2011 Catlin Arctic Survey Prepares To Cross The Thin Blue Line

Arctic Sea Ice copyright Martin Hartley1

Over the past couple of years, the Catlin Arctic Survey team has been very active during the yearly Arctic Season. In 2009, a team of three explorers that included Pen Hadow, Ann Daniels, and Martin Hartley set out for the North Pole on foot, taking core samples of the ice as they went. Those samples would later be used to check the health of the Arctic pack-ice. In 2010, a new team, this time consisting of Daniels, Hartley, and Charlie Paton, made a similar trek, this time reach the Pole, while taking readings of the levels of CO2 in the ice, while a second team of scientists conducted a series of experiments at a stationary ice base. In 2011, the team is gearing up for another arctic adventure that has even more far reaching goals.

Earlier today the Catlin Arctic Survey announced a 10-week long expedition that will get underway in March. This time out, they will be examining the surface layers of the Arctic Ocean, and how changes in temperature there have had an effect on the climate in Europe and North America. In particular, they will be examining a “Thin Blue Line” of fresh water just beneath the surface of the Arctic sea ice that may offer some clues towards understanding the changes in ocean currents and their effects on global climate change.

Once again, the Survey team will establish an Ice Base, this time located aboard a ship off the coast of Ellef Ringnes Island, where scientists will conduct new and potentially ground breaking research into the potential for organic material in fresh water near the surface of the ocean for trapping heat from the sun, and causing the upper ocean layers to increase in temperature.

Meanwhile, two other teams will undertake separate missions of their own. Those teams will head out onto the ice, with one setting out to cross Prince Gustav Adolf Sea and the other will trek from the North Geographic Pole towards Greenland. Those explorers will collect samples from the water beneath the polar icecap that will be used to further the research project that is the brainchild of Dr. Simon Boxall of the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton, UK.

As I have over the past two years, I’ll be following along with the progress of this important scientific expedition as it unfolds during the looming North Pole season which always gets underway in March. The Catlin Arctic Survey continues to grow in scope and sophistication each year, and true to form it has expanded once again. I love the fact that these adventurers are not only traveling through one of the most inhospitable environments on the planet, but they are doing so for research that may give us clues as to how and why our planet’s climate and weather is changing. Expect regular updates starting in March.

Kraig Becker