One of the more revealing events in climate-change research has come to a close, at least in terms of the rescue of 52 researchers stuck near Antarctica. The team attempted to recreate the 1911-13 Antarctic journey of Douglas Mawson, only to get stuck in a surprisingly expanded polar ice sheet. A video report leading CNN’s World page claims that they have been rescued and boarded onto an Australian ship that will leave shortly:
CBS reports that the rescue has succeeded, too:
A long-awaited rescue of passengers from a Russian research ship trapped in Antarctic ice for more than a week finally went ahead Thursday morning, with a helicopter safely ferrying all 52 researchers and tourists to a nearby vessel, expedition leaders said.
The helicopter was originally going to airlift the passengers to a Chinese icebreaker, the Snow Dragon, with a barge then ferrying them to an Australian vessel. But sea ice was preventing a barge from reaching the Snow Dragon, and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s Rescue Coordination Centre, which is overseeing the rescue, said the operation would consequently be delayed.
A last-minute change in plans allowed the rescue to go ahead, however. Those rescued were instead flown to an ice floe next to the Australian icebreaker the Aurora Australis, and then taken by a small boat to the Australian ship, expedition leader Chris Turney said.
“We’ve made it to the Aurora Australis safe & sound,” Turney posted on his Twitter account hours after the operation began. He thanked the Chinese and the Australians for coming to the rescue of the Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalski, which has been stuck in the ice since Christmas Eve.
The nine-day crisis unfolded a bit like a Monty Python sketch. A Chinese ship attempted to rescue the MV Akademik Shokalskiy, only to get stopped by the ice as well. A third ship arrived, but could not reach the stranded researchers, either. The rescuers finally used a helicopter when researchers were able to build a crude heliport on the ice that surrounded them, but a barge brought in to move them outside the ice couldn’t reach the Chinese vessel intended for their transport — so the helicopter landed on another ice floe near an Australian ship that arrived.
Oddly, the CNN reports seem to be missing something fairly important to understand the reason why the researchers were out in the Antarctic seas in the first place:
CNN giving the researchers stuck in the ice a lot of play. Not hearing a lot, tho, about what they were researching.
— John Nolte (@NolteNC) January 2, 2014
At least the word “climate” appears once in their web report, although not as an explanation. It doesn’t appear at all in the CBS report. The Associated Press report similarly avoids this key data point. Scott Johnson called this expedition the “ship of fools,” and perhaps that can be applied to these reports on the denouement, too.