Passengers, crew stuck on ship trapped in Antarctic ice ring in 2014

Passengers and crew who set off on an expedition to prove climate change are ringing in the new year in the same place where they have been for the past week: stuck in ice at the bottom of the world.

The 74 scientists, tourists and crew on the Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy, which has been trapped near Antarctica since last Tuesday, are expecting to be airlifted from the ship by a helicopter.

Andrew Peacock, a doctor on board, said the passengers are frustrated but are trying to keep their spirits high with a New Year’s party they planned in the ship’s bar.

“We are preparing for evacuation to a dry ship so a few drinks seems reasonable, but we also have to be ready at a moment’s notice for the helicopter arrival so staying sober is important,” hetold AFP.

The ship has two weeks’ worth of fresh food, but Peacock said drinks are becoming sparse, with “just enough alcohol left” to ring in 2014.

A helicopter on board a Chinese icebreaker, the Snow Dragon, will be used to collect the passengers. The Snow Dragon, which is waiting with the Australian icebreaker Aurora Australis at the edge of the ice pack, was one of three ships that was unable to crack through the ice, as was France’s L’Astrolabe.

But the helicopter must wait for a break in the weather before it can attempt a rescue, and conditions aren’t expected to improve before Wednesday, the maritime authority said. The passengers will be flown back to the Snow Dragon in groups of 12, and then transferred by barge to the Aurora.

All 52 passengers will be evacuated, but the crew on the Akademik Shokalskiy will stay behind with the ship and wait for the ice to break up naturally, expedition spokesman Alvin Stone said.

A simple shift in the wind could free the ship. Winds from the east have been pounding the ship and pushing the ice around the vessel. A westerly wind would help break up the ice, Stone said. The trouble is, no one knows when the wind will change.

The Australian icebreaker Aurora Australis came within 12 miles of the ship on Monday, but fierce winds and snow forced it to retreat to open water.

On Tuesday, the weather remained bleak, and the crew on the Aurora said their vessel would also be at risk of getting stuck if it made another rescue attempt, according to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, which is coordinating the rescue.

The Akademik Shokalskiy, which left New Zealand on Nov. 28, got stuck on Christmas Eve after a blizzard pushed the sea ice around the ship, freezing it in place about 1,700 miles south of Hobart, Tasmania.

“We’re stuck in our own experiment,” the Australasian Antarctic Expedition said in a statement Monday. “We came to Antarctica to study how one of the biggest icebergs in the world has altered the system by trapping ice. We … are now ourselves trapped by ice surrounding our ship.”

The scientific team on board had been recreating Australian explorer Douglas Mawson’s century-old voyage to Antarctica and expedition leader Chris Turney had hoped to continue the trip if an icebreaker managed to free the ship. The looming helicopter rescue means the expedition will have to be cut short, Stone said.

Still, those on board appeared to be taking it all in stride.

“Surprisingly, all the passengers seem to be considering it the adventure of a lifetime,” Stone said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

New island off Japan keeps growing and growing
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    Niijima — a new island formed from volcanic eruptions in the South Pacific Ocean — is still erupting and growing. Scientists from the Japan Meteorological Agency think the island is large enough to survive for at least several years, if not permanently. (JAPAN COAST GUARD (JCG))

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    Niijima — a new island formed from volcanic eruptions in the South Pacific Ocean — is still erupting and growing. Scientists from the Japan Meteorological Agency think the island is large enough to survive for at least several years, if not permanently. (JAPAN COAST GUARD (JCG))

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    Dec. 8, 2013: NASA’s Earth Observing-1 satellite captured this image of a new Japanese island. The water around the island is discolored by volcanic minerals and gases and by seafloor sediment stirred up by the ongoing volcanic eruption. (NASA)

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    Nov. 21, 2013: Smoke billows from a new island off the coast of Nishinoshima, seen left above, a small, uninhabited island in the Ogasawara chain, far south of Tokyo. (AP)

THE PACIFIC OCEAN –  It’s a boy! No wait: It’s a mudpatch!

