The Spirit of Mawson

ATTP has a post on this, from which I've nicked most of my links. But he also has 50+ comments, so I abandoned my original plan to put some observations there, where they'd get lost, and have written this.

I'm not going to pretend my opinion - for that is all that this is - is definitive. I worked in Antarctic science a while ago, but never went South myself. But I'll pretend I can evaluate some of this stuff.

Other people have written stuff:

* Andy Revkin
* the Frogs seem very unhappy
* Chris Turney defends himself in the Graun.
* Their blog.
* SPRI's own "Bob" Headland isn't impressed

I'd say there are two interesting questions: was their expedition sufficiently sciencey to ward off criticism; and, if it wasn't - if it was largely a jolly - were they reckless? After all, no-one criticises pure tourist ships for going south (actually that's not true: plenty of reflex enviro keep-ant-pure stuff exists, but that's a different matter), so tourism itself is not a sin, but they tend not to go far south. And this stuff was rather definitely far south. BAS regularly sends people down for jollies, sometimes thinly disguised as "need to familiarise HQ staff with Antarctica", but no-one believes that. They were selling places on the trip.

I think that a question asked by AR was the trip important enough to justify the cost that is now mounting? is obviously *not* the right question to ask - if they knew they were going to get stuck and need rescue, then obviously they wouldn't have gone. A righter question would be was the trip important enough to justify (the cost that is now mounting) times (the probability that cost would be incurred)?

If you read their science case you notice that there's an awful lot of blurb and padding before you get to their actual science case. Which is:

1. gain new insights into the circulation of the Southern Ocean and its impact on the global carbon cycle
2. explore changes in ocean circulation caused by the growth of extensive fast ice and its impact on life in Commonwealth Bay
3. use the subantarctic islands as thermometers of climatic change by using trees, peats and lakes to explore the past
4. investigate the impact of changing climate on the ecology of the subantarctic islands
5. discover the environmental influence on seabird populations across the Southern Ocean and in Commonwealth Bay
6. understand changes in seal populations and their feeding patterns in the Southern Ocean and Commonwealth Bay
7. produce the first underwater surveys of life in the subantarctic islands and Commonwealth Bay
8. determine the extent to which human activity and pollution has directly impacted on this remote region of Antarctica
9. provide baseline data to improve the next generation of atmospheric, oceanic and ice sheet models to improve predictions for the future

Of those, I think that 1 isn't desperately plausible: that kind of thing needs a concerted programme, not a one-off. They may have thrown some argo floats off, which is nice, but the regular resupply ships can do the same. 2 I have a hard time believing as well. I doubt they were equipped for it.

3 and 4 are believeable, but crucially don't require going far south into the sea ice. Indeed, those were done on "leg 1", not "leg 2" where they got into trouble.

5, again, can't really be done on a one-off. They probably intended to look at a few birds, but there are loads of people down there doing that kind of stuff anyway. 6 ditto. 7 is squishy bio stuff so I don't know, but I'm doubtful. 8 sounds dodgy - surely the Australian Antarctic Programme does this kind of stuff?

9 is too vague to mean anything. Richard Tol makes some of the same points at ATTP.

CT says

The AAE is inspired by Mawson but is primarily a science expedition; it will be judged by its peer-reviewed publications

which may be true eventually, but certainly isn't true now; and he can't possibly believe that everyone is going to suspend judgement for several years. He also says:

The aim of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE) is to lead a multidisciplinary research programme in one of the most scientifically exciting regions of our planet, straddling the Southern Ocean and East Antarctic. Using the latest in satellite technology, we are beaming images, movies and text in an attempt to excite the public about science and exploration...

This puzzles me. Here he is, trying to defend its sciencey-ness, and the first thing he does is talk about attempt to excite the public about science and exploration.


From what I've seen, which is a distinctly non-exhaustive survey of Stuff, I don't think their expedition was sciencey enough to ward off criticism. Were they reckless? Well, not quite reckless perhaps, but they were a long way South in what appears to be an isolated area, which was perhaps incautious.


