The treacherous waters of the Drake Passage

Zoe Jean-Charles, Reporter

   As global temperatures continue to rise and global warming gains more traction in the media, so does Antarctica and its icy glaciers. In spite of the reported ice melting and rising sea levels, many are beginning to remake the trip to the isolated continent post-COVID. 

   Despite its large size, Antarctica can only be reached via two methods of travel. The first is a two hour plane ride that jumps off the southernmost tip of Argentina. The second is a forty-eight hour boating expedition across the infamous Drake Passage. The Drake Passage is a large body of water between Chile, Argentina, and the Antarctic Shetland Islands. The Drake passage gained infamy for its large waves, incredibly strong currents,and large free-floating icebergs that are common along the route.

  The largest waves seen on expeditions by travelers have been known to reach heights of over 40 feet. Icebergs are also incredibly common to encounter while crossing because of the large number that break off from the Antarctic ice shelves. In fact, icebergs are so common that crews or boats who make the expedition often host betting pools to see who can guess when the first will be spotted. However, it is important to note that while extreme conditions are common, only 1 in 4 trips will be heavily affected and all captains and crews who sail are heavily trained in navigating the weather safely. 

   While the Drake Passage, despite its reputation, is not a doorway to certain doom, that may change soon with the rise of temperatures in the southernmost hemisphere of the world. 

As ice sheets covering both the North and South Poles deteriorate, sea levels rise along with unstable and increasingly destructive weather, causing more frequent chaotic weather within the passage.