The purpose of this ski expedition to the North Pole is to collect valuable scientific data about Arctic Ocean Sea Ice – BEFORE IT’S GONE.
In preparation for the expedition, the team have been working with key expert science collaborators to design ways in which their ski journey to the North Pole can be put to the best use to gather much needed data about this most inaccessible part of the world, a region which is so fundamental to much of the world’s climate systems.
The information gathered by the expedition will be used in a number of different studies being undertaken by scientists in the UK and beyond, at the University of Manchester, the National Oceanography Centre, the University of Colorado and NASA.
What do the team members of an Arctic scientific expedition do in the summer?
It’s three months since the BIGnorthpole team returned from Svalbard and each member has been busy enjoying the summer weather but the unease about the unprecedented 40.3c temperatures recorded in England in mid-July was justified when the Met. Office issued its first ever Red Extreme heat national severe weather warning for parts of the UK and at the end of the month the World Weather Attribution group – a collection of leading climate scientists who meet after extreme weather events – reported that these temperatures would be “almost impossible” without human-induced climate change. Dr Friederike Otto of Imperial College London, who leads the World Weather Attribution group, told BBC News that “We would not have had last week’s temperatures without climate change, that’s for sure. These temperatures are at least 2C higher, but the real number is probably closer to 4C higher, than a world without human-caused climate change”. (source BBC News).
The team look forward to coming together in the Autumn to plan their April 2023 expedition to collect the samples of Arctic sea ice for black carbon, microplastics and heavy metals. The findings from the analysis of the samples is more important than ever and they cannot wait to be back out on the ice.
The summer has seen the team indulging in passions away from sub-zero temperatures. Felicity has been busy with the eider down collection season on her Island, Vigur, Iceland, welcoming responsible tourism to this unique and fragile environment. Sadie has continued her travel journalism with highlights such as trekking to see rare mountain gorillas in Uganda. Kalyani is focusing on an exciting project with the BBC National History department which she expects to start shooting in the Autumn. Emma in Burmuda is working and playing hard, enjoying the golf course when the chance arises. Annabel has been revelling in hiking in the Austrian Alps and training hard for swimming the length of Ullswater and Windermere, without a wetsuit! Andrea proudly completed the Summer Spine 268mile non-stop race up the Pennine Way from Derbyshire to the Scottish Borders in June. She is thrilled to have been accepted by Oxford University for an MSc in Sustainable Urban Development starting in October.
Facing temperatures that can fall as low as ‑40C/F, the B.I.G. expedition team will ski the last degree of latitude across the surface of the frozen Arctic Ocean to reach the North Pole in April 2023.
Hauling everything they will need during their journey in sledges that they drag behind them, they will camp out on the ice and use the 24-hour daylight to navigate their way through obstacles of ice rubble and open water out on the pack ice.
It is a constantly shifting landscape that poses many risks, including polar bears, and a part of the world only accessible to skiers thanks to a complex logistical operation behind the scenes.
We are proud to be a flag carrier expedition for both The Explorers Club and Wings World Quest.
‘We are proud to support this incredibly important expedition to the North Pole, which will provide vital scientific data to further our understanding of the affect of air pollution on climate change and the melting of our polar ice caps’
I, along with everyone at The White Feather Foundation, am proud to support this truly historic mission to help us understand the impacts of climate change.
Not only will the team’s sea ice research provide vital scientific information, that has never previously been available, but I also see the incredible importance in the research they will conduct, regarding their mental health and the dangers these courageous women will endure, on their journey. Their work will empower all of us to take the best actions possible, to minimise the damage to our planet and all of her inhabitants.
Iceland Training Trip November 2021
In preparation for skiing the Last Degree to 90 degrees north in April 2023 we embarked on a training trip to Iceland to spend 6 days on Vatnajokull, the largest glacier in Europe, to gain the vital skills we will need to collect samples of snow and ice on our ski to the North Pole.
We were joined by Dr. Ulyana Horodyskyj, climate communication specialist for the North Central Climate Adaptation Science Centre at University of Colorado Boulder, who will be using the samples we collect to map the capture in the polar ice of black carbon and albedo.
It was also an opportunity for Felicity Aston to test her protocol for collecting samples of the snow and ice for the presence of microplastics. Other research methods we tested included Mountain Hub and Globe Observer apps. feeding much needed data on snow conditions and cloud formations respectively to NASA satellites.
We endured winds measuring 76mph which kept us tent-bound for several days. Regularly needing to dig ourselves out we used the time to fine-tune our life-saving tent skills and the team soon bonded.
Making it to Grimsvotn, at the top of the glacier, was other worldly, the enormity of the task dawning on us all. Hardship breeds resilience and overall it was a fabulous and successful week.
The B.I.G. expedition team was created by polar explorer Felicity Aston MBE. Gathered via social media during the virtual era caused by covid, the team are six British women from all corners of the UK with a broad range of skill sets and life experiences. What they have in common is a desire to give back, while simultaneously pushing themselves and encouraging others.
The team are each accomplished adventurers but none – bar Felicity – have ever embarked on an expedition like this. The expedition serves to prove that everyone has a valuable part to play in the global effort to create a better future for our planet.
This group of strong women have my full support in what they are setting out to achieve, particularly in conducting crucial research about the state of ice around the polar cap.
During my lifetime I have seen the impact of climate change, with increased forest fires, flooding, rising temperatures and sea levels rising at their fastest rate for 2,000 years. We are facing a climate emergency and my generation will be judged by subsequent ones on how it responds. We have got to push for change, with government’s key in making essential policy changes. We all have a part to play in saving the planet. I want there to be a healthy natural world for my children and grandchildren to enjoy. I commend the B.I.G North Pole team for the way they are highlighting this urgent issue and making people stop and think.
“At GROUNDTRUTH we create products without compromise, in terms of supply chain ethics, material and environmental integrity. We care about stories, cross pollination and solution-based problem solving across cultures and industries. Working with the B.I.G North encompasses everying we stand for, strong leadership and brave decision making for climate action. ” – Sophia Scott. Co-Founder