Well, not much chance to leave it there. ATTP added the big issue... is whether or not their decision to go as far South as they did with the ship they were using can be justified which is another question. They weren't in an icebreaker, they were in an "ice strengthened ship": see wiki. So they were safe(the Russian crew is still on board,and has not been evacuated), but they risked getting stuck. And even icebreakers can get stuck, unless they're really sooper, as the Chinese proved. BAS, for example, doesn't operate icebreakers.

[Further update: but in This was no Antarctic pleasure cruise in Nature, CT says the Russian icebreaker MV Akademik Shokalskiy. That leads me to re-read their website, which says "you can book a berth and join us on the amazing Shokalskiy, a true expedition vessel"; which elides the question. But the brochure clearly states "the Shokalskiy, is a true expedition vessel. Built in 1984 for polar and oceanographic research, she is fully ice-strengthened". Anyway, now that a major question turns around the ship getting stuck, I think its bad that CT isn't being more accurate about the nature of the ship.]…

Another Question: how far are they away from a Proper Scientific Base? How far from Mawson? I haven't seen this written explicitly - or if I have, I've forgotten - but I get the impression that its a Long Way - 1000 km or so. Were they only 10 km away, or perhaps even 100, that would alter the "risk" case. [In the continuing bizarre blog-storm on this, Shub Niggurath Climate has a moderately detailed chronology of the ship's getting stuck. It might even be accurate, who knows. I certainly don't understand Turney knew southerly winds were prevalent and would likely drive pack ice against their vessel. Perhaps SNC means "northerly"? [Later update: CT gives a rather shorter and not entirely compatible version of events at Nature.]

[And yet another update: McI has one of his usual detailed, but not entirely to be taken at face value, posts. Note in particular how he is careful to assign all responsibility to CT, and doesn't even consider that the Captain might in any way be responsible. However, the compilation of imagery and positions is useful. What's missing it the meteorology: having wind overlaid would be very useful, since the movement of sea ice is a key part of the story.

In one aspect McI scores a definite hit: CT claimed (in the Graun) that We worked on our research programme with the Australian Antarctic Division and other bodies and the expedition was considered significant enough to be given the official stamp of approval. In this recording (at about 1:30) Tony Fleming, director of the Australian Antarctic Division very clearly states that only the Env Impact Assessment was approved; they didn't consider the science at all. CT is telling porkies.

OTOH, Fleming makes clear his opinion that the Captain is the one ultimately in charge of safety.]


* Eli Is Puzzeled
* The Trapped Polar Expedition: Spectacle or Serious Science? - attempts a summary of various discussions, including this one.


More like this

"attempt to excite the public about science and exploration."

I suspect that this was the main focus of the expedition. Worse, I also suspect that they only wrote *that* because they couldn't admit that they were on a PR exercise to promote the global warming narrative.

By Jonathan cook (not verified) on 05 Jan 2014 #permalink

Perhaps the rightest question is to ask would be 'is (the cost that is now mounting)*(the probability that cost would be incurred)*(the actual significance in the scale of things) >= (the fuss that is being made)?'

How on earth could an obscure, extremely expensive voyage to a bunch of abandoned huts in the middle of freakin' nowhere serve as a viable means of promoting the GW narrative? If these folks had not been trapped in the ice, which is hardly an unusual event in Antarctica, absolutely nobody would ever hear of this voyage to nowhere. (They say the Australian icebreaker was trapped in ice for three weeks starting in last November).

OPatrick makes the key point, IMO. To extend his point, most of the people making the fuss are trying to do so to destroy the credibility of climate science. Check all the articles on WUWT. See GWPF's website where 3 of their 8 articles are about this ship.

[Well, yes. That's what they're for. Its no good complaining about them doing that -W]

Also watch Richard Tol's tweets and recent comments on ATTP to see him playing the attack dog. Richard likes to walk that fine line of criticizing climate science yet adhering to the general conclusions of AGW, so we'll see how he explains his current actions here.

