Showing posts with label Climate Change. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Climate Change. Show all posts

Video: Footage of the Massive Crack in the Larsen Ice Shelf

If you've read this blog with any regularity over the past couple of months, you've seen me post several disturbing stories about how climate change is starting to have an impact on the Antarctic, including a recent article about a massive crack on the Larsen Ice Shelf that is spreading at an alarming rate. Today, we have video footage of that giant rift courtesy of the British Antarctic Survey. The clip was shot while flying over the crack a few weeks back, and it gives us a bird's eye view of just how large it truly is. In a manner of months, the crack is expected to reach all the way across the ice shelf, at which time it will collapse under its own massive weight, creating what could potentially be the largest ice berg of all time. It will also allow the glacier that is trapped behind it to tumble unfettered into the Southern Ocean, potentially causing rising ocean levels around the world.

Crack in Antarctic Ice Shelf Grew 17 Miles in Length Since December

I've posted some sobering reports on the impact of climate change on the Antarctic in recent months, but this one may be the most stunning of all. According to an article published by The New York Times yesterday, a crack in the Larsen Ice Shelf is growing at an incredibly rapid rate, signaling a possible complete collapse in the coming months, potentially creating the largest iceberg ever recorded.

According to scientists who have been monitoring the crack, it has grown by as much as 17 miles in the past two months. According to the Times, the speed at which it is spreading is accelerating as well, now growing at a rate of more than five football fields each and every day. At this point, the crack is now just 20 miles away from reaching its end point, which will result in the entire chunk of ice breaking free and slipping into the ocean, something that could happen as early as April or May of this year.

This is alarming for a number of reasons. Not only will it create the biggest iceberg of all time, but as that iceberg begins to float away from the frozen continent, it will begin to melt, and possibly breaking up into smaller icebergs that could cause problems for ships. But, more importantly, the ice shelf serves as a buffer between the ocean waters and the glaciers that sit on the continent itself. Without the ice shelf to help protect it, the glaciers will begin to melt at a much higher rate too, and will tumble directly into the water. If this continues to happen across Antarctic – and evidence suggests it will – we could see the start of a major rice in ocean levels around the world.

I know that there are still a lot of people out there who want to deny the impact of climate change. But, there is something happening to our planet, and the polar regions are the canary in the coal mine. In recent years, we've seen substantial change in both the Arctic and Antarctic, and those changes only seems to be speeding up. Perhaps with the austral winter now nearly upon us, we'll see things slow down at least temporarily, but the Larsen Ice Shelf is about to collapse, and at this point it isn't a question of "if" but "when."

To find out more about his, check out the entire story at NYTimes.com.

Video: Thru Hiking the Grand Canyon - Thirst and Threats in the Godscape (Part 3)

Today we have the third – and final – video in the National Geographic series that follows photographer Pete McBride and journalist Kevin Fedarko on 650 mile (1046 km) thru-hike of the Grand Canyon, as they explore the threats that that place now faces. They've discovered that amongst those threats are environmental issues, climate change, encroaching commercial interests, and more. As their journey nears and end, the two men face a challenge of their own – potentially running out of water in a remote corner of the national park. Find out how their expedition wraps up in this installment of the series.

Video: Exit Glacier in Alaska - A Tale of Shifting Fortunes

Located in the Kenai Fjords of Alaska, Exit Glacier has been a beautiful fixture for adventurers for decades. But, the glacier is now in full retreat, and as you'll see in this video it is doing so at an alarming rate. What once took years to accomplish now takes just months, and the changing nature of the surrounding area is having a profound impact of the environment there. At this rate, Exit will shrink to a mere fraction of its former size well within our lifetime, and there doesn't seem to be much we can do about it.

This video seems appropriate for Inauguration Day, when a President who isn't exactly committed to stopping climate change is taking office.

GLACIER EXIT from Raphael Rogers on Vimeo.

2016 Was The Hottest Year on Record

Stop me if you've heard this one before...

According to NASA and NOAA, 2016 was the hottest year on record, breaking the previous mark for the third consecutive year. And if that wasn't sobering enough news, the latest report on climate change also indicates that 16 of the 17 hottest years ever have taken place since 2000.

