boat would be vulnerable to capsize. He said it would have cleared Customs but as a foreign flagged vessel, it could not be prevented from sailing, even though it was unsafe.

ICE BREAK HALTS AIRLIFT Meanwhile, an American bid to get as many people back to New Zealand from McMurdo Sound and Scott Base today has run into trouble as the sea ice which holds the runways breaks away from land. The US Antarctic Programme has already moved its 500 people out of quake-struck Christchurch and was last night and today sending two giant US Air Force Globemasters south to bring out several hundred people early before winter. If successful, they will be flown to Auckland from Christchurch today in an RNZAF airlift. Scott Base manager Troy Beaumont told the Sunday Star-Times that the sea was opening up and access to the ice shelf was becoming difficult. “The ice is breaking up,” he said. He said it was likely the Globemasters would be able to land at this point, but it would take staff longer to get onto the ice. Antarctic New Zealand CEO Lou Sanson said they had run into complications now that the Ross Sea Ice Shelf was parting from Ross Island. “We are seeing the biggest ever break out of the Ross Ice shelf in 15 years, our supply lines to the airfield are getting affected,” he told Radio New Zealand.

Norwegian sailboat “Berserk” missing in Antarctica – search is officially ended

February 23, 2011


The Norwegian sailboat “Berserk” sent out a distress call from the Ross Sea in the Antarctic on tuesday, february 22. at 05:20. After a short while the signal stopped, and nothing has beeen heard or seen of the “Berserk” since. At the time, one of the worst hurricane storms for years with winds up to 60 knots and waves 6-8 meters was sweeping the area. The boat with a crew of three is now considered lost, but a land party of two who tried to reach the South Pole on ATV’s, managed to make it to McMurdo Sound base and were flown to safety.

01.03. – Search is officially ended
NRK – original article here
New Zealand Rescue Central tells the NRK that the search is officially ended.

28.02. -Jarle Andhøy dismisses critics: “We have done our job”
NRK.no reports- original article here
The land party from the “Berserk”, Jarle Andhøy and Samuel Massie, arrive in Christchurch by airplane from McMurdo Sound. New Zealand and Norwegian Polar Institutes question the legality of the mission, others question the safety. Jarle Andhøy expresses shock and disbelief that the boat could have sunk, and dismisses claims of negligence of laws and security measures.

“The cackling choir kan scream all they want. We have done our job 110 percent. Nature is nature, the sea gives and the sea takes, and that is something all the boys on board know very well,” Andhøy says.

The Sea Sheperd vessel the «Steve Irwin» concluded their search for the three missing crew sunday, and thinks the crew must have sunk to the bottom of the sea together with the yacht. “These boys were adventurers who knew the risk of going into the Antarctic. When it is your turn to lay down your staff, there is no more beautiful place than here in the Antarctic, quartermaster Howie Cooke on The Steve Irwin told the NRK.

27.02. –  The “Steve Irwin” is now out of the search.
NRK – original article here

26.02. –  The “Steve Irwin” leaves Franklin Island, but continues search
NRK saturday morning, original article here

The “Steve Irwin” is now headed towards the Australian island of Tasmania, but it will search along the Antarctic coast, north of the last known position of the “Berserk”, the rescue center in New Zealand reports.

“They have now finished their helicopter searches – this morning the last helicopter search was done outside of Franklin Island, one of the last meeting points agreed with the crew of the “Berserk”. Nothing has been found” NRK’s Asia correspondent Anders Magnus reports.

Franklin Island was the last one of four meeting points agreed for the “Berserk” crew, and were investigated after “Berserk” captain Jarle Andhøy told rescuers of the meeting points.

Andhøy and Massie arrived at the McMurdo base friday morning around 07:00 Norwegian time, and are waiting to be flown out.

The crew of the “Steve Irwin” have now put their helicopter away after 18 hours of searching. Two other cruiseships sailing through the area will also continue the search.
“Detailed searching is now scaled down, and even if the New Zealand Rescue Central say that they will not give up until all hope is lost, it is seems to be clear now that the boat might have sunk” Magnus reports.

Mike Roberts, who leads the Maritime Rescue Central on New Zealand confirms that there will be no more helicopter searches on account of the pilot being exhausted.

“We will contine searching for a few days. The only hope of finding survivors is if the boat is still floating. If you fall in the sea, even wearing a survival suit, you cannot survive more than two hours in the water, which holds 2 minus, Roberts say.

