Q is for Question: a short love letter to the scientific method #antarcticalphabet

Query Island is a pimple in the ice at nearly 69° south, its existence a question till 1948. The Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey (predecessor to BAS) named it recognising the difficulty of distinguishing it from the mass of the Peninsula.   That’s science for you: honouring the question. The ‘scientific … Continue reading

Icebergs great and small

Giant icebergs range a long way from home, from their roaring, growling birth. Pushed from glaciers out to float, maybe part of an ice shelf before splitting into massive ice cubes walking across the horizon in dazzling summer light, silent amongst the drifting brash ice. They travel together at first, … Continue reading

#AntarcticAlphabet: O is for oil

Oil drips down the trypots and the rigs. It oozes in tarpits, welling up from the ground, the black gold of fantasy released by water under pressure, the raw hydraulics of fracking. The revolution relies on the stuff; prosperity and peace rise with carbon dioxide released into air and ocean. … Continue reading

Ice sheets in Antarctica: losing or gaining?

A friend recently highlighted last year’s NASA research on Antarctic ice-sheets and asked me to comment. So I’m going slightly away from the journey reprise to take a quick jaunt around some of the latest publications. In short: some ice sheets may be thickening slightly but that does not mean … Continue reading

L is for Language: #AntarcticAlphabet

There is no private, prior language. No baby talk nor word of god has meaning beyond our shared agreement. Today, it seems, our shared language has betrayed us, is fading to leave only the emoticon of a tear.   Real things exist whatever their names on our charts. You can be shipwrecked on … Continue reading

Easter on passage

Life on board It was a great passage to South Georgia. We stood our watches, slept, talked, wrote, took photos. On Saturday we painted Easter eggs in true European style. Sitting here now, in Wales, watching the appallingly low level of debate about the referendum it is a calming reflection. … Continue reading

The harshness of Point Wild

After leaving Penguin Island at 0230 we had an energetic day sailing close hauled in 3m of swell until eventually the wind headed us completely. It was after dark when we anchored close under the south east side of Elephant Island in preparation for rounding its tip in the morning … Continue reading

Penguin island: supermarket of the South Shetlands

There were several Penguin Islands scattered around the world in the days of sealing and whaling and long distance exploration by sail. The ship would turn up and take away thousands of eggs, and slaughter, salt down and stow hundreds of penguins. Calling a landfall Penguin Island was liking planting … Continue reading