[I disagree with you. And essentially agree with RT. As I said there, and as you can gather from what I've written here. I think the reception RT is getting there is shameful -W]

Either way, most of the focus on this ship is from non-scientists and there are many examples. I don't see anything wrong with scientists questioning the purpose, risk and costs of the expedition in order to better plan out future ventures. Again, though, that isn't what this fuss is about.

[No, but its the bit I'm interested in -W]

Ah, but it's not the GW narrative that is being promoted here, is it? Rather it is the anti-science narrative that is getting a nice airing by the usual suspects and their congregations.

[Well, yes. That's what they're for. Its no good complaining about them doing that -W]

Is it any good complaining about you doing it though?

[You can, though I don't know what you mean by that, so you'd need to clarify -W]

Although of course I don't really object to you wading in on this, it's out there already anyway, but I do think you could at least have acknowledged at the start the bad faith of so many of the accusations. And Tol's assosciation with the GWPF does make it difficult to give him the benefit of the doubt given their particularly nasty lines of attack.

[That, say, WUWT or the GWPF acts in bad faith is too obvious to need commenting on. That Tol's association with the GWPF - of which I was unaware; oh, you mean he's on their - pfft, I don't care -W]


[... I think the reception RT is getting there is shameful -W]

Not at all. RT is concern trolling. His previous behaviour has not endeared him to anyone from the blog owner on down.

[Really? I see him making perfectly valid comments about the science they claimed to be doing -W]

To be clear, I don't disagree with what you have written above, so I can easily see why you feel RT is getting a rough ride. But to me, that is to ignore what RT is doing - and his affiliation with the GWPF - and I'm not prepared to do that. Not even for you ;-)

If you want to focus on something worthwhile, focus on his contention that a sudden and unpredictable outbreak of ice suddenly blocked their egress. To me he appears to be correct.

[I'm a bit dubious about that. But I don't have the facts or data, so you can just have some thoughts: sea ice moving is a commonplace. If you're going in, and you need drones to scout a route, that's looking dodgy already. I'd need to see the ship's exact route, and sea ice maps from satellite, to comment better -W]

My complaint is, as I said, that you don't acknowledge at the start the bad faith motivating most of the commentary on this story.

[Oh, I see. Certainly I agree re WUWT etc.; but its not at all clear the same is true of Revkin; or Headland; or the Frogs; or Tol -W]

I've no problem with your position on this, but it is what many people want to hear and certainly what the 'sceptics' want heard - that WUWT, GWPF et al are acting in bad faith may seem too obvious, but saying it nonetheless would help to prevent people using you to parrot what they want said.

This site has daily images, not great resolution, of Antarctic sea ice.

CH has similar images on his blog, but they appear to have slightly better resolution. The ship was off Cape De La Motte - not far from the Mertz Glacier.

[Yes, but it needs the ships track on the images. The ships-track the SoM website provides has large gaps. I don't know why - they must have constant positions -W]


First, I'm very surprised that you are so dismissive of RT's affiliation with the GWPF. Second, I'm equally surprised that you don't see what RT is doing, which many people perceive as going beyond asking reasonable questions about the science. Anyway, enough. I'm repeating myself.

I'm not sure about Revkin's standard hand-wringing, but what people like Headland and Frenot say is largely irrelevant to the point. You know how these things get played out, why not take a moment to at least acknowledge that at the start and make sure that no-one can be in any doubt about what, as others have pointed out, is by far the more significant story?

[why not take a moment to at least acknowledge that... I ignored that a couple of times, and probably shouldn't have. But the answer is No: I don't want to write my posts cringing to other people's errors, or worrying that someone could quote me out of context if determined to do so -W]

[I think the reception RT is getting there is shameful]

I have to say, that I'm surprised you think this. I'm always open to criticism and maybe you have a point, but I'm slightly confused as to what part is shameful. Personally, I've had enough crap from RT over the last few months to worry too much about what I say to him (I finally blocked him on Twitter after one too many infantile tweets from him). That may slightly colour my responses to him. He's also perfectly capable of giving as good as he gets, and do so regularly. Some of what he said did make sense (and I thought that was acknowledged), but when an economist starts pontificating about biology, I'm not about to step in and stop people from giving him a hard time.

[Meh, "shameful" is a bit strong. But I'm not sure you're deserving your Trying to keep the discussion civil at the moment (I'm not really speaking about your comments, but about the others you've allowed through). RT can be annoying, I agree. And the bit about bio was written after my comment was written -W]

By And Then There… (not verified) on 05 Jan 2014 #permalink

Although I don't think this was your intention, in your update you say

ATTP added their decision to go as far South as they did with the ship they were using can be justified which is another question.

which makes it sound like I was claiming it "can be justified". I actually said "whether or not their decision to go as far South as they did with the ship they were using can be justified."

[I did say it was a question, but I agree it can be misread, so I've (silently) expended your quotation to make it clearer -W]

By And Then There… (not verified) on 05 Jan 2014 #permalink

Well, their amateur style wasn't very helpful for reaching our goals. I hope indepentend media, like this blog, will restore the trust in science, destroyed by some big oil advocates not knowing the difference between weather and climate.

By Max Erwengh (not verified) on 05 Jan 2014 #permalink

While reciting their science goals as stated on the website, you neglect to quote the statement at the end: "All our science work has been approved by the New Zealand Department of Conservation, the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service and the Australian Antarctic Division."

Some of the science is described in their individual blog posts as the missions were being performed. More telling to me is the size of their shore-based scientific team. Would there be any reason for the shore-based entourage if this was merely a touristy jaunt?

[I didn't even read the text at the end. Whether it means anything, or is just boilerplate, I can't tell. As for "size of their shore-based scientific team": again, I find this hard to tell. Is there a personnel list for the expedition somewhere? -W]

By Kevin O'Neill (not verified) on 05 Jan 2014 #permalink

[I'm not sure you're deserving your Trying to keep the discussion civil at the moment]

To be fair, I have been contemplating changing it to "Trying - but failing - to keep the discussion civil".

[Its not easy. Its hard to cut back comments from "your side" -W]

By And Then There… (not verified) on 06 Jan 2014 #permalink

Yves Frenot, Director of the French Polar Institute.

"This kind of commemorative expedition has no interest from a scientific point of view"

"But we are relatively lucky. The Chinese have had to cancel all their scientific programme, and my counterpart in Australia is spitting tacks with anger, because their entire summer has been wiped out."

I suggest that the response from this notable scientist summises the scientific content of this jaunt and the real effect it has had on science in Antarctica.

[Weeeell, maybe. Bear in mind that "real" scientific institutes that run their own Ant programmes are always sniffy about anything that smacks of tourism, so I don't think you can trust him to be unbiased. That doesn't mean he is wrong: only that you shouldn't take what he says without salt -W]

By Adam Gallon (not verified) on 06 Jan 2014 #permalink

Regarding the issue of it being a tourist venture it occurred to me to think about it in the context of the future of science in space, which appears destined to be linked to commercial, and perhaps touristy voyages. In an era of government spending cuts it might be that Antarctic science will increasingly rely on some kind of tourism angle to secure funding.

As you say, the purely publically-funded scientists will be sniffy, but they might have to get used to it.

Richard Tol must have spent all his waking hours commenting on this expedition. He has tweeted repeatedly, commented on the Guardian article, again at ATTP, presumably at BH.

The man is obsessed. I guess that happens when you loath climate scientists but are not bright enough to challenge them directly on the science. I mean the poor old sod has built his reputation on papers based around a piece of software written in 1000s of lines of C# code that has no comment lines! And no accompanying documentation! If that software was written by one of my staff, they would have been sent for retraining or dismissed.

No wonder he has an inferiority complex. And no wonder he stalked Frank Ackerman who pointed out that the emperor had no clothes.

