Monday, December 30, 2013

Some icy poetic just-ice

On my last post, I posted about record low temperatures in Antarctica. After I did that post, a research vessel got stranded in an ice floe that blew together and froze solid. The floe is approximately ten feet thick. The ship, the Akademik Shokalskiy, is trapped behind about twelve miles of very solid ice. So far, they have not been able to make a trail through the ice, some of the worlds largest ice-breaker ships have not been able to penetrate the icy barrier.
Akademik Shokalskly
The ice-breaker Aurora Australis was the first ship that came to the rescue. It became trapped in the ice for a short time but it was able to break free. The two ships are within clear sight of each other, and there is helicopter transportation in case of a medical emergency, or as will probably happen, they will have to abandon the ship.

From the "Expeditions Online" website: The Akademik Shokalskiy is a fully ice-strengthened expedition vessel built in 1984 for polar and oceanographic research. This class of vessel is world renowned for polar exploration, because of its strength, maneuverability and small passenger numbers. The Shokalskiy provides comfortable accommodation in double and twin cabins with private facilities. All cabins have outside windows and ample storage space. On board there is a combined bar/library lounge area and a dedicated lecture room, where the science team and expedition staff will present a programme of talks.

The ship is of Russian registry and has the following specifications:

  • Classification: Russian register KM ice class
  • Accommodation: 50 berths 
  • Shipyard: Finland
  • Main engines: power 2x1560 bhp (2x 1147 Kw)
  • Maximum speed: 12 knots (2 engines),
  • Cruising speed: 10 knots(one engine)
  • Bunker capacity: 320 tons
I really shouldn't criticize, but some things just scream for criticism. First, it seems that we often read about ships in trouble in the Antarctic seas. Is it really worth all that risk? I have several dear friends that have taken Antarctic cruises. They loved them. they came home with great stories about how they saw ice and penguins... Did I miss something??? I can make ice in my own kitchen refrigerator. You can see Penguins at almost any good zoo. There must have been millions of dollars rescuing these Antarctic adventurers. Who pays for that?  I don't like risk. I won't even risk going on a roller-coaster unless my wife calls me a sissy then I have to, any man will understand that. If people want risk, why don't they do it accomplishing something worthwhile? Like become a volunteer firefighter. Why not save a house or a life? The rewards are immeasurable.

Second: I got carried away on "First". Second: The boat only has 3,120 horse-power that's only 8 times more horsepower than a GTO. Now you see why I call it a boat. It doesn't even have enough horse-power to move the boat, let alone plow ice. Give me a break! Obviously it was built exactly for what it is... being stuck in the ice.

Third: Top speed 12 Knots? People can run that fast. To call itself a ship it should be able to do at least thirty knots. A real ship could do 40.

This 418 foot ship can sustain 45 knots or 52 mph. Photo Dennis Griggs

The thing that I actually find to be the most hilarious about this story is that the boat is in the Antarctic on a scientific expedition studying "Weather Change", formerly known as Global Warming. Karma anyone? Or, Maybe better, hoisted on their own petard.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Indisputable Cold Facts

Indisputable Cold Facts

I’ve had the itch to do a post lately, but it seems like everybody wants to argue over every little detail anymore…. Sooo… I decided to give you some indisputable facts to ponder. Of course, somebody will want to point out what is wrong. I call that arguing with reality. It happens a lot, as you probably know. People believe the darndest things, with no proof what-so-ever. But, such is life.

I read way too much, so I find things out that usually only gets me into trouble. Like, the other day, I was reading that the coldest temperature in recorded history was recorded near the South Pole.

From the British publication “The Independent”, (that’s why All the esses instead of zeezzes)
“Newly analysed data showed the temperature plunged to -93.2C (-135.8F) in August 2010 breaking the previous record for the coldest ever recorded temperature.”

“They made their discovery by analysing global surface temperature maps using data from remote sensing satellites. After studying 32 years' worth of data they found that temperatures had plunged to record lows on dozens of occasions on a high ridge between Dome Argus and Dome Fuji on the East Antarctic Plateau.”

“The new record low temperatures smash the previous low of 128.6 F (minus 89.2 C), set in 1983 at the Russian Vostok Research Station in East Antarctica."

Being a refrigeration guy most all of my life, I worry about cold things. Just the other day I was working on a blast freezer that runs as cold as -30F degrees. I’ve worked on several freezers through the years that ran at -30f. They are cold as all-get-outta-here. Even with arctic garb you can only work a short time inside. So, I got to wondering how cold the real world got. I discovered that the U.S.A got down to -41f in some places last week in the cold snap. To me that is just plain un-survivable! How do they do it?

Just for grins I got the weather forecast for the North Pole. It’s considerable warmer up there. I guess it always has been. Even though the South Pole is land, the North Pole floats on ocean water. And, most of the land masses are in the Northern hemisphere. That changes the temperatures considerably. So… the day I checked it was only -31f. Right now it is -21f. You could check the current temperature at the N.P by clicking HERE:

They say that the Polar Bears are running out of ice to float around on, but I guess that time will tell. Right now they don’t even need ice-picks to get to the seals. It seams to me that it would be fat city for the bears. But… I’ll leave that to the scientists and all the blogger trolls that know everything that there is to know. I’m just going to stick to facts!

From the Farmers Almanac, ( The Farmers Almanac is always right!):
"Winter temperatures at the North Pole can range from about -45° F to -15° F, with the average temperature coming in at -30° F. The average summertime temperature is a balmy 32° F, warm enough for its famed ice floes to begin melting (salt water has a lower freezing temperature than fresh water, causing it to melt at or below freezing).
As punishing as those temperatures may be, though, the North Pole actually has nothing on its southern counterpart at the other end of the globe. With an average winter temperature of -79° F, the South Pole is a great deal colder than the North Pole. The record low temperature at the South Pole is -117° F, recorded on June 23, 1982, while the record high is only 7.5° F. In general, temperatures at the South Pole average 30° lower than the North Pole.
So why is the Southern tip of the Earth so much colder than the Northern tip? The answer lies in the geography of each location. While the North Pole is, by definition, located at sea level – there is no solid land at the North Pole, only a series of icy formations in winter – the South Pole sits 9,000 feet above sea level. Higher elevations are colder than locations at low altitudes, because seawater acts as an insulator, holding in heat from the sun and warming the air around it. Because the North Pole is nothing but seawater, it is able to retain heat more efficiently than the high-and-dry South Pole.
What may be surprising, though, is that the coldest place on Earth isn’t found at either of the poles. The coldest temperature ever recorded, anywhere on the planet, was -128.5° F at Vostok, Antarctica, on July 21st, 1983. Vostok is a Russian Research Station about 800 miles from the geographic South Pole. Located 11,444 feet above sea level, Vostok is higher than the South Pole, and colder on average, at -67.4° F, than the South Pole’s annual average of -56.4° F.

But of course that record was broken as shown above.

Next post: Land Masses