Studies indicate that the average temperature across the planet increased by 1.1ºC (1.98ºF) last year, which may not sound like much but it is enough to have a dramatic impact on large sections of the globe – especially in the polar regions. It also means that we're already well on our way towards surpassing the 1.5ºC goal set by the Paris Climate Agreement from 2015.

The cause for the increased temperature remains the same as it has for the past two decades, or longer. The burning of fossil fuels increases carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere, and the continued deforestation of rainforests – often referred to as the "lungs" of our planet. These harmful processes seem to be continuing to accelerate, despite efforts to reverse their effects.

Historical records of temperatures have been kept as far back as the 1880's, which means we have more than 130 years of data to compare the current trends to. It is also becoming increasingly more difficult to deny the impact of humans on the environment. As part of the report, Michael Mann, the director of the Earth Science Center at Pennsylvania State University,  said "The effect of human activity on our climate is no longer subtle. It's plain as day, as are the impacts -- in the form of record floods, droughts, superstorms and wildfires -- that it is having on us and our planet."

To make matters worse, the Arctic seems to be warming at a faster rate than the rest of the planet, with temperatures now climbing to 3ºC (5.4ºF) higher than they were a decade ago. That means an increased rate of melting of the ice caps, which in turn leads to raising sea levels around the world. That will have a big impact on coastlines, eventually putting areas that are now inhabited potentially under water.

But, there is cause for some hope. Scientists believe that 2017 won't be warmer than the previous years thanks to El Nino keeping things a bit cooler. This is probably a temporary state of affairs however, even if it does buy us a brief respite.

How anyone can continue to deny climate change is beyond me. Whether or not humans are having an impact doesn't matter any longer. It's happening, and we need to do whatever we can to halt it. It's not too late, but time is running out.

Video: Meet The Snow Guardian

Meet billy barr (yes, that's how he spells it!), a man who has lived alone in a cabin near Gothic, Colorado for 40 years. Over that time, he has been keeping meticulous records of the weather, how much snow has fallen, what the temperature on any given day is, and so on. Those records are now proving invaluable to climate scientists, who view billy as an invaluable resource. This is his story, as told by National Geographic.

Temperature at the North Pole Climbs 50º Higher Than Normal

It has been a record breaking year for temperatures all across the globe, as climate change seems to be wreaking havoc with our atmosphere. We got a reminder of this yesterday, when temperatures at the North Pole soared by as much as 50º above normal, reaching 0ºC/32ºF on the surface. That's the same temperature as the Arctic usually encounters during the summer months, but it is highly unusual for it get so warm at this time of year.

To put things into perspective, that means that temperatures were warm enough to melt snow and ice, even as winter is arriving in the Northern Hemisphere. That should set off alarm bells about the state of the polar ice caps, which seem to be already retreating at an alarming rate. We've had a lot of somber news from the Antarctic recently as well, but this is just another indicator that our planet is definitely in a state of flux right now, and we're running out of time to do anything about it.

It also doesn't bode well for any explorers hoping to make an expedition to the North Pole. If it is this warm in December, what will the conditions be like in March and April, or even into the summer. I know that there are a couple of expeditions planned for the Arctic next spring, but they could be dealing with unprecedented ice break up, and the largest leads of open water that have ever been seen at the top of the world.

Of course, we do have a long winter to go, and temperatures are sure to return to normal at some point. But so far, November and December have been unseasonably warm, and have climbed up close to the 0ºC mark once before as well. Worse yet, the long-range predictions are saying that 2017 could be another very warm year, with further melting of the ice caps.

I'm not sure how much longer climate deniers are going to keep their head buried in the sand. The signs are there, and we're mostly ignoring them at this point. Still, it isn't too late to try to make a change. Hopefully that will be the New Year's Resolution for some important people who are in a position to have an impact on policy and reform. Time will tell.

Video: Saving Antarctica for Future Generations

We've had a number of troubling stories late about the shifting environment in the Antarctic. Most of those stories have involved the collapse of the ice shelves there, which could eventually lead to rising ocean levels around the world that may impact our coastlines dramatically. In this video, we travel to the frozen continent to see just how things are changing there. It is part of a series of clips from National Geographic about living and working in the Antarctic, as we hear first hand from the researchers who work there just how things are changing. