Stephan Lewnadowsky has an article at The Conversation, saying that sceptics are wrong, in their pointing and mocking of the failed Spirit of Mawson expedition.
As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, and by now you might have seen dramatic images of passengers on stranded icebreaker Akademik Shokalskiy being rescued by helicopter last Friday after becoming lodged in Antarctica sea ice on Christmas Eve.
Lewandowsky is, of course, the defender of the environmental narrative. Key to his argument that the sceptics are wrong is a page on the expedition’s website, which seems to claim that the mission anticipated the ‘fast ice’ which came to surround them:
If one goes to the expedition’s website, their first three scientific goals (there are nine altogether) are as follows:
- gain new insights into the circulation of the Southern Ocean and its impact on the global carbon cycle
- explore changes in ocean circulation caused by the growth of extensive fast ice and its impact on life in Commonwealth Bay
- use the subantarctic islands as thermometers of climatic change by using trees, peats and lakes to explore the past
In other words, the expedition is experiencing the very conditions it set out to study — namely the various kinds of sea ice that scientists know are increasing around Antarctica, while the icecaps on Antarctica are known to melt.
However, there is no mention of ‘fast ice’ on the site’s ‘expeidtion aims’ page in July last year, according the Archive.org wayback machine.
Now the expedition’s aims are outlined under a page called ‘Science Case‘, which indeed contains the reference to ‘fast ice’. But according to the Wayback machine, this didn’t appear until November, but the page in question wasn’t captured until January 2.
A Google search for the passage ‘explore changes in ocean circulation caused by the growth of extensive fast ice’ in November yields zero results:
A search for the same expression in December 2013 reveals no links that contain the passage before the vessel got trapped in said ‘fast ice’.
Lewandowsky would no doubt reject this as a ‘conspiracy theory’, but it seems to me that there is no evidence that the reference to ‘fast ice’ on which his argument rests existed before the fast ice engulfed the expedition. It is possible, of course, that my limited web-detective skills and the tools available aren’t equal to the task of proving it, one way or another.
However, further searches in various time-frames for ‘Spirit of Mawson” and “fast ice” reveal very little discussion along the lines of Lewandowsky’s claims. What little there is, contradicts it…
Days 10-18 – 17 to 24 December 2013
Commonwealth Bay And East Antarctic Coastline
We hope to arrive at the fast ice edge in Commonwealth Bay on 17 December and commence our science work and over-ice approach to Mawsons Huts in earnest. Of course our progress will be dominated by weather considerations, but ideally we would moor the vessel against the fast ice edge so that ice and ocean studies can begin and we can send our airborne drone out to view the route towards Cape Dennison and Mawsons Huts. Once a route is determined we believe we will need to use our over-ice vehicles ( Argos) to mark a route then commence transporting scientists and passengers to the coastline as weather and ice conditions allow and the route is safe.
We also expect to move the vessel along the coast to other sites in the region such as Cape Jules, Port Martin and perhaps the French station of Dumont D’Urville.
The Spirit of Mawson’s expedition aims didn’t make the fast ice an object of study as much as it made it a mere port. Who knew that the port would become the storm? Not the Spirit of Mawson team.
Lewandowsky seems to be making stuff up again.