Chinese and Australian scientists are partnering to develop new forecasting methods to aid the challenging task of navigating Antarctic sea ice.

 According to the China daily, the icebreaker ‘Xue Long’ which translates to snow dragon will carry an expedition team of 277 members. The team, working in collaboration with the Australians will cover more than 55,000KM in 159 days.

The Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre (ACE CRC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding with China’s National Marine Environment Forecasting Centre (NMEFC).

The CEO of the ACE CRC, Mark Kelleher said the main focus of the agreement was cooperation to develop scientific methods for forecasting sea ice conditions, in support of the Chinese and Australian Antarctic programs.

“This MOU enables our two organisations to work closely together to solve some of the big challenges associated with sea ice in Antarctica,” Mr Kelleher said.

“Unpredictable sea ice conditions can create headaches for scientific and resupply operations in Antarctica, and the need for a more reliable method of forecasting has become clear.

“We have also seen a number of private and commercial ships becoming stuck in the sea ice in recent years, which can lead to costly rescue operations that delay scientific work.

“We believe this partnership places us in a strong position to take a lead in developing the models and techniques required to provide reliable sea ice forecasting to aid Antarctic shipping.”

In September last year, Antarctica’s sea ice exceeded 20 million square kilometres for the first time in recorded history.

“The patterns of sea ice distribution around Antarctica have been changing significantly. In some regions sea is ice disappearing, and in others we have seen it significantly expanding,” Mr Kelleher said.

“Understanding the forces that shape Antarctic sea ice conditions is not just important for navigation, it helps us to understand causes and impacts of climate change,” Mr Kelleher said.


Source: Baird Maritime