Antarctica Dispatch 5: Detour, with scenery

The World

The Nathaniel B. Palmer stopped at Rothera research station near the Antarctic Peninsula. Nearing its destination offshore of Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica, the ship had to divert back north to the station for a medical emergency.

Carolyn Beeler/The World

A medical emergency aboard the Nathaniel B. Palmer sends the ship and reporter Carolyn Beeler back north just as they’re about to reach the Thwaites Glacier. That means a big delay in starting work on the ship’s core mission, but also an unscheduled visit to a research base at a dramatic location just off the Antarctic Peninsula.

research station

The Rothera Research Station on Adelaide Island, operated by the British Antarctic Survey. It’s home to more than 100 researchers in the summer months, and 20-30 in the Antarctic winter.

gravel airstrip
A gravel airstrip at Rothera station allows flights in and out for supplies, personnel and research missions. The ill crew member of the Nathaniel B. Palmer was airlifted from here to a hospital in Chile.

Carolyn Beeler/The World


Icebergs calving off local glaciers litter the sea around the Rothera station. Researchers at the station say glaciers in the area are in rapid retreat as the region warms. “It’s really scary,” says one.


Carolyn Beeler/The World


Sunset in Ryder Bay off the Antarctic Peninsula, Feb. 20, 2019, as the Nathaniel B. Palmer waited near Rothera station.


Carolyn Beeler/The World


Antarctica Dispatch 4: Fieldwork begins, cue the seals

Antarctica Dispatch 3: The ship's first encounters with icebergs

Antarctica Dispatch 2: Crossing the Drake Passage

Antarctica Dispatch 1: Gearing up and shipping out

What Thwaites Glacier can tell us about the future of West Antarctica