Catlin Arctic Survey

Expedition News-Official Website

From 28.02.2009 to 20.06.2009 - Status: abandoned

an international collaboration

an international collaboration

© International Polar Foundation

This scientific endeavour begins in early February 2009. The expedition is being led by highly experienced polar explorer Pen Hadow. Accompanying him will be Ann Daniels, one of the world's foremost female polar explorers and Martin Hartley, leading expedition photographer.

Initially, the team planned to start their journey from Point Barrow in Alaska. But after meeting with eminent scientists like professor Wieslaw Maslowski of the Department of Oceanography at the Naval Postgraduate School, California and professor Peter Wadhams of the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at the University of Cambridge, It was agreed that the proposed route (80°N, 130°W) was very interesting in terms of data collection. Ground truth data is rare at these latitudes and of particular interest to the scientists is the fact that the Catlin Arctic Survey will provide winter sea ice data.

The trio will be travelling on foot, hauling sledges from 81°N 130°W, across 1000 km of disintegrating and shifting sea ice, for around 100 days, in temperatures from 0ºC down to -50°C.

Here are some essential data (from their website)

Despite the technological advances of the 20th century, we still only have estimates of the thickness of the sea ice cover on the Arctic Ocean. Travelling across the sea ice, the Catlin Arctic Survey team will take precise measurements of its thickness and density. This will enable the programme's Science Partners to determine, with a greater degree of accuracy, how long the sea ice will remain. Currently, its predicted meltdown date is anywhere between four and a hundred years from now.

Global significance

The melting of the sea ice will accelerate climate change, sea level rise and habitat loss on a global scale. Its loss is also a powerful indicator of the effects of human activity on our planet's natural systems and processes. The Survey's scientific findings will be taken to the national negotiating teams working to replace the Kyoto Protocol agreement at the UN Climate Change Conference of Parties in Copenhagen in December 2009.

Pioneering technology

The Catlin Arctic Survey has developed and tested a portable, ice-penetrating radar. This will take continuous and detailed measurements of both the snow and ice layers along the 1000 km route. Ground-breaking satellite communications equipment, developed specifically for this project, will allow the survey team to transmit their unfolding story directly from the ice to a global audience.

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