Image
© RocketNews
Professor Chris Turney
It appears that now even Professor Chris Turney admits blaming his expedition mishap on global warming was an astronomical stretch after all.

Yesterday I reported here, quoting flagship Swiss Daily (NZZ), that his communication director Alvin Stone blamed global warming for the vessel getting trapped in ice. The whole world laughed.

I couldn't believe it myself so I wrote an e-mail to Stone asking if they really believed this.

Stone answered circa 9 hours later:
Dear Pierre,

That is not quite the quote that I gave.

This is my understanding from talking to Chris and other glaciologists.
  • The 120km long ice berg B09B that is grounded in Commonwealth Bay broke away from the continent three years ago, very likely as a result of climate change.
  • B09B collided with the Mertz Glacier, smashing a large ice tongue that released the ice into that area.
  • It was a mix of this ice that was blown across the path of the Shokalskiy, which led to it being trapped and explains why much of the ice surrounding the ship is old ice.
Chris discusses the situation in a blog entry, here.

I believe you are probably aware of a number of papers this year that show land ice on Antarctica is in decline and that only seasonal sea ice has been expanding, likely due to the increase in westerly winds and potentially because of the decrease in salinity.

Thanks for your interest.
Here we see that the major backpedalling had already begun. This morning in a piece where the Guardian and Turney attempt to defend the expedition, Turney retracts the claim altogether, sort of: In the Guardian article he writes (my emphasis):
Let's be clear. Us becoming locked in ice was not caused by climate change. Instead it seems to have been an aftershock of the arrival of iceberg B09B which triggered a massive reconfiguration of sea ice in the area."

Note here how Turney continues to blame "unforeseen" events for the vessel's fate, when it is now clear from postings and records that they new well in advance there was ice out there and a storm was approaching. His excuses may be anough for the average Guardian reader, but I don't expect they'll hold much water elsewhere.
Expect bogus commissions to clear Turney

I suspect in the end that a commission, even two or three of them, are going to be set up to investigate the whole thing. Then after some months each will issue an authoritive report claiming that although Turney could have done things better, all in all no serious violations were committed and he'll be cleared. Of course everyone will know that the commissions were bogus. And later, with no one watching, future expeditions will be carried out under far stricter oversight.

In the end the taxpayer will pick up the rescue tab and legal expenses.