The Russian scientific vessel, the «Professor Kromov», which helped earlier in the search, will also participate in further searches while it is in the area. The “Preofessor Kromov” was criticized by the crew of the “Steve Irwin” yesterday, who felt they had gotten very little support in the search.

“We have exhausted all options”
Sea Sheperd make it clear in a press release that the search is not over, and that captain Paul Watson intends to continue the search until they are asked to stop by the  Maritime Rescue Center in New Zealand.

“We have exhausted all options. Our search has been very thorough, and we have searched the whole area from the McMurdo sound to the Franklin Island three times” Paul Watson says in a press release.

There is still a possibility the “Berserk” could have drifted north, something Sea Shepherd wans to investigate. Watson is quite shure, though that his crew has found what is to be found. In Watsons estimate, his crew has done a fine combed search of an area of about 4000 square kilometers.

25.02. – The search continues
VG, friday 15:02 Norwegian time, original article here
“The “Steve Irwin” is on it’s way out into the Ross Sea to search two of four contact points where the crew of the “Berserk” had agreed to meet”, Geir Mortensen at Hovedredningssentralen in Norway tells VG Nett. Mortensen says they have regular contact with the rescue central on New Zealand. The latest information says the “Steve Irwin” is headed north to continue the search.
“They are to continue towards Franklin Island in the Ross Sea, one of four contact points for the “Berserk”. On their way there, they will also search Beaufort Bay, also one of the contact points.”

Friday noon:
Paddle oar believed to be from the “Berserk” found

NRK reports, original article here

“We’ve just stopped the boat to retrieve items that may be from the “Berserk”‘s life raft, says swedish crew member on the “Steve Irwin”, Luz Rivas. The items found are a paddle oar, 12 water bottles and several other plastic items that have yet to be identified. She denies they are wreckage from the “Berserk” itself. “We have not found any indication that the boat has gone down, but at the moment, it looks pretty hopeless.”

The «Steve Irwin» is now the only ship still searching for the Norwegian sailboat “Berserk” which has been missing since a distress signal was triggered from the boat tuesday morning.
According to the New Zealand rescue central, the other ship participating in the search, the “Professor Kromov”, was relieved of it’s duties last night.

“We are still hoping to find the three missing persons, but hope fades as time passes without results, spokesman Nick Churchhouse says. In his estimate, the finding of the empty life raft is a bad sign. “If the raft was torn off in the storm, that could mean the crew had no other way out if the boat went down. You can draw your own conclusions from that.”

Friday morning:
Life raft from the “Berserk” found

A liferaft confirmed to be from the Berserk was found at 09:AM local time friday by the helicopter from the “Steve Irwin” – New Zealand Herald reports:

New Zealand Herald 5:33 PM Friday Feb 25, 2011 Original article here

An empty and damaged liferaft found in the Southern Ocean off Antarctica early today has been confirmed as belonging to the missing Norwegian yacht Berserk. The liferaft was found about 9am by a helicopter from the Sea Shepherd Conservation ship Steve Irwin, which had been searching for most of yesterday and for several hours today. Paul Watson, the skipper of Steve Irwin ordered a seaboat launched to recover the liferaft. The liferaft, the same make as that carried on the Berserk, had a torn canopy and was missing its first aid kit and survival knife.

The National Rescue Coordination Centre in Wellington said there was no sign the liferaft had been occupied and it may have floated free from the vessel and not been released manually. Berserk landed its skipper Jarle Andhøy on the ice with another crew member as part of an expedition to the South Pole. Mr Andhoey confirmed to the rescue centre the liferaft was from Berserk. The Steve Irwin and a helicopter continued to search the area but no further trace of the missing vessel or the men had been found.

The water temperature was about minus 12degC, meaning survival was only a few minutes.

– NZPA

Friday morning: Life raft from the “Berserk” found
The Herald Sun

Friday morning, a raft was found by a helicopter from the “Steve Irwin”. Paul Watson, captain of the “Steve Irwin told the Herald Sun the Berserk had most likely sunk. “We will continue searching but the boat and debris would not have drifted further north than this raft,” he said. “In my opinion, the conditions at the time of the distress call presented some very serious threats to such a small vessel.” The weather in the area tuesday was extremely bad, with hurricane winds up to 80 knots. Waves as high as 8 meters were reported. The water temperature would have been about minus 12degC according to the Herald Sun, meaning survival would only have been a few minutes.

