Free Newsletters - Space - Defense - Environment - Energy - Solar - Nuclear
..
. Earth Science News .




ICE WORLD
Braving perilous Drake Passage to Brazil's Antarctic base
by Staff Writers
On Board The Ary Rongel (AFP) March 22, 2014


Furious ten-meter waves and icy, tempestuous gales await those intrepid enough to navigate Drake Passage, the crossing from the tip of South America to Antarctica seen by seafarers as one of the world's most dangerous voyages.

After an interminable 43-hours trip negotiating waters that leave even experienced sailors queasy, the crew and a gaggle of reporters aboard the Brazilian icebreaker and oceanographic research vessel Ary Rongel finally spot land.

As night falls, huge blocks of ice can just be discerned on the horizon, the still blurred contours of King George Island, the largest of the South Shetland Islands and home to a Brazilian research base.

"It is very emotional. The landscape is stunning and you can breathe very pure air," Sergeant Adilson Pinheiro, a 25-year-veteran with the Brazilian navy, tells AFP.

"We can see different animals, such as penguins and sea lions. It is fantastic, very gratifying. This makes up for missing your family -- and for the crossing."

The Ary Rongel is transporting personnel along with provisions for Brazil's Comandante Ferraz Antarctic Station, host to the Brazilian Antarctic Program of scientific research.

The base, inaugurated in 1984, is currently being refurbished with inhabitants living in provisional accommodation units after a fire ripped through it two years ago, killing two staff.

- Natural beauty and hostility -

Drake Passage, which stretches for some 1,000 kilometers (540 nautical miles), represents three-quarters of the voyage from the Chilean city of Punta Arenas to the Antarctic.

"Drake Passage is feared as it is one of the worst seas in the world, if not the worst, to navigate", says 31-year-old skipper, Lieutenant Ricardo Magalhaes.

"West to east it is buffeted by strong winds and many cold fronts with nothing in the way of physical barriers to break the waves which in summer can rise as high as eight to ten meters.

"But good seas don't make for good sailors," muses the navigation specialist, who has 14 years naval service behind him.

It was the lieutenant's Portuguese near namesake Ferdinand Magellan who, financed by the Spanish crown, headed the first expedition to sail from the Atlantic Ocean into the Pacific in 1520 seeking a trade route to the Far East.

After a four-day trip punctuated by poor sleep and seasickness tablets, the Ary Rongel's passengers are up on deck to survey the scenery wide-eyed.

A flock of petrels marks their arrival in a world of natural beauty but also danger.

For a while the waters are calm as the vessel slips into the Strait of Magellan and heads south through Chilean waters, a 600-kilometer trek which takes 30 hours to navigate.

Locally, they call it the Avenue of Glaciers or "ventisqueros" -- a mountainous area wheres snow and ice still lies deep on the peaks even as the Patagonian summer approaches its end.

From there, Ary Rongel steers into Richmond Passage and out into Drake Passage, where the Atlantic and the Pacific meet.

- Military routine -

Days on board the Ary Rongel, affectionately dubbed "Red Giant" by its crew because to its bright red paint, are characterized by strict military routine.

Each day starts at dawn and four mealtimes are rigidly adhered to.

Communications, activities for the day and information on temperature and how long a human being can survive in the sea should the vessel sink are all broadcast over the shipboard PA.

The 82-strong crew, all military, carry out a range of functions from cook to diver, pilot to mechanic, chaplain to commander.

Another 23 civilians -- scientists and journalists -- make up the remainder of the 105 passengers.

On each mission, the crew stay aboard from October to April and will generally make five trips down to the base during that period.

Joining the Ary Rongel, another Brazilian Navy vessel, the Almirante Maximiano, offers logistic support to the group of researchers at the base and elsewhere in the Antarctic, bringing supplies and equipment and taking away trash.

Hercules C130 transports from the Brazilian Air Force also lend logistical support, flying in and out of Chile's Frei base, which has a landing strip that Brazil's own base lacks.

.


Related Links
Beyond the Ice Age






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





ICE WORLD
Computer model predicts vastly different ecosystem in Antarctica's Ross Sea
Washington DC (SPX) Mar 21, 2014
The Ross Sea, a major, biologically productive Antarctic ecosystem, "clearly will be extensively modified by future climate change" in the coming decades as rising temperatures and changing wind patterns create longer periods of ice-free open water, affecting the life cycles of both predators and prey, according to a paper published by researchers funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). ... read more


ICE WORLD
Up to 18 unaccounted for in deadly US landslide

Safety lapses rapped after US nuclear plant fire

Contaminated Fukushima water may be dumped as problems mount

Fukushima: three years on and still a long road ahead

ICE WORLD
Pushing and pulling: Using strain to tune a new quantum material

Lightweight Construction Materials of Highest Stability Thanks to Their Microarchitecture

Oregon physicists use geometry to understand 'jamming' process

It looks like rubber but isn't

ICE WORLD
World Bank approves $73 mn for DR Congo hydro project

Bangladesh's otter fishing tradition faces extinction

World faces 'water-energy' crisis: UN

Deep Ocean Current May Slow Due to Climate Change

ICE WORLD
Back to life after 1,500 years

Permafrost Thaw Exacerbates Climate Change

The Frozen Truth about Glaciers, Climate Change and Our Future

NASA's Operation IceBridge Begins New Arctic Campaign

ICE WORLD
Stanford professor maps by-catch as unintended consequence of global fisheries

Ancient clam gardens nurture food security

Research reveals true value of cover crops to farmers, environment

Study examines pesticide poisoning of Africa's wildlife

ICE WORLD
Ground-improvement methods might protect against earthquakes

Earthquakes Caused by Clogged Magma a Warning Sign of Eruption

Strong quake strikes off Chile

Torrential rains kill 32 in South Africa in two weeks

ICE WORLD
Chinese nationals held in Nigeria for illegal fishing

Peacekeepers seize large weapons cache in C. Africa

French kill jihadist commander in Mali

What sculpted Africa's margin?

ICE WORLD
New stratigraphic research makes Little Foot the oldest complete Australopithecus

Eyes are windows to the soul -- and evolution

Stirring the simmering 'designer baby' pot

Empathy chimpanzees offer is key to understanding human engagement




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.