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Seeking answers in the ice: British research ship to make second voyage to Antarctica

Polar research ship set to make 2nd voyage to Antarctica by The Associated Press | November 18, 2022 at 4:26 a.m.
A general view of the British Antarctic Survey Ship Sir David Attenborough is seen Tuesday in Harwich, England. (AP/Alastair Grant)

LONDON -- Britain's polar research ship is preparing for its second voyage to Antarctica to investigate sea level rises and threats to marine biodiversity.

Jane Francis, director of British Antarctic Survey, which operates the ship named after naturalist David Attenborough, said Tuesday that scientists will study the melting of the west Antarctic ice sheet, how it impacts global sea level rise and when "the Earth goes into irreversible change."

"If that ice sheet does melt, it holds about three to five meters [9.8 to 16.4 feet] of global sea level rise, so what happens in Antarctica won't just stay in Antarctica, it will affect us all," Francis said

The RRS Sir David Attenborough, billed as one of the world's most advanced polar research vessels, completed its maiden voyage in November 2021. It is scheduled to set sail again on Sunday, from Harwich port, in eastern England, carrying around 45 crew members and scientists.

Plans call for the ship to reach Rothera Research Station, on the Antarctic Peninsula, by Christmas and to spend about six months in Antarctica. Along with delivering food, equipment and fuel to the British Antarctic Survey's research stations, the mission calls for carrying out trials of polar science equipment and collecting data to understand how climate change is affecting the region and beyond.

"We need to understand what the water is doing, we need to understand how the air is warming, and we need to understand how the ice is reacting to all of those different factors," Kelly Hogan, a marine geophysicist for the British Antarctic Survey, told reporters during a tour of the vessel on Tuesday.

"To do that, we need to measure lots of different parts of the system to get the big picture. And that's why a ship like the David Attenborough is so important, because we actually have all of the tools and equipment to do all of those measurements in state-of-the-art ways," she added.

  photo  Capt. Will Whatley, commander of the British Antarctic Survey Ship Sir David Attenborough, sits on the bridge Tuesday as the ship is loaded with supplies in Harwich, England. (AP/Alastair Grant)
 
 
  photo  Supplies are loaded Tuesday onto the British Antarctic Survey Ship Sir David Attenborough at her berth in Harwich, England. (AP/Alastair Grant)
 
 
  photo  One of the 4 control stations of the British Antarctic Survey Ship Sir David Attenborough, showing the bow thruster controls on the bridge of the ship, is seen Tuesday in Harwich, England. (AP/Alastair Grant)
 
 
  photo  Kelly Hogan, a marine geophysicist, looks Tuesday at a display of part of the Southern Ocean sea floor map on board the British Antarctic Survey Ship Sir David Attenborough in Harwich, England. (AP/Alastair Grant)
 
 
  photo  A view of seawater filtration pumps is seen Tuesday on board the British Antarctic Survey Ship Sir David Attenborough in Harwich, England. (AP/Alastair Grant)
 
 
  photo  Kelly Hogan a marine geophysicist, sits beside a display of part of the Southern Ocean sea floor map Tuesday on board the British Antarctic Survey Ship Sir David Attenborough in Harwich, England. (AP/Alastair Grant)
 
 
  photo  A view of one of 4 ship control stations is seen Tuesday on board the British Antarctic Survey Ship Sir David Attenborough in Harwich, England. (AP/Alastair Grant)
 
 
  photo  Kelly Hogan a marine geophysicist, sits beside a display of part of the Southern Ocean sea floor map Tuesday on board the British Antarctic Survey Ship Sir David Attenborough in Harwich, England. (AP/Alastair Grant)
 
 
  photo  A view of one of 4 ship control stations is seen Tuesday on board the British Antarctic Survey Ship Sir David Attenborough in Harwich, England. (AP/Alastair Grant)
 
 
  photo  A general view of the British Antarctic Survey Ship Sir David Attenborough is seen Tuesday in Harwich, England. (AP/Alastair Grant)
 
 
  photo  Capt. Will Whatley, commander of the British Antarctic Survey Ship Sir David Attenborough, sits on the bridge Tuesday as the ship is loaded with supplies in Harwich, England. (AP/Alastair Grant)
 
 
  photo  One of the 4 control stations of the British Antarctic Survey Ship Sir David Attenborough, showing the bow thruster controls on the bridge of the ship, is seen Tuesday in Harwich, England. (AP/Alastair Grant)
 
 
  photo  Kelly Hogan, a marine geophysicist, looks Tuesday at a display of part of the Southern Ocean sea floor map on board the British Antarctic Survey Ship Sir David Attenborough in Harwich, England. (AP/Alastair Grant)
 
 
  photo  A view of seawater filtration pumps is seen Tuesday on board the British Antarctic Survey Ship Sir David Attenborough in Harwich, England. (AP/Alastair Grant)
 
 
  photo  Supplies are loaded Tuesday onto the British Antarctic Survey Ship Sir David Attenborough in Harwich, England. (AP/Alastair Grant)
 
 

Print Headline: Seeking answers in the ice

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