Aerial reconnaissance

Published on 10.01.2008 - The Larsen Iceshelf Expedition

The members of Jon Bowermaster's expedition (The Larsen Iceshelf Expedition) have reached King George Island. Before continuing on their way to the Weddell Sea, they carried out a mission of aerial reconnaissance.

The Larsen Iceshelf expedition arrived at King George Island (see our map) on 5th January. Skip Novak's boat Pelagic is dealing well with the seas.As Jon Bowermaster is

very familiar with these latitudes, he is also well aware that the ice conditions – and hence the sailing conditions – can change dramatically in the Weddell Sea from one year to the next.

As part of the planning for this expedition, Jon monitored satellite maps for weeks and even months before setting out. "The Weddell Sea, which is where we are to be exploring," he wrote, "is one of the places in the Antarctic best known for its powerful sea-ice. For the past two months, several enormous icebergs have been blocking the entrance to what is known as Antarctic Sound, which is the route we would normally have taken. Our aim is to venture as far as possible into the Weddell Sea as the ice will allow us. So we needed to do some aerial reconnaissance to see what the best course would be for Pelagic and our kayaks."

So the expedition members boarded a Chilean Air Force Twin Otter for a 3-hour flight over the East coast of the Antarctic Peninsula and, more specifically, over James Ross Island.

As they flew over Antarctic Sound (see our map), they were surprised to see there was little ice covering the strait. But once they were over James Ross Island, they could see that the route they were intending to take with Pelagic, i.e. between James Ross Island and Vega Island, was completely blocked by ice. Bowermaster writes that he still has the maps for 2005 showing that the two islands were surrounded entirely by open water in that year.

As a result, they will have to come up with a new route.

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