Guest post by Steven Goddard
From the Catlin web site today – a first hand description of what motivates the explorers, and what they are learning about Arctic warming.
Thursday, 02 Apr 2009 10:04
“Men wanted for Hazardous Journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success.”
Thousands of men (and three women) replied to Ernest Shackleton’s advertisement, which (the story goes) was placed in a London newspaper in 1913, ahead of his Antarctic expedition aboard the Endurance.
Polar expeditions have moved on in terms of technology and equipment, but the motivation and commitment to research that fuelled Shackleton and his team seem not to have altered.
“There’s a cocktail of motivational forces at work”, commented Expedition Leader Pen Hadow from the team tent, huddled over the sat-phone at the end of another long, cold day. “You can sum it up by saying we feel a commitment to represent the Arctic Ocean as an eco-system and the three of us have the skills that allow us to gather the information that will enable people to be better informed about the state of the region and its future“.
But given temperatures of -40 degrees centigrade with a wind chill factor in the minus seventies, does the motivation that fuelled the team from their warm UK base in the planning stages, diminish?
Photographer Martin Hartley who’s been crawling into a frozen sleeping back that becomes a wet sponge overnight for longer than he cares to remember, remarks “I’m getting extremely frustrated with the stupidly cold temperatures that are making my life a misery, day after day. All I can think about, 24 hours a day, is getting a new sleeping bag on the next re-supply”.
But Hadow says he’s speaking for all three team members, himself, Hartley and Ann Daniels, when he concludes, “We’ve absolutely no regrets about being here. Given that it’s so awful, our commitment to the research and our motivation is in fact what keeps us going”.
With a team currently preparing the next re-supply, Hartley should get his new sleeping bag within the next few days.
What I find interesting is the use of the word “But” and “stupidly cold” highlighted in red above. It appears that what they are experiencing on the ground is not what they were expecting to find.
“The team covered a staggering 16.7km today, the biggest distance achieved to date. By covering so much distance since the last resupply (134.5km in 13 days), the team have observed the ice they are crossing is getting significantly older and thicker“
So it is extremely cold and they are finding old, thick ice. That does not sound like the sub-tropical Arctic as portrayed by The Guardian.
Flashback to February, 2008 OSLO, Feb. 29 (Xinhua) — The polar cap in the Arctic may well disappear this summer due to the global warming, Dr. Olav Orheim, head of the Norwegian International Polar Year Secretariat, said on Friday.