He could hardly let go a chance to bash a professor of climate science over this issue. And most of the time, he was running so close to the lynch mob, they could feel his hot breath on their necks.

I enjoyed your post when you called Roger Pielke Jr a tosser. Like to explain to me the difference between Richard Tol, Roger Pielke Jr and Judith Curry? I cannot see it.

[Tol is valuable. By that I don't mean he is always right. In the divide-by-zero stuff you referenced (yes, I know that wasn't all of it) it looks to me as though he was right, and his "opponents" wrongly refused to admit this.

Oh, and you ask about Tol and Curry. Try -W]

"The Chinese have had to cancel all their scientific programme, and my counterpart in Australia is spitting tacks with anger, because their entire summer has been wiped out.”

Is there any evidence to support this? It seems improbable to me that a few days out would wipe out an entire summer, but I suppose it depends on what the Chinese and Australians were doing. Does anyone know?

On the Spirit of Mawson website, right next to the Science Case menu option you'll find Expedition Leaders. Under that choose AAE Science Team

[Leticia Lentini is the Events and Branding Marketing Manager for Google Australia and New Zealand...? Seems odd. But even if you winnow those few out, that's not what I wanted. I wanted to judge the sci/pr balance; not just see one side of it. So I wanted to see the full expedition list, categorised, accurately -W]

By Kevin O'Neill (not verified) on 06 Jan 2014 #permalink

WMC: 'Perhaps SNC means “northerly”'

Southeasterly. That's the prevailing direction and Turney said that southeasterly winds pushed ice past where the Mertz tongue used to be to where his ship was (which was/is about 70 miles from a French base).

Turney's ice maps are hard to decipher. Bremen Uni has better ones. Eg:…


The ship got stuck just off the coast at 144 and a bit E - in the little purple splodge shown in both of those pix just where the paler grey turns a corner.

By Vinny Burgoo (not verified) on 06 Jan 2014 #permalink


Have you been keeping up with RT's commentary at ATTP? I would be interested to know at this point if you still endorse his behaviour.

[A lot of people have said things there I would rather they hadn't. Its a classic case of no-one being able to stop; everyone must have the last word. I've seen it time and again -W]

" In the divide-by-zero stuff you referenced (yes, I know that wasn't all of it) it looks to me as though he was right"

you're saying that you agree that he was libeled?

[I wasn't commenting on that; only on the narrow technical issue of whether /0 was a problem in the code. Which I haven't examined, of course -W]

Vinny Burgoo - I tried to get WC to look at that yesterday. Look at the images from before Christmas, and those starting on the 24th.

Do you think the leading edge of the Mertz Glacier has changed shape?

This is from the May 2013 US EPA Technical Update. The EPA uses the FUND model (along with PAGEs & DICE) to estimate a social cost of carbon.

"In FUND 3.5, the coefficients of this loss function are modeled as the ratio of two random normal variables. This specification had the potential for unintended extreme behavior as draws from the parameter in the denominator approached zero or went negative. In FUND 3.8, the coefficients are drawn directly from truncated normal distributions so that they remain in the range [0,) and (,0] , respectively, ensuring the correct sign and eliminating the potential for divide by zero errors."…

Still think Tol was correct in stalking Ackerman who pointed out the above issue?

[Did you read what Tol said? He addresses that point -W]

Maybe not Curry who has completely lost the plot but definitely Pielke Jr.

I understand you do software development William. Download that IAM code and have a squiz. The climate skeptics have been bashing climate models for years - they could actually do something useful if they started picking at the IAMs.

[IAMs are, as I understand it, written typically by individuals or small teams - this seems to be Tol and A. N. Other. AOGCMs by contrast are usually written by much larger groups. So I'd expect the IAMs to be more informal, or something. Of course they're also smaller -W]

Well, for whatever reason - limited attention span? - the denier assaults on The Grauniad's two comment sections have reduced down to about new a post every few hours from their earlier frenzy of several per minute.

I still find myself wondering wtf was that all about?

