Chris Turney, a climate scientist and leader of the expedition, was going to document 'environmental changes' at the pole
In an interview he said he expected melting ice to play a part in expedition
MV Akademik Schokalskiy still stuck among thick ice sheet 1,500 nautical miles south of Hobart, the Tasmanian capital
Called for help at 5am Christmas morning after becoming submerged in ice
Australia's back-up ship, Aurora Australis could not break through
By Mia De Graaf and Hayley O'keeffe
They went in search evidence of the world’s melting ice caps, but instead a team of climate scientists have been forced to abandon their mission … because the Antarctic ice is thicker than usual at this time of year.
The scientists have been stuck aboard the stricken MV Akademik Schokalskiy since Christmas Day, with repeated sea rescue attempts being abandoned as icebreaking ships failed to reach them.
Now that effort has been ditched, with experts admitting the ice is just too thick. Instead the crew have built an icy helipad, with plans afoot to rescue the 74-strong team by helicopter.
The expedition is being lead by Chris Turney, a climate scientist, who was hoping to reach the base camp of Douglas Mawson, one of the most famous Antarctic explorers, and repeat observations done by him in 1912 to see what impact climate change had made.
It is thought that the group, which includes scientific researchers and a journalist, will now be able to escape by air after two sea rescues failed.
Australian icebreaker Aurora Australis was unable to reach them because it was not strong enough to break through.
A top-of-the-range Chinese icebreaker, the Snow Dragon ('Xue Long'), was deployed earlier in the week, and hoped to reach the ship by saturday.
However just after midnight on Friday it too got stuck just six nautical miles from the ship.
The Academic Shokalskiy set off from New Zealand on November 28 to recreate a 100-year-old Australasia expedition first sailed by Sir Douglas Mawson to see how the journey changes using new technology and equipment.
But on Wednesday morning, the boat hit a mass of thick ice sheets and today remains at a stand still.
Chris Turney, an Australian professor who helped organise the voyage on the Russian ship, yesterday posted a photograph on Twitter apparently showing the Chinese vessel, a speck on the horizon beyond an expanse of ice.
'We all know that there's a possibility of this becoming quite a protracted sit and wait,' said Andrew Peacock, a passenger onboard the Akademik Shokalskiy, speaking via satellite phone.
'I think people are just looking at that next step when that second icebreaker arrives.
'We really are just hoping that the two powerful icebreaker ships will provide the breakage of ice that we need.'
However, he said the ice floes appear to have built up dramatically overnight.
They are also continuing their research while stranded by testing the temperature of the surrounding ice sheets.
A spokesman for Australia's Maritime Safety Authority told Australia's Associated Press: 'It is quite a remote part of the world, but we have everyone safe. The vessel isn't in any immediate danger.'
The spokesman said the ship was visiting a number of sites along the edge of Antarctica.
One has managed to send a tweet.
Chris Turney, of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, wrote: 'Heavy ice. Beautiful; light wind. Only -1degC. All well. Merry Xmas everyone from AAE.'
Many pictures at link
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2531159/Antarctic-crew-build-ice-helipad-help-rescuers.html#ixzz2ozuO2G5x
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