First readings

Published on 28.04.2009 - Catlin Arctic Survey

Although the trio has not yet reached its goal, it has already started publishing the first results of the observations it took during the first part of the expedition.

Knowing the thickness of the sea-ice is extremely important if we are to understand the impact that global warming is having on the Arctic pack-ice. And no doubt this is one of the reasons that prompted Pen Hadow to take measurements of the thickness of the ice each evening of their trip.

We learnt in the previous update how the radar device the team took with them to take automatic readings of the thickness of the ice had unfortunately broken down and that they were having to spend a number of hours each evening drilling through the ice and taking manual measurements.

The first results of the team's work are now coming through, corroborating everything that has been observed in the past on the subject in the area that the trio passed through at the beginning of their expedition. Most of the time, they travelled across thick first-year ice. First-year ice does not reach two metres in thickness, whereas 'multi-year' ice (i.e. ice that is several years old), can be over three metres thick. So no major discoveries there. But what it does indicate is that the extent of the multi-year ice has shrunk significantly in recent years. We know that it is confined to a thin band to the east of 130th meridian West located along the coasts of the islands to the west of Greenland.

Apart from that, we have no other information about the expedition's progress or location. But there are plenty of interesting details about the thickness of the ice and depth of the snow (at the start of the expedition, the average depth of the snow was 11 cm; this has now increased to 16 cm), as well as about how the body's internal clock works, known as the 'circadian rhythm'.

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