Scientists Blame ‘Climate Change’ For Thick Sea Ice That Halted Arctic Expedition

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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Scientists who cancelled their Arctic expedition due to thick ice conditions haves an interesting excuse for why they had to abandon their research project — climate change.

“We’re doing a large-scale climate change study and before we can even get going on it, climate change is conspiring to force us to cancel that study,” David Barber, a University of Manitoba scientist who lead the expedition, told The Guardian Wednesday.

Barber’s expedition set out in late May after being caught in 25-foot thick ice off the northern coast of Newfoundland. The expedition was forced to turn back after spending hundreds of thousands of dollars for a four-year project to study the effects of global warming on Hudson Bay.

Now, Barber and fellow researchers are blaming their botched expedition on global warming, or climate change, as they call it.

Their evidence? Not much, except the opinions of some scientists involved — at least, The Guardian didn’t present any evidence otherwise. The paper just assumed climate change was the culprit.

Interestingly enough, The Guardian blamed a similar event in 2013 as a product of “weather” and not “climate change.” That year, a Russian icebreaker carrying scientists ended up stuck in thick Antarctic sea ice.

“It’s not something you would expect to see there and not something we’ve seen there before,” Barber said. “In the high Arctic, climate change is causing the ice to get thinner and there to be less of it. What that does is that it increases the mobility of ice.”

Scientists studied the ice around them while they were stuck. They noticed lots of multi-year ice more common closer to the North Pole. However, what happened to scientists could be a weather-related event.

Scientists are expected to set out again in early July, but their study will no doubt be delayed.

“We’re very poorly prepared for climate change,” Barber said. “We pay lip service to the fact that we think we know it’s coming and society is trying to grapple with the complexity of it, but when it really comes down to brass tacks, our systems are ill prepared for it.”

This isn’t the first time scientists have been stymied by thick Arctic sea ice. Despite the overall decline in sea ice since the late 1970s, the Polar Ocean Challenge found itself caught in thick ice in July 2016.

The voyage’s purpose was to show “that the Arctic sea ice coverage shrinks back so far now in the summer months that sea that was permanently locked up now can allow passage through.” The ship got stuck off the coast of Murmansk, Russia.

The year before, a scientific mission to the Arctic was derailed by thick ice. The ice breaker carrying researchers had to be diverted to save supply ships stuck in ice in Hudson Bay.

In 2013, the Russian icebreaker Akademik Shokalskiy got stuck in sea ice off Antarctica while carrying scientists to study how global warming was affecting the South Pole. The Guardian blamed that instance on “weather” and not “climate change.”

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