"What the Ice Gets, the Ice Keeps"


We call the Weddell Sea “one of the most remote, harshest environments on the planet,” but why? It mostly boils down to the ice. No matter the season, there is always a lot of ice covering the Weddell Sea, and that ice is constantly on the move. I see an almost entirely different ice landscape every morning when I open my curtains. These conditions make it very challenging for any ship or land-based expedition to access most places within the region. We may have a very technologically advanced ship, the best ice pilots, and up-to-the-minute satellite images of the ice conditions ahead, but even then, we sometimes get stuck. I can sip tea in my heated cabin and write this article while we get unstuck, but I cannot help but imagine the sense of helplessness Shackleton and his crew felt with their fates tied to this unforgiving, ever-changing white desert.

What makes this environment special or different?:

The amount of ice around Antarctica changes dramatically from season to season. In winter (March through October in the Southern Hemisphere), the entire Antarctic continent is surrounded by ice and it is dark 24 hours a day. During the summer (November through February, it is light 24 hours a day and much of that sea ice melts, leaving just the Weddell Sea packed full of ice still.