Here’s some interesting news as regards polar history. The Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI) at the University of Cambridge, UK are planning a scientific expedition to Antarctica to study the Larsen C Ice Shelf – and explore the area where Endurance, Sir Ernest Shackleton’s famous ship was last seen.

The Endurance was crushed by pack ice in the Weddel Sea in 1915. Shackleton and his crew took to lifeboats and made an extraordinary and now renowned journey across the Southern Ocean to seek rescue.

The 45 day expedition will be led by Professor Julian Dowdeswell and will depart next spring in 2019. It will bring together leading researchers from the SPRI as well as the Nekton Foundation, the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, the University of Cape Town and the Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

Shack-endurance
Sir Ernest Shackleton taken during the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, 1915

Finding the shipwrecked Endurance however, is not the primary aim of the expedition, which is to study the Larsen C Ice Shelf. The shelf calved one of the largest recorded icebergs in Antarctica last year. The expedition will examine the underneath of the iceshelf via underwater submersibles, and understand the likelihood of the iceshelf collapsing.

As the Larsen C iceshelf is located close to the final known position of the Endurance, the expedition will also make efforts to find the ship.

“It would be a shame not to,” said Prof Dowdeswell on British radio.

“In our study of Larsen, we will be operating autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs). But if we can get them in range of where Endurance is thought to be, we will send them under the ice to do a survey.

“They are fitted with downward-looking multi-beam echosounders, which can map out on a grid the shape of the seafloor. You look at that for any signs of the ship and then focus in with cameras if you find something interesting.”

A little unlikely to come across the Endurance perhaps, but wouldn’t it be the find of the century?!

More information on the Scott Polar Research Institute can be found here: https://www.spri.cam.ac.uk

About the Author Ash Routen

I’m a postdoctoral exercise scientist by day, and cold expedition adventurer (for want of a better term) and outdoors and health writer by night. I’m based in Leicester in the UK, but I also spend considerable time in Cambridge where my partner lives. To find out more about me, visit my about page or take a look at my published writing.

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