Antarctic ice floe crack forces United Kingdom scientists to leave

Terry Joseph
January 19, 2017

The remote science outpost rests on Antarctica's 500-foot (150-meter) thick Brunt Ice Shelf, which is showing signs of an imminent collapse.

The UK Antarctic Survey had to proceed with an unusual and unexpected move, which was necessary because of a huge new crack in the Brunt Ice Shelf, where the research station sits, as reported by Independent.

"There is no immediate risk to the people now at the station, or to the station itself", said BAS.

According to BBC News, the inhabitants will leave in March.

Sixteen people who were due to stay during the Antarctic winter between March and November will now be moved, the BAS said in a statement.

If you think winter is miserable where you live, spare a thought for the scientists working on the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) Halley VI Research Station.

The station comprises eight modules on hydraulic skis. It was also made to get away from the shelf edge where icebergs are cast into the ocean. All but one of the Halley pods have been moved 23 kilometers (about 14 miles) east, away from an ice crack that first appeared in 2013.

Tim Stockings, Director of Operations at the British Antarctic Survey, told the Telegraph: 'Halley Research Station was designed and engineered specifically to be re-located in response to changes in the ice.

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An enormous break in the ice about 17km north of the station was dubbed the "Halloween Crack" because it was discovered on 31 October.

While it's not a problem to evacuate staff in Antarctica's summer months, things get more hard in winter. BAS now has to decide if any of those experiments can be left running autonomously, or whether it is better to just shut everything down.

The BAS said changes to the ice - and particularly the growth of a new crack - presented a "complex glaciological picture" that meant scientists were unable to predict with certainty what would happen to the ice shelf in the forthcoming winter and beyond.

Options to temporarily redeploy research and technical support teams to other parts of BAS are being explored.

The station is now undergoing a process of relocation, after a fissure - once thought to be dormant - began encroaching on the base in 2012, advancing a mile every year.

However, Stockings added that the station would be re-occupied as soon at the earliest possible after the Antarctic winter.

The station is a platform for global Earth, atmospheric and space weather observation in a climate-sensitive zone.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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