A volcanic eruption 600 miles south of Tokyo has created a new island, a 14-acre mass along the western edge of the “Ring of Fire” in the South Pacific. And far from sinking back into the sea, this bundle of joy looks like its here to stay.

The island is named Niijima and sits off the coast of Nishino-shima, a small, uninhabited island in the “Ring of Fire” chain of volcanoes in the western Pacific. It first appeared in late November, when heavy black smoke, ash and rocks exploded from the seas and steam poured forth from the eruption.

New images released by NASA show that the island looks likely to stay, unlike past tiny bits of territory that have appeared and later disappeared, according to Yoshihide Suga, Japan’s chief government spokesman.

“This has happened before and in some cases the islands disappeared,” Yoshihide Suga said when asked if the government was planning on naming the new island.

“If it becomes a full-fledged island, we would be happy to have more territory.”

According to news reports, Niijima is still erupting and growing. Scientists from the Japan Meteorological Agency think the island is large enough to survive for at least several years, if not permanently, NASA said. By early December, the island had grown to 56,000 square meters (13.8 acres), about three times its initial size. It stands 20 to 25 meters above the sea level.

The new island sits about a third of a mile from Nishino-shima, another volcanic island that last erupted and expanded in 1973–74, NASA said.

Expedition explores underwater ‘grand canyon’

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    3D seafloor bathymetry map of upper Agadir Canyon (SEBASTIAN KRASTEL (KIEL UNIVERSITY))

A five-week expedition to map and sample a giant underwater canyon off the northwest coast of Morocco has completed its mission, yielding the best look yet at the deep-sea wonder.

More than half a mile deep, 280 miles long and up to 20 miles wide, Agadir Canyon is approximately the size of the Grand Canyon. A joint team of British and German scientists aboard the German research vessel Maria S Merian took images and samples of the seafloor to create a high-resolution 3D map of the canyon and sample its marine life.

Up until now, Agadir Canyon, considered by some measures the world’s largest undersea canyon, has rarely been explored, said British expedition leader Russell Wynn of the National Oceanography Centre in England. “There are a lot of interesting features that no one has ever gone and looked at,” Wynn told LiveScience’s OurAmazingPlanet. [Agadir Canyon: the Underwater Grand Canyon]

‘There are a lot of interesting features that no one has ever gone and looked at.’

– British expedition leader Russell Wynn of the National Oceanography Centre

Long flows of sediment carved out the canyon over millions of years, much like a river carves out a canyon, including the Grand Canyon, on land. Researchers had mapped Agadir Canyon previously at a very crude scale that revealed features a few hundred meters big. Now, using a technology called multibeam sonar, Wynn and his colleagues have mapped the region on the scale of a few meters to tens of meters.

The team discovered that Agadir Canyon produced the world’s largest sediment flow about 60,000 years ago, depositing up to 38 cubic miles of sludge during a single catastrophic landslide.

Powerful flows from the Atlas Mountains of Northwest Africa carried sand and gravel to deep offshore basins nearly 3,000 miles beneath the sea surface, depositing the sediment over 135,000 square miles an area roughly the size of Germany.

The team also found a gigantic new landslide south of the canyon that covers more than 2,000 square miles of seafloor, about the size of the state of Delaware. This flow didn’t mix with the other flows, but blocked up the end of the canyon, “like toothpaste,” Wynn said. Preliminary data suggest the flow is quite ancient, at least 130,000 years old, he added.

Understanding the canyon’s topography could be useful when laying Internet cables and other infrastructure, to account for geological hazards.

Agadir Canyon is also a rich biological ecosystem, home to deepwater corals, fish and beaked whales. “At Agadir, no one has ever done any biological work,” Wynn said, adding that the new maps will help researchers investigate the region’s ecosystems in more detail and aid in their conservation.

Copyright 2013 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Man survives 60 hours at bottom of Atlantic, rescued after finding air pocket in tugboat

Associated Press

LAGOS, NIGERIA –  Entombed at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean in an upended tugboat for three days, Harrison Odjegba Okene begged God for a miracle.

