Catlin Arctic Survey: Ice Conditions Remain Unpredictable, Research Progressing

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The two teams that make up the Catlin Arctic Survey team continue to have very busy and eventful days in the arctic. The explorers are continuing to make their way north, amidst some of the strangest and most dangerous ice conditions they’ve ever seen, while back in the Ice Base, a new group of scientists are hard at work.

The Explorers team is made up of polar vets Ann Daniels, Martin Hartley and Charlie Paton, and their mission to take samples of the arctic ice while making their way to the North Pole. Presently, they’re at roughly 86.34ºN, and contending with, quite literally, constantly changing ice conditions. The has been so unstable in fact that one morning during breakfast the trio heard it cracking all around them outside of their tent, and they were forced to evacuate their shelter, and quickly decide which side of the crack they wanted to be on, pulling gear and sleds along with them in order to avoid catastrophic damage. Charlie Paton described the scene like this, “We heard a crack, a few bangs and then suddenly the ice started to break apart. It all happened very quickly and was unlike anything I’ve experienced before”

This wasn’t the only dangerous situation they’ve found themselves in either. One day, while navigating through the ice flows and around open water, they actually found themselves surrounded on all sides by ice that was too thin to cross. It was a sobering reminder of how quickly things can change in the arctic. Check out this amazing video that the team captured that demonstrates just what kind of conditions they are dealing with on their long, cold journey to the top of the world.

It hasn’t been all bad for the explorers though, as they received their first resupply this week, providing them with some much need fresh food and gear. The team remains confident and upbeat that they’ll arrive at the Pole on schedule.

Meanwhile, back at the Ice Base the scientists continue their work, which included a little home improvement, including an update and improvement to the loo. Of course, they’re continuing their valuable research on the effects of CO2 in the atmosphere on the Arctic Ocean, with Laura Edwards, of Bangor University, who has been at the base since Day 1, providing an update on the process. The research team has been happy to find a wide variety of life thriving in the water, including plankton, tiny crustaceans called copepods, and lentil-sized sea snails called pteropods.

Finally, click here to meet Brownie, the Ice Base’s early warning system for polar bears. Brownie is a part-Husky, part- German Shepherd mix who is always on watch for the big, hungry white bears that are common in the area. Brownie also earns her keep by pulling a sled for the scientists as they go about their daily chores, and in turn, they’ve become quite fond of the four legged member of the team.

Kraig Becker

11 thoughts on “Catlin Arctic Survey: Ice Conditions Remain Unpredictable, Research Progressing”

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