So near, and yet so far: The Chinese icebreaker Snow Dragon (Xue Long) sits in the Antarctic icepack, unable to get through to the Akademik Shokalskiy on Saturday. This picture was taken from the Shokalskiy.
For the past week, 74 scientists, tourists, journalists and crew members have been stuck aboard the Akademik Shokalskiy in the midst of an expedition to celebrate the centennial of Australian geologist Douglas Mawson’s polar odyssey. So far, thick ice and bad weather have foiled efforts to free the ship. The Shokalskiy’s passengers have ample supplies — but at some point, rescuers will have to decide whether to keep trying to break the ship loose or evacuate it using helicopters. The Chinese icebreaker Snow Dragon (Xue Long) tried to approach the Shokalskiy over the weekend, but had to stay miles away because it couldn’t crack through ice that ranges up to 10 feet (3 meters) thick. An Australian icebreaker, the Aurora Australis, is in the area but waiting for the weather to improve.….MORE