The Nigerian cook survived by breathing an ever-dwindling supply of oxygen in an air pocket. A video of Okene’s rescue in May that was posted on the Internet more than six months later has gone viral this week.

As the temperature dropped to freezing, Okene, dressed only in boxer shorts, recited the last psalm his wife had sent by text message, sometimes called the Prayer for Deliverance: “Oh God, by your name, save me. … The Lord sustains my life.”

To this day, Okene believes his rescue after 72 hours underwater at a depth of about 100 feet is a sign of divine deliverance. The other 11 seaman aboard the Jascon 4 died.

Divers sent to the scene were looking only for bodies, according to Tony Walker, project manager for the Dutch company DCN Diving, who were called to the scene because they were working on a neighboring oil field 75 miles away.

The divers had already pulled up four bodies.

So when a hand appeared on the TV screen Walker was monitoring in the rescue boat, showing what the diver in the Jascon saw, everybody assumed it was another corpse.

“The diver acknowledged that he had seen the hand and then, when he went to grab the hand, the hand grabbed him!” Walker said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

“It was frightening for everybody,” he said. “For the guy that was trapped because he didn’t know what was happening. It was a shock for the diver while he was down there looking for bodies, and we (in the control room) shot back when the hand grabbed him on the screen.”

On the video, there’s an exclamation of fear and shock from Okene’s rescuer, and then joy as the realization sets in. Okene recalls hearing: “There’s a survivor! He’s alive.”

Walker said Okene couldn’t have lasted much longer.

“He was incredibly lucky he was in an air pocket but he would have had a limited time (before) … he wouldn’t be able to breathe anymore.”

The full video of the rescue captured by divers was released by DCN Diving after a request from The Associated Press. Initially, a shorter version of the rescue emerged on the Internet. The authenticity of the video was confirmed through conversations with DCN employees in the Netherlands. The video showing Okene was also consistent with additional photos of him on the rescue ship. The AP also contacted Okene on Tuesday who confirmed the events.

Okene’s ordeal began around 4:30 a.m. on May 26. Always an early riser, he was in the toilet when the tug, one of three towing an oil tanker in Nigeria’s oil-rich Delta waters, gave a sudden lurch and then keeled over.

“I was dazed and everywhere was dark as I was thrown from one end of the small cubicle to another,” Okene said in an exclusive interview after his rescue with Nigeria’s Nation newspaper.

He groped his way out of the toilet and tried to find a vent, propping doors open as he moved on. He discovered some tools and a life vest with two flashlights, which he stuffed into his shorts.

When he found a cabin of the sunken vessel that felt safe, he began the long wait, getting colder and colder as he played back a mental tape of his life — remembering his mother, friends, mostly the woman he’d married five years before with whom he hadn’t yet fathered a child.

He worried about his colleagues — 10 Nigerians and the Ukrainian captain including four young cadets from Nigeria’s Maritime Academy. They would have locked themselves into their cabins, standard procedure in an area stalked by pirates.

He got really worried when he heard the sound of fish, shark or barracudas he supposed, eating and fighting over something big.

As the waters rose, he made a rack on top of a platform and piled two mattresses on top.

According to his interview with the Nation: “I started calling on the name of God. … I started reminiscing on the verses I read before I slept. I read the Bible from Psalm 54 to 92. My wife had sent me the verses to read that night when she called me before I went to bed.”

He survived off just one bottle of Coke, all he had to sustain him during the trauma.

Okene really thought he was going to die, he told the Nation, when he heard the sound of a boat engine and anchor dropping, but failed to get the attention of rescuers. He figured, given the size of the boat, that it would take a miracle for a diver to locate him. So he waded across the cabin, stripped the wall down to its steel body, then knocked on it with a hammer.

But “I heard them moving away. They were far away from where I was.”

By the time he was saved, relatives already had been told the sailors were dead.