JCH, #29: Sorry, I missed that. You did indeed.

The Bremen stuff is better than Turney's Hobart's (a future bestselling brand of onion-flavoured crisps?) but it's still not great. Resolution too low to draw any conclusions about... stuff.

Plus it can't compete with straightforward and straightforwardly gorgeous satellite photography like this (3rd Jan):…

By Vinny Burgoo (not verified) on 06 Jan 2014 #permalink

Nordhaus was not impressed by Richard's dance. Basically RT said that they knew about the problem and controlled for it, but since it was not explicitly dealt with in the program, others who used FUND were in trouble.

[Errm, but you're writing that as though Nordhaus was an independent disinterested observer. He isn't. And his understanding of Auto software is definitely shonky. However, he may be right - I certainly haven't checked the details -W]

However that was not the most important point that Ackerman and Muntz made with respect to how FUND calculated the optimum temperature for crops. This part of the AM paper pretty much explains why FUND finds such a large ag benefit for some temperature increase.

By Eli Rabett (not verified) on 06 Jan 2014 #permalink

"I'd expect the IAMs to be more informal, or something"

Sorry my mistake, I thought you were a software developer.

[I'll assume that's snark on your part, though I'm afraid I'm missing your point -W]

In my world crap software is never acceptable because it is inevitably used for decision making. Which is why we insist on thorough documentation, both inside and out and comprehensive test plans.

The interesting point of this is how conflicted Tol is, on the one hand private funding good, on the other hand peer review and private funding bad.

By Eli Rabett (not verified) on 06 Jan 2014 #permalink

Vinny Burgoo - those are amazing. Just an aside, on 12-07-2103 one can clearly see the outline of B9-B iceberg lying across the outskirts of Commonwealth Bay.

Anyway, I think it clear that the glacier edge does not change on 12-24.

On the days when cloud cover is light enough, I'm seeing ice flowing from to the area left of the glacier, going across it's leading edge, and continuing out into the area off Cape De La Motte.

You seem to have a clear idea of where the ship is located. Can you reference the spot in any way in the photographs. I've read it's off Cape De La Motte, which I think is clearly outlined to the immediate right of the Mertz Glacier.

Agree with Eli vis a vis Nordhaus. And Ackerman said the divide by zero was a red herring and the more significant problems lay elsewhere.

By Kevin O'Neill (not verified) on 07 Jan 2014 #permalink

Having perused Tol's lamentable contributions on the ATTP thread I'd propose a new verb toling: to wildly invent malicious insinuations without any factual evidence whatsoever.
E.g. McIntyre spent years toling Mike Mann.
Watts wasted years of his life toling the global temperature record.

Congratulations Richard, I'm sure at least the GWPF appreciates your climate science educational outreach efforts.

Having perused chek's lamentable, blogospheric career-contribution to the bull-shit pollution of our planet, I'd propose a new noun "chek-ist":

--a chronically [misc obviously unacceptable insults redacted -W] and always delivered with such a smug, flamboyant flourish of grotesquely misplaced self-confidence in their cutie-pie cleverness, as to partially, at least, confirm the oft-derided, "denier", conspiracy-theory "ideation" that the hive's Youth Masters inhumanely employ massive, mind-destroying doses of "over-praise" and "unearned-praise" to brainwash the least promising of their proto-flunky hive-larvae.

[This is pretty close to the redact-completely threshold. But having allowed through the insult to RT, I really have to allow through some version of this. Please don't use it as an excuse for tit-for-tat -W]

Mike fails to engage with anything of substance regarding RT's performance on the ATTP thread [redacted - W]

[No, sorry. I don't want this to degenerate into a pro-vs-anti Tol thread. Quite enough of that has already been said elsewhere; everyone already knows everyone else's opinions -W]

Hey chek! [Redacted. Was I really not blunt enough before? -W]

JCH: 'Can you reference the spot in any way in the photographs. I’ve read it’s off Cape De La Motte, which I think is clearly outlined to the immediate right of the Mertz Glacier.'

