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The Perils of the Antarctic

By Linda Tancs

Perhaps the words of science fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson, “First you fall in love with Antarctica, and then it breaks your heart” should be changed to “First you fall in love with Antarctica, and then it breaks your boat.”  The perils of Antarctic expeditions were underlined with the recent sinking of the Explorer.  Thankfully, all passengers and crew survived.  There’s no doubt that the wind-driven and swiftly moving ice of the Antarctic imperils any vessel there, but with today’s post-Titanic advances in mapping and sonar technologies, how–and why–does an Explorer-type incident occur?  After all, we can trace a mad cow to its birthplace on a farm anywhere in the world.  Is an iceberg any less significant?  Maybe it just comes down to the numbers involved, but polar research will be driving climate science and experimentation in the years ahead.  That should bring the safety of polar travel to the forefront.

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