Okene kept faith with the psalm he recited, that promises to “give thanks in your name, Lord,” at a service at his Redeemed Christian Church of God.

He was rescued by a diver who first used hot water to warm him up, then attached him to an oxygen mask. Once free of the sunken boat, he was put into a decompression chamber and then safely returned to the surface.

World War II-era Japanese mega-submarine discovered off Hawaii
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    The Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory Pisces V submersible at the deck of the I-400 submarine. (NOAA HURL ARCHIVES)

A Japanese submarine that was lost at sea after it was intentionally scuttled by the U.S. Navy during World War II has been located by a team of explorers off the coast of Hawaii.

A spokesman for the University of Hawaii at Mānoa said in a press release the discovery of the Imperial Japanese Navy’s mega-submarine, the I-400, solves the decades-old mystery of where the submarine lay on the ocean floor.

The I-400 was one of the “Sen-Toku” class submarines, which were the largest submarines ever built until nuclear-powered subs were invented. It is 400 feet long and could travel one and a half times around the world without refueling.

“The I-400 has been on our ‘to-find’ list for some time,” said veteran undersea explorer Terry Kerby, who led the expedition that found the submarine. “It was the first of its kind of only three built, so it is a unique and very historic submarine.”

Kerby said finding the submarine where they did was “totally unexpected” because they had expected it to be further out to sea.

“It was a thrill when the view of a giant submarine appeared out of the darkness,” Kerby said.

The U.S. Navy captured the I-400 and four other Japanese submarines at the end of the war and brought them to Pearl Harbor to inspect them. In 1946, the Soviet Union demanded access to the submarines under the terms of the treaty that ended the war.

Instead of allowing the Soviets access to the submarines’ advanced technology, the U.S. sunk them and claimed to have no information about where they were. Four out of the five submarines have since been located.

The I-400 was discovered in August and its discovery was announced Tuesday, after the NOAA reviewed the discovery with government officials in the U.S. and Japan.

Strangers log on to help satellite search for missing schooner
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    In this undated photo provided by Maritime New Zealand the yacht Nina, center, is tied at dock at a unidentified location. (AP/Maritime New Zealand)

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    A faint objected resembling a ship was spotted by volunteers virtually searching the Tasman Sea on The find helped volunteers in the region and online to narrow their search of the missing schooner Niña. (TOMNOD.COM)

An American family and crew aboard a 69-foot vintage sailboat last heard from in June could still be alive, according to relatives, who have turned to satellite images and strangers to scour the vast Tasman Sea.

David Dyche, an experienced sailor who works for a U.S. shipping company, was sailing the Nina from New Zealand to Australia with his wife, teenage son and four-member crew when they hit rough weather in June. In a desperate message to shore, Dyche said the boat’s sail had been shredded, leaving it adrift hundreds of miles from shore.

An aerial search mounted nearly two weeks later turned up nothing, but family members have enlisted help from a Texas volunteer search group and a hi-tech company, using satellite images and crowd-sourcing, Maritime blog gCaptain first reported. They believe they may even have proof the vessel is still afloat.

“People are poring over every picture, every pixel,” Luke Barrington, founder of Tomnod, a Colorado-based satellite imagery mapping company that is helping in the search, told, named after the Mongolian phrase for “Big Eye,” utilizes pictures from parent company Digital Globe, posting them on a website where volunteers can log on to help hunt for the Nina. While amateurs working from home don’t have the skills of professional searchers, they more than make up for it with sheer numbers.

Experts say if the Nina stayed afloat, the occupants could survive nearly indefinitely, with rainwater and fish to sustain them. Dyche, who has spent years sailing around the globe, set out May 29 with his wife, 17-year-old son and crew of four aboard the Nina, an 85-year-old schooner that won the famous British Isles Fastnet race in 1928.

