Melting of Antarctica will sink Maldives

Now that ocean sea ice around Greenland and Antarctica is melting and oceans simply expand because their temperatures are increasing, some of the Maldives islands could be vanished within 10 years from now.

Over the last 7 years, satellite measurements have shown that the sea level has been rising at 3.3mm (0.13inch) per year.
This is double of what was recorded in the 1900s. The average height of the 1,200 atoll Maldives islands is only about 1.5 meters or 4.8 feet.

Maldives hasn’t much to protect itself from storm surges, nor rising sea levels rise. Repeated storm damage already denudes the Maldives islands, especially when the reefs protecting the atolls die from ocean acidification.

Maldives and the Carbon World Cup

Bird eye's view of the islands of the MaldivesThe Maldives may, or may not, prove to be the winners of the Carbon World-Cup : the race to see which country actually becomes the first to be completely carbon neutral.

The Maldives recently announced aiming to be carbon-neutral within ten years. Other entrants are other popular vacation destinations: New Zealand, Costa Rica, Iceland, Norway and Monaco.

The Maldives have much at stake, in fact their future may very well depend upon every country entering the Carbon World-Cup. The Maldives Islands will be among some of the first and worst affected low-lying islands to suffer ocean inundation as the sea levels rise.

Sea levels rise because carbon gasses shield the earth from cooling down, hence Antarctica will melt faster.

Explorers’ last Antarctica cruise

Read our previous post about the sinking of the Antarctic cruise ship: the Explorer

The Explorer was on a 19-day cruise of Antarctica and the Falkland Islands, near the South Shetland Islands, letting passengers observe penguins, whales and other wildlife.

You could almost say that this Antarctic cruise was really inspired by the Antarctic explorations of ill-fated adventurer Ernest Shackleton, who made repeated forays in the early 1900s and died in 1922 while trying to circumnavigate the south pole by sea.

Last Friday, the Explorer was as ill-fated as Ernest Shackleton on Thursday around midnight off King George Island in Antarctica. The cruise ship hit "something" what at first sight only made a hole of about the size of one fist. But when the cruise-ship started tilting, the captain was smart enough to start evacuation before I would have been too difficult to lower the rescue vessels on the tilted side.

antarctic cruise ship

Antarctic cruise ship Explorer

Luckily the Antarctica weather was quite good that day: although only -5C (23F) degrees : the sea was calm, which is most important when you want to embark and disembark from a big cruise ship. This made that both passengers and crew escaped unhurt after being evacuated by lifeboats from the 38-year-old vessel.

The Explorer, built in 1969 and refitted in 1993, was a "smaller cruise ship" able to enter narrower bays off the South Pole continent and on each expedition: scientists were on board to brief passengers on the region’s geology and climate change.

The abandoned Antarctica Explorer, which offered two-week Antarctica tourism cruises at a cost of only $8,000 (other sources claim to have paid $14,000 for this 19-day Antarctica adventure) per cabin, sank hours after the passengers and crew were evacuated.

life rafts

Explorer life rafts reaching the NordNorge

After spending most of that night in lifeboats they were pick up by the Norwegian Antarctica cruise ship: the Nordnorge which took the passenger to Chile’s Eduardo Frei air base in Antarctica. It still took the Nordnorge 4 and a half hour to reach the Explorer after they picked up the Explorer’s distress signal. Then only on hour was needed to collect the 154 passengers and crew, rounding up their lifeboats and rubber rafts as meanwhile the crippled Explorer listed ever more steeply to starboard.

Winds began picking up after the rescue. After midday, when the Nordnorge reached a Chilean base at King George Island nearby, the winds and waters were so rough the captain had to wait hours to unload the passengers.

Meanwhile on board of the doomed Explorer, an electricity blackout due to water rushing in, stopped the bilge pumps and the Explorer went on his last voyage down under Antarctica…

Explorers’ last Antarctica cruise

antarctica cruises explorer

Antarctica Cruises Explorer

Meanwhile on board of the doomed Explorer, an electricity blackout due to water rushing in, stopped the bilge pumps and the Explorer went on his most likely last voyage down under Antarctica…

The Passengers from the Explorer Antarctica cruise ship

Antarctica airlines

Passengers from the Antarctic Explorer rest inside
the plane taking them to Punta Arenas, Chile

As by today: everybody has been airlifted already out to Chile.

Antarctic environment disaster

As usual the fragile Antarctic environment is paying the biggest price! Chile’s navy said that high seas and strong winds had already dispersed an 80-meter-by-20-meter fuel slick that had leaked from the ship. The crew of the Viel icebreaker is keeping an eye on the environmental situation. It is said that the Explorer was carrying about 48,000 gallons of marine diesel fuel…

Antarctica Explorer track record

Antarctica MapThe Explorer was a true unique Antarctica cruise ship: not your every day Disney cruise, but a ship made to get you as close as possible for an authentic Antarctic experience.

Launched in 1969 under the name Lindblad Explorer, this so called smaller Antarctica cruise ship was actually the first ship built specifically to ferry tourists to Antarctica so tourists could come up close with the Antarctic penguins.

