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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

MV Akademik Shokalskiy struck in ice - in Antarctica

Chennai is lot cool…………. Chill in the mornings and in Delhi it was around 10oC………  Thaw refers to the process of melting, or: to go from a frozen to a liquid state (melt)

Bluff is a town and seaport in the Southland region, on the southern coast of the South Island of New Zealand. It is the southern-most town in New Zealand (excluding Oban) and, despite Slope Point being further to the south, is colloquially used to refer to the southern extremity of the country. According to the 2006 census, the usually resident population was 1,850, a decrease of 85 since 2001 ~ some passengers boarded the ship from this Port on a month-long expedition and are in news.

Yuly Mikhailovich Shokalsky,  was aRussian oceanographer, cartographer, and geographer. He is credited with more than 300 articles….  His most important monograph was Oceanography (1917), a collection of his lectures which examined connection between meteorology and hydrology and emphasized the importance of monitoring marine phenomena in order to understand global changes of climate. His name is given to the Shokalsky Strait connecting the Laptev Sea and the Kara Sea, to the large Shokalsky Island in the Kara Sea, and to the ship Akademik Shokalskiy.

It is vast ~  ice-covered continent, surrounded by stormy, icy seas - Antarctica is indeed a challenging place to reach! Only the most adventurous would plan to visiting the freezing ice and snow….  The World's 5th largest continent is 98% covered with ice which averages 1.6km in thickness. The ice sheet contains 90% of the world's ice and 70% of the world's fresh water.  Antarctica is not a country; but governed by a treaty of many nations, preserving Antarctica for peace and science ~ its estimated penguin population is more than 50 million (7 of the 17 species of penguins) ~ it has no permanent human inhabitants, 1000 to 5000 work in scientific bases …. It is Antarctica- the coldest, driest, windiest and highest continent on earth. Uninhabitable to land animals it is paradoxically home to abundant wildlife during the summer season.

There is news now that the ship MV  Akademik Shokalskiy is apparently stuck in ice part-way through her Australasian Antarctic Expedition towards Mawson's Hut at Cape Denison. According to reports nobody is in present danger and three nearby icebreakers are being sent to assist. The Akademik Shokalskiy is a fully ice-strengthened expedition vessel renowned for polar exploration, because of its strength, maneuverability and small passenger numbers.  MV Akademik Shokalskiy  was built in Finland in 1982 and originally used for oceanographic research.  In 1998 it was fully refurbished to serve as a research ship for Arctic and Antarctic work.

70 humans are reportedly on board the stranded vessel - 50 tourists and 20 crew members  who were on a tour from New Zealand to visit several sites along the edge of Antarctica. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) received a distress call on Christmas morning, notifying the rescue co-ordination centre that the ship was trapped in ice and would need help.It is not known how long the ship has been unable to break free from the ice floes ~ but all those on board are reported to be safe.

How alone is understood by the fact that the nearest ship is two days away, 1,500 nautical miles from the tourist boat – and until rescue vessels  reach closer, it will not be known whether the passengers would have to be taken off the ship and moved out of the area on larger vessels.  It is reported that the stranded ship was on a research expedition to commemorate the centenary of Australian geologist Douglas Mawson's exploration of Antarctica.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

25th Dec 2013.

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