Thanks to climate change and shifting conditions in the Arctic, there won’t be much of a North Pole season this year. In fact, I’m not aware of a single person attempting a full expedition to 90ºN in 2013 although there are sure to be some doing a last degree journey to the Pole. Most of those who undertake that endeavor will do so starting from the Barneo Ice Camp, a temporary base that is built each year on a floating slab of ice in the arctic ocean. Due to the shifting nature of that ice, the entire camp must be rebuilt every spring and construction is now underway for the 2013 edition.
Dispatches from the team in charge of establishing Barneo indicate that their “assault team” is now on the ice and doing the preliminary work to get the station ready for its first visitors. That includes setting up tents, organizing supplies and building an ice runway that is long enough to accommodate an Ilyushin IL-76 aircraft. The team charged with completing these tasks parachuted onto the ice a few days ago to begin their work, while a second wave of support is en route via helicopter. Part of the team has been held-up in Khatanga do to bureaucratic red tape. They hope to have that resolved soon and get the aircraft moving again ASAP.
We’re told that conditions on the ground are extremely cold at the moment with temperatures hovering around -39ºC/-38ºF. But other than that, the weather remains good with minimal winds and no snow. At least for now. That can change rapidly of course, but it seems that there is a window of opportunity for work to proceed at the moment.
The base is looking to open for its first visitors by April 1. After that there will be a string of scientists, researchers and adventurers making their way to Barneo over the following few weeks. The lifespan of the station is brief however, and operations there should wrap up by late April, sometime around the 24th of the month.
It seems any action in the Arctic this year will be centered out of the Ice Camp. We’ll have to wait to see if anything interesting arises.
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