"Small" meant 100 passengers with a crew of about 50. The modern day huge Antarctica ships like the Golden Princess, carries 2,500 passengers and about 1,200 crew members.

Many of the large cruise ships now visiting Antarctica have little or no ice reinforcement in their designs. These humongous cruise ships generally stay well offshore and only come to the Antarctic continent at the height of summer..

Although the Explorer is not a real icebreaker (which is why I preferred to travel with a real icebreaker like the ones from Quark Expedition (read further at my Quark Expedition) !), Finland and Sweden had certified the Explorer at the highest rating given for non-icebreakers.

Now that the Explorer disappeared beneath the polar region’s waters, it sadly became the first commercial passenger Antarctica ship to sink on the South Pole.

Why did the Explorer Antarctica ship sink?

Watertight compartments were supposed to contain the water and allow the Explorer to remain afloat in case of leakage.

But Leif Skog, who captained the ship while it was owned by Lindblad Expeditions of Seattle, said that the Explorer was designed to withstand the flooding of just one compartment. Any leakage of water into adjoining compartments,
he said, would be sufficient to sink the ship.

The compartment must be completely watertight,” said Captain Skog,
Lindblad’s vice president of marine operations. “If you have a crack between two compartments, you have a problem.

On the other hand: nobody owns Antarctica so there is no law enforcement. Although there is some goodwill amongst the nations, the Explorer was registered in a non-treaty country like Liberia…

Why did the M/S Explorer hit an iceberg?

At this very moment, the M/S Explorer Antarctica cruise ship has an about 23-degree list after it hit an iceberg nearby King George Island in Antarctica at 0524 GMT.

The 100 passengers on board are rescued by lifeboats from 2 nearby cruiseships: the Endeavor and the well known Norwegian Nordnorge.

What is intriguing though is that this Antarctica cruise ship, although its small size is a true Antarctica vessel providing Antarctica expeditions in the truest sense of the word: the M/S Explorer used to go "where other cruise ships cannot".

At only 75 meters in length and equipped with an ice hardened double hull and a fleet of robust Zodiacs, the M/S Explorer Antarctica ship used to be a go-anywhere ship for the go-anywhere traveler, much like the Nordnorge or the sturdiest of all: the Russian cruise ships from Quark expeditions.

M/S Explorer Antarctica shipWith a veteran crew of polar mariners and an experienced expedition team of marine and avian biologists, geologists, historians and naturalists, adventures on the M/S Explorer are usually daring voyages of discovery to the far reaches of the globe with a quest for knowledge and authentic cultural and natural experiences as the driving forces.

So it is quite a mystery so far why it hits an iceberg in the first place… (will be continued)

George Island

ban ki-moon antarctica tripThe UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon has expressed his concerns about climate change after making a historic visit to Antarctica.

Historic because people like you and me need to fork out our own money if we want to take part in the Antarctica tourism…

ban ki-moon antarctica cruiseAfter seeing first hand the impact of rising temperatures, Mr Ban said that there is evidence that "should alarm us all".

What we actually should be alarmed of is all those politicians making the most expensive Antarctica cruise ever on taxpayers money! Ever wondered why there is never any mention about Antarctica hotels?

I mean: how the heck can Mr Ban see in 1 trip that there is a climate change going on in Antarctica? is it that the Antarctic ocean rose 4 inches due to the melting of the ice in the 4 days of Ban’s Antarctica vacation?

King George Island Map

glaciersHighlighting examples of the impact of climate change, Mr Ban said that the glaciers on King George Island have shrunk by ten per cent and warned that the entire Western Antarctic ice shelf is at risk of disappearing completely.

So if it shrunk 10% in 4 days, that means they will be gone in the next 40 days? Or can you only agree that Mr. Ban is wasting money just for his personal pleasure to go on an Antarctica tour!

The secretary-general added that animals living in Antarctica will suffer more than they have already; the penguin population of Chabrier Rock has fallen by 57 per cent during the last quarter of a century.

during the last quarter of a century

Now we are talking: if you really want to experience climate changes, you need to spend 25 years on Antarctica, not doing a 4 day Antarctica trip like Mr. Ban does…

His visit to Antarctica comes ahead of an international conference on climate change in Bali this December. Bali: another exotic travel destination…

King George Island Map

To understand fully where Mr. Ban has been on Antarctica: have a look at the Antarctica Map below or read more on the detailed King George Island Map page from our Antarctica Cruises website.

george island

King George Island Map

China’s expedition to Antarctica

China goes to space, China hosts the 2008 Olympics… and yesterday November 12: 91 Chinese scientists leave Shanghai for a new Antarctica expedition.

188 Chinese go on a 5 months Antarctica expedition: 91 Chinese scientists will reach Antarctica on the Xue Long Antarctica cruise ship, the rest of the 188 strong expedition will reach Antarctica by air.

This will be China’s 24th scientific expedition to Antarctica.