Watson on the possibility of survival:
The New Zealand TV channel TVNZ has more from Watson and the rescue crew:
Original article here

(Watson) ” ..said conditions were so bad, spray was freezing in the air as his ship ploughed into the heavy seas. The missing yacht had a liferaft on board but Watson said whatever occurred must have been very fast. “They didn’t manually call or put out a distress signal. It was an automatic distress signal from an EPIRB (emergency beacon) that got detached and was activated by the water. Usually that doesn’t happen unless the boat sinks or is turned over.”

The yacht had dropped two crew members off on the ice to trek to the South Pole. Watson said the duo had given him a idea of Berserk’s position but a search of about 90 percent of the area had found nothing.

“If the vessel is floating we should have found it. All I can think of is that it got holed by ice and went down. He said he had seen “pop up growler” icebergs. “You don’t even see them and they just pop up like a cork. They are solid blue ice and can do some serious damage.”

The search began after the yacht’s emergency beacon sent out a signal on Tuesday afternoon. It stopped transmitting after several hours. The two crew members on the ice are safe and well but still a day or two from McMurdo base.

Thursday noon:
Lifeboat found, turns out to be from the “Wellington”
The weather in the area is now good, and Paul Watson of Sea Shepherd has had a helicopter in the air the whole day.

“The sun is shining, unlike yesterday, which had a terrible storm, causing the New Zealand military vessel “Wellington” to abort and turn back. Yesterday we found a lifeboat that for a while was thought to be from the “Berserk”, but turned out to be one of three lifeboats the “Wellington” lost in the storm”, Watson says. The “Steve Irwin” will continue their search for at least another six hours.

The area has now been thoroughly searched by helicopter, and further searches will continue further north where the boat might have drifted.

The missing crew of the “Berserk” are:
Tom Gisle Bellika (36), Norway, presumed to be in charge in captain Andhøy’s absence
Robert Skaanes (34), Norway
Leonard J. Banks (32), South Africa

According to Andhøy, Bellika had extensive experience with rough weather and the “Berserk” in particular, having joined Andhøy on two previous missions. Andhøy is concerned about hearing nothing from the crew on the boat for days, but is an optimist and thinks they might have sailed out to sea to be safer in the storm, according to this NRK article. “I have told the rescue central that Gisle (Tom Gisle Bellika) likes to go out towards open sea when there’s high wind and he has trouble. I hope this can be of help for the people searching for the “Berserk”, the captain told NRK.

Thursday morning at 8:40 Norwegian time:
Land party are alive and well

The land party consisting of captain Jarle Andhøy (33) and Samuel Massie (18) have used satelite phones to tell the world they are alright. Using ATV’s, they have reached the South Pole and are now heading back to meet the boat, which they did not know was missing. They expect to reach the coast in three to four days. The three people in the sailboat “Berserk” have still not made contact since their distress signal was triggered early tuesday morning. The weather has calmed down a bit, and two ships and a helicopter have been searching for the “Berserk” reports Nick Churchouse at Maritime New Zealand at about o6:00 thursday morning according to VG Nett. According to Churchouse, the weather conditions in the area are now quite good, with small waves and good visibility.

The search parties will continue until 11-12:00 before evaluating what to do next.

Nuno Ramos, who works on the vessel “Steve Irwin” confirms that so far, nothing has been seen of the “Berserk”. “But the “Steve Irwin” and the “Professor Kromov” and helicopters are still searching” he told VG Nett thursday morning. VG Nett quotes Captain Paul Watson of the “Steve Irwin” as saying “If they are in the water, they are in trouble”. Captain Andhøy of the “Berserk” have been in contact with the rescue central and given information as to where the “Berserk” was likely to be, which was in the same area where the searches have been carried out. “We will continue to focus on this area in our further searches”, Ross Henderson at the New Zealand rescue central reported at 03:30 thursday morning

Wednesday:
Search vessels are on the way

‎From Wild Vikings Facebook site, as reported by Marit Sumarvald earlier wednesday morning:
09.23 : Wind down to 20 knots. Searches are expected to commence today.  Sea Shepherd vessel (The Steve Irwin) is on it’s way to the area. They are carrying a helicopter. The vessel is expected to reach the area in 12-14 hours, but the helicopter can start ahead with the search a bit earlier.

