Record Antarctic ice: Mawson base may have to relocate


Mawson base

The record busting growth of Antarctic ice is threatening the viability of Australia's Mawson Antarctic research station.

According to The Australian;

"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."

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You might think the rapid increase in ice contradicts previous claims that Antarctica is warming. You might be worried that if global warming continues to force massive growth in Antarctic ice, other bases might also have to consider moving. Some bases might even have to close.

Thankfully, most climate models indicate Antarctic ice is melting - we just have to wait for the observations to agree with the theory.