I think it was just outside the left side of the bay to the right of Cape de la Motte (as seen in that EOSDIS view), perhaps 10 miles from the nearest coast.

The Grauniad's map showed it about 100 miles from the nearest coast, but, hey, it's the Graun.

By Vinny Burgoo (not verified) on 08 Jan 2014 #permalink

[Redacted. Enough comments about Tol that have already been said multiple times -W]

OPEN LETTER to PROF CHRIS TURNEY [Spam redacted. Find it at all the obvious places, if you want to -W] (This has also been emailed to Prof Turney directly with a note that it is being posted on about 15 climate blogs.)

By Visiting Physicist (not verified) on 09 Jan 2014 #permalink

Too much intellectualism. Dipshiats went to Antarctica and ignored local weather. They ignored ship captains request to return so they could leave. They ignored or failed to acknowledge that others were in a better position to do the same research. Just like the current polar vortex doesn't mean squat for climate change, but it will kill you if you think climate change meant shirtsleeves forever. Ice in AA will continue to decline "on average" for the next 2 months. Betting that it will decline around your vacation ship is foolhardy. Future junkets should require a support vessel. McMurdo is now faced with a reduced list of experiments and real science. Whether it could have been forecasted is debatable but ignoring the ships captain when he says "we need to go" is reckless.

By Tim Beatty (not verified) on 10 Jan 2014 #permalink

Tim Beatty, the ship's captain has the ultimate responsibility. He thus must have ignored his own advice, since he didn't go.

[I agree this is true, in principle. In practice, the balance of power between captain and expedition leader is more complex. That the Russians are hiring out their research vessels suggests they're a bit desperate, so the captain may have had instructions from his institute not to upset the paying customers. But that is speculation; and I'm pretty sure that *legally* there is no doubt that the captain is in charge -W]

"They ignored or failed to acknowledge that others were in a better position to do the same research."

This is true of nearly every research project. If research were restricted to only those in the best position to do the best work, the number of academics employed to do research would plummet …

This voyage would barely have created a stir if there weren't some climate researchers involved. The denialist camp has no valid answer to the basic foundations of the science underlying climate change, and hasn't forever. Thus the endless ad hom attacks on the likes of Mann. The attacks on this voyage are simply ad hom write large, masked by a thin veil of concern trolling.

chek, 01/06

My observation is on the general press hype that there is ample “menace” that a “rescue” effort needs to be mounted. Several decks of cards likely put off for a time the horrid fate of being discarded because of wear from use by the expedition personages that were taken off, and their departure cut human provisions depletion rate by ~2/3 (the remaining crew’ll appreciate the filet mignon?).

Oh wait. Never mind. The Shokalskiy and the Xue Long just popped out, once again there're dieseling o’er the bounding main, and good theater was had by all. I really don’t understand why there was ever a request for assistance from the Shokalskiy.

Tim Beatty, 01/10

Agree, except on the, “McMurdo is now faced with a reduced list of experiments and real science.” While some bunker fuel was burned by several vessels in unplanned maneuvering, and at sea and ashore maybe 300-500 people were sidetracked for a week (spin misters not counted) this whole thing is really just a nibble at the budget allowance for weather.

dhogaza, 01/10

“The attacks on this voyage are simply ad hom write large, masked by a thin veil of concern trolling.”

Haven’t followed the whole deal in the insular universe of climate blogs, only minutely sampled some more general media. There, the comments have expressed immense gloating over the irony of a group, seeking to prove the central tenant of the CAGW church, was dragged to perdition by the ice.

By WhiteBeard (not verified) on 10 Jan 2014 #permalink

"There, the comments have expressed immense gloating over the irony of a group, seeking to prove the central tenant of the CAGW church, was dragged to perdition by the ice."

If it was to do science at all, they were going down to study the influence on the INCREASE in ice on the penguin colony, etc.

The "central tenant" of the "CAGW church" doesn't include rapid decrease in antarctic sea ice.

Knowledge fail …