Rescue assisted by Antarctic forecasting system

July 05, 2002

BOULDER--A weather prediction system tailored to the challenges of forecasting in the Antarctic is aiding the final rescue of scientists and crew from the German supply vessel Magdalena Oldendorff, trapped in ice near Antarctica since mid-June. The forecasting system is a collaboration between the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado, and Ohio State University (OSU).

The forecasts helped the South African Weather Service guide the ice-strengthened ship SA Agulhas, sent from Cape Town to pick up the stranded ship's 78 Russian scientists and most of its 28 crew members. Two helicopters from the SA Agulhas finished bringing the last passengers aboard late Monday afternoon, July 1, and the ship began threading its way back through the ice to its home port in Cape Town on Tuesday.

The forecasting support continues this week as two icebreakers, the Argentine Almirante Irizar and the Swedish Oden, make their way to the icy Antarctic waters to retrieve the Magdalena Oldendorff and the skeleton crew remaining on board.

Blizzard conditions hampered the mission on several occasions. On Sunday morning, June 30, easterly winds at the Magdalena Oldendorff were averaging 70 miles per hour. Blowing snow reduced the visibility to less than 200 feet and the helicopters remained grounded on the SA Agulhas. The Antarctic Mesoscale Prediction System, forecasting twice a day, provided detailed weather maps showing conditions in the area and successfully predicted a brief window of favorable weather for July 1.

"We've had gratifying reports from the South African Weather Service on the value of the AMPS forecasts to their efforts," says NCAR senior scientist Bill Kuo, one of the principal developers of the modeling effort.

Standard computerized weather prediction models don't work well over the South--or North--Pole because the conditions are so different from those for which they were originally developed. AMPS uses PolarMM5, a version of the fifth-generation Penn State/NCAR Mesoscale Model adapted at OSU's Byrd Polar Research Center to include features particular to the polar regions, such as sea ice. The modeling also helps compensate for the scarcity of weather stations reporting ground measurements across Antarctica.

This is not the first Antarctic rescue supported by AMPS. In April 2001, the system's products were used by an international team guiding rescue flights to the South Pole for the late-season medical evacuation of American scientist Ronald Shemenski.
AMPS runs at NCAR and is funded by the National Science Foundation, which is also NCAR's primary sponsor. NCAR is managed by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, a consortium of 66 universities offering Ph.D.s in atmospheric and related sciences.

On the Web:

AMPS forecasts are disseminated via the Web and may be viewed at .

National Center for Atmospheric Research/University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

Related Antarctic Articles from Brightsurf:

Evidence of hibernation-like state in Antarctic animal
Among the many winter survival strategies in the animal world, hibernation is one of the most common.

Antarctic penguins happier with less sea ice
Researchers have been surprised to find that Adélie penguins in Antarctica prefer reduced sea-ice conditions, not just a little bit, but a lot.

Benthos in the Antarctic Weddell Sea in decline
Over the past quarter-century, changes in Antarctic sea-ice cover have had profound impacts on life on the ocean floor.

Plastic pollution reaching the Antarctic
Food wrapping, fishing gear and plastic waste continue to reach the Antarctic.

Challenge and desire in Antarctic meteorology and climate
The outcomes of the 13th and 14th Workshop on Antarctic Meteorology and Climate (WAMC), as well as the 3rd and 4th Year of Polar Prediction (YOPP) Meetings, was discussed in an article published in the peer-reviewed journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences.

Antarctic ice walls protect the climate
Inland Antarctic ice contains volumes of water that can raise global sea levels by several metres.

Quo vadis Antarctic bottom water?
The formation of deep water, which is an important component of the climate system, takes place in only a few parts of the ocean: In the subpolar North Atlantic and in a few places in the Southern Hemisphere.

Antarctic waters: Warmer with more acidity and less oxygen
The increased freshwater from melting Antarctic ice sheets plus increased wind has reduced the amount of oxygen in the Southern Ocean and made it more acidic and warmer, according to new research led by University of Arizona geoscientists.

Malaria could be felled by an Antarctic sea sponge
The frigid waters of the Antarctic may yield a treatment for a deadly disease that affects populations in some of the hottest places on earth.

Stardust in the Antarctic snow
The rare isotope iron-60 is created in massive stellar explosions.

Read More: Antarctic News and Antarctic Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to