“This crew is experienced and can survive at sea with natural resources, including fresh water from rain and food from fishing and that stored on board,” reads a statement from Texas Equusearch Mounted Search and Recovery Team, a volunteer organization that has searched for more than 1,300 missing  persons around the world and claims to have found more than 300. “We believe from our study of the information, the ship is adrift and those aboard are alive and waiting to be found.”

The plan was for the family to make one last voyage together before David Dyche IV went off to college. They left the New Zealand port town of Opua and headed for Newcastle, Australia, knowing the seas would be rough.

“People are poring over every picture, every pixel.”

– Luke Barrington, founder of satellite imaging company Tomnod.

“The Tasman Sea is shooting gales out like a machine gun, living up to its reputation,” the elder Dyche posted on Facebook three days before they embarked.

In addition to Dyche, 58, wife Rosemary Dyche and their son, all of Panama City, Fla., the ship was carrying Evi Nemeth, 73, of Colorado; Danielle Wright, 19, of Baton Rouge, La.; Kyle Jackson, 27, of Bassett, Neb.; and Matthew Wooten, 35, of Great Britain.

On June 4, some 350 nautical miles from land, the Nina hit 60 mph winds and 25-foot swells. The crew was last heard from that day, when New Zealand-based meteorologist Bob McDavitt got a text from Nemeth.

“ANY UPDATE 4 NINA?…. EVI,” read the text.

The Royal New Zealand Air Force mounted an aerial search eleven days later, scanning nearly 100,000 nautical miles of sea to no avail. But the island nation’s Rescue Coordination Centre later found an undelivered text in the satellite phone system used by the schooner Nina, which is the last confirmed message sent from the ship.


Would-be rescuers theorize that a lightning strike or some other damage could have knocked out the ship’s engine and communications capabilities, leaving Dyche and his family and crew powerless against the ocean currents. They believe an image that turned up on a satellite photo in September could be proof that the Nina never capsized or sank.

“Nothing conclusive so far, but a couple of things have been found,” Barrington said, referring to the image found Sept. 16, which shows a shape similar to the Nina in the water.

Based on the location of the image, volunteers on Tomnod’s website and seasoned searchers Texas EqquSearch — which conducts aerial searches — have narrowed its search field to a 6,200-square-mile perimeter. Tomnod has compiled more than 50 images from five satellites of the Tasman, with each image covering 620 square miles. The images have been viewed some 3.7 million times online, presumably by volunteer, virtual searchers.

Narrowing the search field with satellite imagery can help make the task of finding one small sailboat on an endless sea more like finding a nail in a haystack than a needle. Ralph Baird, of Texas EqquSearch, which has helped in more than 1,300 international searches, said his group has conducted 500 hours of aerial searches over the Tasman after being contacted by relatives.

“We haven’t found much,” Baird said. “Sometimes finding nothing means hope because we can still search and find something.”

Of the technology, which Tomnod is currently using to map the destruction in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan, Baird said it could change what his organization does.

“It will revolutionize search-and-rescue efforts,” Baird said.

Storms of ‘sea snot’ muck up the ocean floor
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    Sea snot seen in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. (ARNE DIERCKS/NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC)

We’re all swimming in snot.

A slimy combination of dead plankton, gelatinous sea creatures and their feces fall to the ocean floor and become nutritious food for deep-sea organisms, National Geographic reported.

Scientists found that shortly after the “sea snot” drifted to the bottom of the ocean, the activity of the deep-sea creatures increased.

“Anything that was once living or breathing or had been eaten at the surface makes its way to the bottom of the ocean,” study leader Christine Huffard, a marine biologist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California told National Geographic.

The most active part of the ocean is its surface which is where algae and phytoplankton use the sun’s energy to photosynthesize. Jellyfish-like animals called sea salps feed on the phytoplankton.

The sea salps and their supper eventually die and sink to the ocean’s floor creating the gooey sea snot.

“The sea salps sink pretty quickly because they’re very dense, but even fecal pellets from zooplankton fall to the seafloor.”

All of the feeding requires a lot of oxygen so Huffard and her team were able to determine the activity levels of the deep-sea creatures by using a special deep-sea robot to assess oxygen levels.

