A Scientific exploration of Arctic Ocean Sea Ice - Before It's Gone


About the expedition

All female team, skiing to the North Pole in 2022 conducting crucial sea ice research that will contribute to our understanding of climate change

The expedition will gather in Longyearbyen, Svalbard (which is part of Norway) in Spring 2022 and fly to Barneo, a floating base camp located on the Arctic Ocean sea ice. 

The team will ski from a latitude of 89°N to the Geographic North Pole, covering a distance of 60 nautical miles (at least 110km) in less than 10 days. 

During this period, the research sampling project will have commenced, with structured protocols for collection of samples. The team will sleep on the ice in tents and travel by ski, pulling behind them sledges containing food, fuel and supplies for the entire trip.Not only can temperatures be serious (down to -40⁰C or so) but there is also a very real threat from Polar Bears that we must be prepared for.

The terrain is extremely challenging because the pack ice is always moving which makes navigation difficult, as well as significant bands of ice rubble that must be traversed and the likelihood of coming across open water. It is a swift and intense journey but one which will serve to gather vital scientific data, before the sea ice is gone.


Our Scientific Research

Even as it disappears, the North Pole is still a relative data blank. 

There is much detail we still do not know about this unique environment, an environment that is critical to fundamental global climate processes such as ocean currents, atmospheric circulation and climate change.The need for data is particularly acute because the accuracy of the computer models we rely on to predict climate change and future climate, as well as to unpick the causes and impacts of climate and environmental change that has already taken place, depends on the quality of the initial data provided.

We will be collecting data for two crucial research studies throughout the expedition.


Climate Change

NASA funded Black Carbon Research by Dr Alia Khan, Western Washington University

Black carbon primarily comes from the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels and biomass. Thus, shipping emissions and wildfires are regional sources of Black Carbon in the Arctic.

Black Carbon produced in the Northern Hemisphere is also transported to the Arctic via long-range atmospheric transport. In the atmosphere, freshly emitted Black Carbon aerosols absorb solar radiation, leading to atmospheric heating. Once deposited on snow and ice, the dark coloured aerosols enhance absorption of solar radiation, lowering the albedo (or amount of light that is reflected), which can lead to regional impacts on the surface energy balance, as well as localized melting of snow and ice.

Changes to the regional Arctic energy balance, may also have global implications.

Our North Pole Expedition will undertake a comprehensive sampling study – including both surface sampling and ice coring - of Arctic Ocean Sea Ice on a transect of the last degree of latitude.

The samples will be analysed as part of Dr Alia Khan's NASA funded study at Western Washington University to investigate the impacts of black carbon deposition on Arctic Ocean Sea Ice and will also be used to verify global aerosol and climate model representation of Black Carbon deposition and the consequent impacts on surface energy balance and climate change.



Testing to train and optimise behaviour, performance and health in extreme environments

DRiFT is a research led digital support system to train and optimise behaviour, performance and health in extreme environments that is being developed by Dr Nathan Smith and Professor Emma Barrett at the University of Manchester. 

The BIG North Pole Expedition will be field testing a beta version of the system to simultaneously contribute to a long-term study into the psychology of teams in extreme environments. The ultimate aim of the research team is to establish a system to be used in the field in a broad range of high pressure circumstances but particularly future interplanetary human exploration and colonisation.


Meet the Team


Felicity Aston MBE

Felicity is an experienced Polar Explorer, author and public speaker, who has led record setting expeditions to both the North and South Pole.

In 2012 she became the first woman to ski across Antarctica alone, a 1744km journey that took her 59 days and earned her a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.In 2015 she was appointed MBE for services to polar exploration and was awarded the Polar Medal.

She is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society in London and The Explorers Club in New York.


Shadi Ganjavian-Connor

Shadi is a philanthropist, adventurer and public speaker. An extraordinary talent for inspiring others, fuelled quite simply, by her sole desire to help the world. Shadi is co-founder of a community interest company SHAPE Hampshire which provides Mind, Body and Education support to Hampshire Schools and is also founder of Team GC, leading expeditions and challenge experiences which have raised thousands of pounds for charitable causes. Shadi has a passion for education and loves working with children and runs a series of inspirational talks to schools, communities and businesses.
Shadi is a fellow of the Royal Geographic Society


Sadie Whitelocks

Sadie is an adventure travel writer and photographer who has been based in London and New York and is currently on the map somewhere. 
Her storytelling exploits have led her to do everything from polar plunges on both sides of the globe, to completing the World’s Toughest Mudder 24-hour race in Las Vegas and attending the world’s highest dinner party on the North Col of Mount Everest at 7,050m.
Published in titles including the Daily Mail, Independent, Culture Trip, Adventure Travel Magazine, The Daily Telegraph and Evening Standard. Sadie is a member of The Explorers Club and a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.


Annabel Jackson Prow

Bel works with her Sister to run her family company, providing insurance and financial advice.
After recognising the challenges that families can have working together she set up a not for profit initiative to support and promote Family Businesses in the UK; this has raised over £350,000 for charities that support young people. When not working, Annabel can usually be found being active and having adventures, and has a particular interest in human powered journeys in natural and remote environments, be it cycling over mountain ranges, summiting 4000m peaks, running the long distance paths of Europe or swimming the length of UK lakes.


Andrea Fawell

A sales and marketing director for a home building company, an industry she has been in for 30 years.
Although she loves her job and her family she is at a stage in her life where she has the capacity to focus on her lifelong ambitions and prove to the working woman that it is never too late to achieve your dreams.
Andrea has Arctic experience by completing the Yukon Ultra Arctic Race in 2019 and was due to ski to the North Pole in 2020 before the Covid-19 lockdown. This has been postponed to 2021 and she is registered for the 430 miles Yukon Ultra race in 2021.


Emma Ranger

Emma is based in Bermuda and when not exploring the reef and coastline there works in reinsurance. Emma is passionate about the outdoors, and is a very keen skier, ski tourer and mountaineer, having climbed Mont Blanc along with other peaks in the Alps. Working in an industry based around natural catastrophe risk Emma is acutely aware of the impact of climate change on these events, the consequences these have on the world and why expeditions like BIG2022 are crucial for improving our understanding of the influence human emissions have on our natural world.



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Get in touch with Before It's Gone 2022: Arctic Sea Ice Research Expedition to learn more about our work and how you can get involved.

+44 (0) 7970 649779

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