Why China wants to explore Antarctica

  • this Antarctica expedition will lay the foundations for China’s in-depth exploration of the Antarctic area
  • the expedition team will fix the site of China’s third scientific research station at the South Pole (a planned observatory with seven telescopes and one acoustic radar at Dome A, the highest point on the Antarctica continent at 4,093 meters above sea level)
  • the Chinese Antarctic explorers will also conduct field research into the bio-diversity of Antarctica, the ice shelf, climate change, global warming, the Antarctic ice algae and krill, and environmental monitoring

Antarctica Cruise Ship

Chinese Antarctica cruise ship Xue Long (snow dragon)

All this makes you wonder what UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon really is doing in Antarctica these days except for enjoying a once in a lifetime tourist vacation free cruise to Antarctica

Antarctica Weather

Temperatures on the ice sheet’s highest plateau on Antarctica drop to – 90 C and it has for long been considered "unapproachable".

So this Chinese Antarctica expedition team will first conduct preparatory work such as boiling water and observing the atmosphere.

China’s future plans on Antarctica

China is making preparations to build a third Antarctica station and once the site is located, construction will start soon to be completed by 2010.

1 week ago, China sent 189 construction workers from the China Railway Construction Engineering Group to begin work on the biggest expansion of the two permanent Antarctic stations – Changcheng (Great Wall) and Zhongshan.

These workers will add facilities comprising a space observation station, garage, warehouse, garbage and sewage discharge system, boiler house, high-frequency radar room and oil tanker to the two Antarctic stations.

To protect the environment, this South Pole construction group has built advanced sewage treatment systems and garbage burning facilities. Non-degradable and solid waste will be shipped back home for treatment.

China’s history of Antarctica Expeditions

China launched its first expedition to Antarctica in 1984.

Since that first Antarctica "adventure", such expeditions have been conducted on an annual basis.

China is part of the 82 stations built on Antarctica. Antarctica receives more than 30 scientific expedition teams every year, one of which is Chinese.

How to get a free cruise to Antarctica?

If you have been browsing around to find out prices about Antarctica tours, you will surely know that any Antarctica cruise easily costs a minimum of about US $ 10.000…

Why politicians love Antarctica trips

So if you ever wondered why politicians love to participate in an Antarctica tour: it’s merely because visiting Antarctica is the fastest way to burn any budget.

Of course the budget of environment will be hurt the easiest, but even if you don’t have that, than use up the budget of science and technology: as maybe your country does need scientists on Antarctica as well? Or if you already have them, better go on an Antarctica expedition to find out what your scientists really are doing in Antarctica.

Why Ban should be banned from the South Pole

So United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is viewing for himself the worrying effects of global warming by visiting Antarctica.

Is Ban an expert and has he ever done an Antarctica expedition? Does he have any clue what to look at in Antarctica?

Wouldn’t it be money well spend if real scientists gave Ban a report + documentary of how Antarctica was years before now compared to now?

Antarctica tourism

Antarctica tourism on its best: fast travel by plane:
Ban arriving at the at Chile’s Air Force base in Antarctica

Antarctica, Ban and Global warming

How can you see any effect of Global warming if you have no point of reference? You mean Ban can just go there and see the planet warming up the second he arrives? If that’s the case, our planet will be doomed to overheating in a matter of weeks!

This must be really the coolest way of spending US money! Way to go Ban!

king george island Antarctica

Ban looking at global warming on his Antarctica cruise.
Notice the scientific equipment Ban uses to measure global warming…
like none, nothing, zero !!!!

By the way: if you ever go on an Antarctica trip, then make sure you have your gloves on before you step outside the compartments of your Antarctica Cruise ship. 6 months after my Antarctica trip due to wet gloves, I could still feel the cold in my fingers!

Antarctica Vacations

To add to the holiday experience, Ban will also visit the Torres del Paine National Park, home to Chile’s spectacular glaciers.


Well that’s a no-brainer: they are also threatened by global warming, so that’s a good excuse to visit them!

How to get a free Antarctic cruise?

Well, you need to be:

  • a citizen of Malaysia,
  • a scientist,
  • determined,
  • increase your chances when you apply as a woman,
  • you need to be totally devoted to go on an Antarctica vacation… OOPS:
  • you need to be totally devoted to go on a polar research mission.

Polar Research Malaysia

Each year, Malaysia sends an average of 14 scientists to the Arctic and Antarctic. The participants in these Antarctic expeditions are scientists and postgraduate students of which 70% are women.

Most of them undertaking this Antarctica travel are young and very determined.

So if you are crazy about Antarctica but never think of spending the money for going on an Antarctica vacation, why not divert your passion into becoming an scientist and even get paid to go on Antarctic expeditions?

Polar Bears

polar bears

Malaysian Polar Research Team : Suhaila, Sheeba and Leela

The 3 Malaysian polar researches (from the National Antarctic Research Centre) just came back from their first scientific Antarctica travel.

You can read how these 3 Malaysian women experienced their Antarctic expeditions in our next posts. For the skeptics amongst you: there is much more involved than counting how many penguins there are on Antarctica…