Catlin Arctic Survey 2011: Team Is On The Ice

Despite the fact that a number of North Pole expeditions have cancelled their plans for the year, the Catlin Arctic Survey is forging ahead as scheduled. That means, for the third straight year, the organization will have explorers in the Arctic taking important readings on the impact of global climate change there.

Much like last year, this year’s survey will be a two pronged affair, with an ice base being established for a team of scientists while a second team of explorers travels through the region. As of yesterday, the research team had been deployed, and they were in the process of building their ice base, which will serve as temporary research station in the weeks ahead.

Already out on the ice are Ice Base manager Simon Garrod, Ice Base Guide Carolyn Bailey, Field Operations Manager Ian Wesley and scientist Helen Findlay. Over the next two months, they’ll be joined by a rotating staff of other scientists, researchers, and educators.

Meanwhile, the Explorers Team is still in Resolute Bay, where they are putting the final touches on their packing and preparation work. If the weather holds, they intend to start their long, cold journey on Saturday.

Unlike the past two years, when the goal was to reach the North Pole, the Explorers Team will instead cross the Prince Gustav Sea aboard a ship. Eventually, they’ll leave the vessel behind however, and begin a 10-week long journey south, starting near the North Pole and heading towards Greenland.

Along the way, they’ll take samples of the surface layers of the Arctic Ocean which will aid in research to determine how changes to those layers is effecting the climate in North America and Europe.

Hopefully the explorers will get to head out on schedule on Saturday. The weather has been absolutely brutal in the region lately, and while things have looked up in recent days, it is always nasty this time of year.

Kraig Becker