The largest amount of sea snot storms has occurred in the past two years, Huffard said.

“In the 24 years of this study, the past 2 years have been the biggest amounts of this detritus by far.” Huffard attributes this to Global warming and ocean acidification which she says may have effects on marine life.

The increase in sea snot may also be due to an unforeseen factor and Huffard hopes to continue her research to learn more.

Huffard and her team are located at Station M, 145 miles west of the coast of California between Santa Barbara and Monterey.

Ocean glow stick: Sea worm emits strange blue glow

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    Here, the parchment tube worm glows green under a black light. Its natural blue glow is difficult to capture on camera.(SCRIPPS INSTITUTION OF OCEANOGRAPHY, UC SAN DIEGO)

One common sea worm has a rather uncommon trick:Chaeteopterus variopedatus also known as the parchment tube worm for the paper-like tubes it builds for itself and lives within throughout its life secretes a bioluminescent mucus that makes it glow blue.

Now, scientists are a step closer to understanding the mechanisms behind the worm’s glow.

The parchment tube worm can be found on shallow, sandy seafloors all around the world. Its glow sets it apart from other tube worms, most of whichdon’t glow, and other shallow water organisms, which typically emit green light, not blue.

Green light is more typical of shallow-water bioluminescencebecause it travels farther than any other color on the light spectrum, a useful quality in the turbid near-shore environment. [Gallery: Glowing Aquatic Life]

“Shallow water is much more complex than deep water from a physical standpoint, and green is what organisms see best,” Dimitri Deheyn, a biologist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography involved in the research, told LiveScience’s OurAmazingPlanet. “If you produce light and you want light to be associated with an ecological function, you want organisms to see it.”

Researchers have known about the unusual blue-glowing worm for decades, but nobody has ever looked closely at its light-emitting properties. Now, Deheyn and his colleagues have conducted two new studies that help characterize it.

First, the team found that, unlike light-emitting mechanisms in many other organisms, the worm does not require oxygen.

Light production usually occurs when two chemicals react together with oxygen to produce a compound that then produces light, Deheyn said. In past studies, researchers have found that glowing stops in the absence of oxygen.

But when Deheyn’s team removed oxygen from the tube worm, the worm continued glowing. They reported these findings last month in the journal Physiological and Biochemical Zoology.

“In our case, if you remove oxygen, you don’t stop the light,” said Deheyn. “So the biochemical pathway that eventually leads to light production does not follow conventional characteristics.”

In a separate experiment, the team found that riboflavin also known as vitamin B2 plays an important role in the worm’s light production, but its exact role remains unclear. However, since the worms do not produce riboflavin on their own, they must be acquiring their glowing properties from their diet or from symbiosis with bacteria, the researchers recently reported in the journal Photochemistry and Photobiology.

The team still has not determined why the animals emit blue light or, even more broadly, why they produce light at all. They think it could be used to lure prey or to ward off predators, but this remains unclear, they say.

Still, these discoveries bring the researchers closer to understanding the array of different bioluminescent pathways in the animal world, of which researchers estimate there could be 20 to 30 varieties, only about three of which have been studied in detail, Deheyn said.

Massive Antarctic iceberg sets sail

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    A NASA satellite image snapped Nov. 13, 2013, shows open water between Pine Island Glacier and its massive iceberg. (NASA MODIS)

After lingering in its birthing bay for nearly six months, an Antarctic iceberg the size of Singapore is finally heading out to sea.

Strong winds blowing off the continent are pushing the giant floe away from its parent, the giant Pine Island Glacier, and the warming Southern Hemisphere’s has melted the thick winter sea ice that held the block in place since July, said Grant Bigg, an ocean modeler at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom. The latest satellite images show a couple of miles of open water between the iceberg and the glacier, Bigg told LiveScience’s OurAmazingPlanet.

‘We’ve been waiting for this to happen.’

– Grant Bigg, an ocean modeler at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom

“We’ve been waiting for this to happen,” Bigg said.