Wednesday, addtional update from Marit Sumarvald:
11.20 Still hopes of helicopter search this evening or tonight. Two boats are in the “area”, but distances large. One Russian and one American ship. Rescue vessels from NZ had to re-tank. Calmer winds now. The distress signal was sent from inside the bay. Hope that was their rescue!

According to Ocean News Explorers Web, the Russian vessel is the “Professor Kromov”.

Marit Sumarvald:
Status kl 12.55 : Winds are getting stronger. Nearest boat will arrive at the earliest in eight hours because of weather conditions. This ship has a helicopter on board! Dette skipet har helikopter om bord!

(The boat mentioned is the Steve Irwin, flag ship of Sea Shepherd, which carries on board a helicopter.)

Marit Sumarvald:
Status 16.20: The boat is getting closer. Weather conditions still too poor to fly. New weather prognosis expected within two hours. So far reports say the weather is getting better. In that case, the helicopter can fly into the area before the boat gets there.

NRK reports on the distress call apparatus:

“Distress calls rarely stop after such a short time.” According to Tore Hongset at Hovedredningssentralen (the rescue central in Norway), the “Berserk” is equipped with a distress call unit and two satelite phones. The distress call apparatus can be triggered manually by the crew, or it can go off automatically if the boat is covered with water.

It is not known if the distress call was triggered automatically or manually. The distress signal is picked up by satelite and then transmitted to rescue centrals in the area.

According to the Norwegian rescue central, an apparatus like this can transmit it’s signals for two to three days before the battery runs out. The signal from the Berserk stopped after about an hour.

“Only rarely does a signal like this stop after such a short interval”, Hongset says and adds that there could be several reasons for the signal to have stopped.
“The crew may have turned it off, the satelites could have problems picking up the signal, or the battery may have run out. But at this point, we know very little of what might have happened.

The “Berserk”  is a 48ft (14m) steel hulled sailboat led by captain Jarle Andhøy who has produced several reality TV-series from his sailboat expeditions. He has led different crews of “wild vikings” towards the North Pole, around the Kola peninsula and through the Northwest Passage, often surrounded by controversy.

Their current mission in the Antarctic was to follow in the footsteps of Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen, and according to NRK wednesday, two of the crew has left the boat and the three remaining crew in the boat sent out the distress signals at 05:20 yesterday before radio contact was lost. It is now confirmed that the land party was captain Jarle Andhøy (33)  and Samuel Massie (18). They have now been in touch with the rescue centrals and are doing fine, expecting to reach the coast on their ATV’s in three to four days.

Rescue crews on New Zealand are ready with airplanes and helicopters to join the search for the “Berserk”, NRK reports wednesday morning. A New Zealand marine vessel in the area had to abort it’s search and turn back because of the bad weather, which has remained unchanged since wednesday morning.

“The weather is very bad and changing, with high waves (up to eight meters) and poor visibility”, rescue leader Øyvind Aadden reports to the NRK wednesday morning.

According to the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand, the “Berserk” was 18 nautical miles (33 km) north of the Scott-base when they sent out the distress call at 5:20 tuesday morning.

Until it was safe to go into the Ross Sea with boats, rescuers were collaborating with bases in Antarctica to see if it was possible to start searching with airplanes.

Jonas Qvale, Friday, February 25. at 08:40 PM

Shackleton’s whisky stands up to test of time

January 19, 2011

Radio New Zealand, 19 January 2011 Original article here

Bottles of whisky encased in Antarctic ice for more than 100 years have been found to be in good condition after being returned to Scotland from New Zealand in a private jet.

The three bottles were slowly thawed at the Canterbury Museum in New Zealand and opened in August last year.

Eleven bottles of Mackinlay brand whisky dating from 1896, made by the Whyte & MacKay company, were discovered at the hut of Sir Ernest Shackleton in 2006.

The Shackleton expedition was unsuccessful and the base and the whisky were abandoned in 1907.

On Tuesday, Whyte & MacKay’s master blender Richard Patterson drew out a sample by syringe and judged the whisky only by smell, as no one has yet been allowed to taste it.

“My initial reaction is very, very interesting, but I must wait and see. It’s that lovely rich, golden colour.

“This is a whisky that’s been kept stable for these number of years and I think when Sir Ernest Shackleton tasted this it was a great honour for him, as it is an honour for me too.”

The original recipe for the blend no longer exists, but distillers hope they can replicate it.

 

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