Australia's Antarctic runway melting

Oct 24, 2012
File photo of a plane on the purpose-built Wilkins glacial blue ice runway in Antarctica. Australia said Wednesday it was searching for a new aircraft landing site for planes supplying its three bases in Antarctica because the current runway is melting.

Australia said Wednesday it was searching for a new aircraft landing site for planes supplying its three bases in Antarctica because the current runway is melting.

Australia has three stations on the icy continent—Casey, Davis and Mawson—occupied by scientists and support staff, with the Wilkins , carved into glacial , a vital transport link.

But a surface has started to restrict use of the Aus$45 million (US$46.4 million) landing strip near Casey and the Australian Antarctic Division said they were looking at alternatives.

They include the ice-free Vestfold Hills near Davis.

The Australian Antarctic research station of Casey lies 65 kms from the purpose-built Wilkins glacial blue ice runway in Antarctica. Meteorological stations have shown a temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius in the past 50 years in the Antarctic peninsula, which is roughly triple that of the global temperature rise.

"During the first few years since the introduction of Australia's airlink to in 2007/08 our operations have, on occasions, been hampered by glacial melt at the current Wilkins runway," a spokesperson told AFP.

"The Australian Antarctic Division will investigate a range of alternative or additional landing sites for fixed-wing aircraft near our three stations in Antarctica."

Meteorological stations have shown a temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius in the past 50 years in the , which is roughly triple that of the global temperature rise.

Planes can only land if the temperature is below minus 5 degrees Celsius.

Instead of the 20 flights a season predicted by the Australian Antarctic Division before the runway opened, just two landed in the 2010/11 season with the runway closed from December to February due to melt.

Four landed last season and six are planned this year.

The Australian bases are also serviced by ship but the journey can take up to two weeks, compared to the 4.5 hour flight from Hobart in Tasmania state.

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User comments : 10

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R2Bacca
2.2 / 5 (5) Oct 24, 2012
So they built a $46-million landing strip without fully accounting for the variations in temperature of the region? Sounds more like an engineering snafu to me than global warming as the article suggests...
krundoloss
2.3 / 5 (3) Oct 24, 2012
How in the F&$#! does a strip of ice, that is already there, cost $46 million dollars? Good lord, you would think it would be artificially heated asphalt at that price.
ScooterG
1 / 5 (5) Oct 24, 2012
If all it took was a 2 degree temperature rise to melt the runway and make it unusable, they were foolish to have built it in the first place.
Deathclock
4.3 / 5 (6) Oct 24, 2012
So much stupid... 2 degrees of warming is a HUGE difference, we aren't talking about day to day or even seasonal temperature changes here... we are talking average annual temperature which normally fluctuates only by fractions of a degree.

This is why people don't believe in/understand global warming, they are too dumb to distinguish daily temperatures from average temperature and think that just because it can be 90 in the summer and -10 in the winter that several degrees of change to the AVERAGE temperature is no big deal when it is actually VERY significant.
Jonseer
1 / 5 (4) Oct 24, 2012
So much stupid-people are too dumb to distinguish daily temperatures from average temperature


The problem isn't stupid people, but climatologists acting like idiots to stupid to recognize the limitations of their audience and adjust their speech accordingly.

Not one of them has done that to ensure the least educated audience which is the home to most of the denialists the American public which only understands the F temp. scale.

In fact they do the opposite, they use the C scale, which minimizes things to the ears of most Americans.

Isn't the rise 6-9 degrees on the F scale. It's a change most people can understand even using the faulty context of daily weather.

I blame them, because is THEY are the ones with PhDs. They SHOULD know better.

They need to learn the proper way to talk to the audience that needs to understand the most.

It's marketing 101.

Why the USA sticks to the F scale, that it is so stupid Etc is irrelevant to the discussion.
ScooterG
1 / 5 (7) Oct 24, 2012
Runway construction started in 2006. That means they had a 44-year history of temperatures, yet they built the runway anyhow. Maybe they were enviro-nazi's from the 70's who knew for certain global cooling was imminent?

For an investment this size, two degrees is too slim a margin in any reasonable persons' book. Thankfully (and to their credit) they didn't try to mask their carelessness by blaming AGW.
nuge
5 / 5 (2) Oct 25, 2012
Jonseer, DO NOT blame the scientists. It is the job of the scientist to study the natural world, come up with theories to explain observed phenomena, and then to test those theories through experiment. NOT to simplify those explanations so that even the stupidest, most ignorant people can understand them.

If you want to blame someone, blame the science journalists, whose job IS to explain the science to a wider audience, or better yet blame the politicians, who ought to make critical decisions on the basis of the considered, peer-reviewed, consensus advice of experts in a given field, not on the opinions of the barely informed masses.
VendicarD
5 / 5 (2) Oct 25, 2012
You can't successfully explain science to a rock.

You can't successfully explain science to someone who is willfully ignorant.

Hence you can't successfully explain science to a Conservative.
VendicarD
not rated yet Oct 25, 2012
The Antarctic runway is melting - a physical fact - but the denialists keep telling us that the world is cooling and that their conservative ideology proves that the worlds glaciers are increasing and that the Antarctic is growing in ice volume.

What justice should these Conservative Liars receive for their treason against Humanity and nature?

Public Execution?
rubberman
3 / 5 (2) Oct 26, 2012
I would also point out to Jonseer that tailoring a report to 1/20 of the global population, of which 50% either still wouldn't get it or simply don't care is assinine.

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