The enormous ice block took more than two years to calve (break off) from Pine Island Glacier. A spectacular crack crossing the glacier was first discovered during a NASA IceBridge research flight in October 2011. The iceberg broke free on July 8, 2013, measuring about 278 square miles, according to tracking by TerraSAR-X, an Earth-observing satellite operated by the German Space Agency (DLR).

Bigg recently received a grant to track the drifting floe, which could disrupt international shipping lanes.

Icebergs sailing into the ocean from West Antarctica may stay close to the continent’s coastline, causing little hazard, or launch out into the Southern Ocean toward the Drake Passage near South America’s Cape Horn.

Bigg and his colleagues plan to try to predict the iceberg’s path up to a year in advance, based on ocean currents and prevailing winds. The modeling will help the shipping industry improve ice warnings, he said.

Huge icebergs such as the spawn of Pine Island Glacier often shatter into several pieces, and Bigg’s team will track and model the fragments if the chunk collapses.

Already, a few small pieces have broken off the west side of the iceberg as it moved in the past few days, Bigg said. [Video: Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier Is Rifting]

“Each of the last three years has seen a giant iceberg calve, from either Greenland or Antarctica,” he added. “Being able to track and forecast the tracks of these huge blocks of ice will be a major benefit to the shipping industry, particularly as more ships begin to use polar waters, as Arctic sea ice melts. This ability is what we aim to develop.”

Copyright 2013 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

‘Bering Sea Gold: Under the Ice’ star Emily Riedel won’t stop searching for gold

Pop Tarts
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    Emily Riedel hoists The Clarks anchor on “Bering Sea Gold.” (DISCOVERY COMMUNICATIONS)

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    Emily Riedel and her father Steve prepare to go under the ice to dredge for gold. (DISCOVERY CHANNEL)

There aren’t too many women in the world like Emily Riedel – an opera singer by passion, a dancing-with-death female dredger by trade.

Riedel is back for yet another season of the hit Discovery Channel show “Bering Sea Gold: Under the Ice” – only this time she and her friends and foes are searching for fortune amid the winter in Nome, Alaska, forced to drill beneath four feet thick sheets of ice to get to the bottom of the Bering Sea.

“We were really limited by the elements, the winds 20 or 30 below. It was very difficult conditions to make money in,” Riedel told FOX411. “There were a lot of barriers we needed to overcome and we are all still learning. It was a chaotic and frustrating time drilling under the ice… we aren’t certified divers and we are trying to do something that is very difficult and dangerous.”

With temperatures far below zero, Riedel and her teammates face the all too real threat of hypothermia, frostbite and even not making it out alive. But putting everything on the line for the chance of hitting it big is a risk she has no qualms in undertaking.

“There are certain goals I have for gold mining that I haven’t yet achieved, so I am going to keep on trying until I do,” Riedel continued. “The conditions might be awful, but everyone in the world wants to find gold. If you find it, it is yours. It is worth it.”

Some might say it’s a matter of getting comfortable with being uncomfortable, but for this Alaskan resident, it’s more about accepting that being abnormal is your normal.

“On a bad day I say I could stop this and become an accountant, but that’s not true. I would be a horrible accountant. We are incapable of having regular jobs. I have an uncomfortable personality in general,” Riedel explained. “Normal settings make me really anxious. I don’t feel normal in what should be normal situations.”

And although she remains the only female gold hunter featured on the Discovery show, and ultimately one of the very few women in the profession in general, she is hopeful a gender-based shift will start to happen in the years to come.

“It is a very difficult job mentally and physically, and there just aren’t many women drawn to this career. Although there should be and I hope that changes,” Riedel added. “A lot of guys have come up to me and told me that I inspire their daughters, and I am proud of that. I have had a lot of failures, but I have gone completely out of comfort zone and ventured into something that was dangerous, but challenging and rewarding.”

“Bering Sea Gold: Under the Ice” airs on the Discovery Channel on Fridays.