Passengers aboard the Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy remain stranded in Antarctica as stormy weather has halted all rescue attempts. For those of you who are unaware of this situation, this ship has 74 passengers aboard including researchers, tourists, and crew and has been stranded since Christmas. Horrible weather conditions and deep sea ice has made it impossible for this ship to go anywhere, and after analyzing the forecast models, I don’t see the conditions improving for several days at least.
The goal of this trip to Antarctica was to study how much climate change has impacted the landscape over the last 100 years. Ironically, this was intended to show the world how much man has influenced the climate, but the ship is currently stuck in a region that has had record high sea-ice coverage this year. This is the second year in a row, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, that the Southern Hemisphere has had record-setting sea-ice coverage.
A helicopter rescue attempt was planned for today, but due to the strong winds and hazardous weather, it has been postponed until at least tomorrow. This helicopter would have to make several trips to the ship to rescue the passengers, which is just too risky right now. Plans are currently being made to possibly send an American ice breaker if the air rescue attempts are not successful in the near future, but it would take about ten days for this ice breaker to get to where the ship is stranded.
We’ll definitely keep you updated on this current situation at Firsthand Weather and on our Facebook page! We wish all rescue crews and those currently stranded the best of luck!
Matthew Holliday (Curriculum Vitae - Resume) is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma, where he completed a B.S. in Meteorology and a B.S. in Geographic Information Science. He completed his master's degree in meteorology and climatology at Mississippi State University and is currently pursing a Ph.D. in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.