The Great Drift

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From 07.06.2010 - Status: abandoned

Se laisser dériver sur un bout de banquise

Se laisser dériver sur un bout de banquise

© International Polar Foundation

Four voluntary shipwrecked men are going try to live unsupported for more than a month on a drifting block of polar pack ice that is melting beneath their feet... The objective of this adventure: to preserve the memory of this environment so clearly condemned to disappear.

Those who are nicknamed the Robinsons on Ice or the voluntary shipwrecked men are in fact called Emmanuel Hussenet (Expedition Leader), Luc Dénoyer (Logistics, Photographer), Anne Quéméré (Scientific Reports) and Gauthier Mesnil-Blanc (illustrations).

Hussenet has just set up a programme that will proceed over five years. Its objective is to testify to the evolution of the polar icecap. The programme is articulated around three axes: sporting adventure, scientific study and environmental teaching.

The operations will proceed in the Fram Strait area, to the east of Greenland. This is strait via which the pack ice that has formed over several years in the Glacial Arctic Ocean is evacuated. They are going to tackle this ice in summer while they head southwards - gradually melting all the time. By means of a light, non-motorised expedition, they will have to find a sufficiently thick block of polar pack ice for establishing a provisional camp on it, and will then let themselves be carried southwards by the current. For safety reasons, the expedition may have to move from one floating island to another, but will remain on its original block for as long as possible. The quality of the scientific monitoring depends on it.

Why this adventure? In order to draw everyone's attention to the fate of the ice and to testify to its amazing beauty. In order to associate adventure with poetry and to give the world a new and unfortunately final look at a legendary natural environment.

Difficulties: in this environment that is particularly hostile to man, they will be hugely exposed. They will, with very few means, have to organise a precarious camp life, under permanent threat from the currents, the sun, the winds and the icebergs. The average temperature will be one or two degrees above zero. A visit by a bear is not excluded.

Supplies: carrying 35 days of food, the expedition will be at the limit of its loading capacities. It will be deposited by boat as far north as possible, leaving from Tasiilaq, and then will let the elements take it closer to its starting point.

Dates: Start of the Great Drift on 28 June, return at the beginning of August 2010. The period from 08 to 28 June is devoted to the preparation and acceptance of specific projects.
The scientific programme will be the following:

  • Monitoring the movements of the ice block on which the camp is established. Position and speed of the displacement.
  • Daily measuring of the ice block's melting with an estimate of the lost surface and thickness.
  • Taking sea samples for studying the plankton.
  • Filming the life under the icecap for studying the ecosystem.
  • Underwater sound recording for pinniped identification and enumeration (seals, walruses).

The result of this research will be centralised in Océanopolis (Brest) under Eric Hussenot's direction.

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