The Catlin team has been on the ice for 10 days, and has traveled a total of 17 miles so far as the crow flies. At that rate, they will reach the North Pole in September, except that the ice gets too dangerous by early May and they will have to evacuate. Their current position is 85 47 N 78 22 W, after starting at 85 32 N 77 44 W on March 15. Their web site uses a cool Google earth plugin to map their tortuous route – seen below.
The Google Earth map below shows how far they have traveled in reference to the North Pole. Note that their starting point and current position are almost right on top of each other at that scale.
The team have been making lots of noise about how unusual the ice conditions are in the Arctic, based on the tiny fraction of the Arctic they have navigated.
“The conditions we’re experiencing are unlike anything I’ve seen in any of the nineteen expeditions I’ve previously been on,” says Martin Hartley. “There are great swathes of only recently refrozen open water peppered with small snow-covered islands of ice in the distance. I wonder if this is a sign of things to come for Arctic travel?”
The map below shows just how insignificant their coverage has been. Their starting and end points appear to be right on top of each other at Arctic scale.
The Arctic Ocean covers 5,427,000 square miles. Catlin 2010 has seen maybe ten square miles of it, meaning they have sampled less than 0.0002% of the ice. They also choose to travel on refrozen leads because they are flatter and smoother, so their sampling is not random. No serious scientist would attempt to draw any conclusions about the quality of the ice based on a cherry picked sample representing less than 0.0002% of the Arctic, but this is no ordinary scientific expedition.
Same story, different year. From 2009 : Can the Catlin Arctic Survey Team Cover 683 km in the Next 21 Days?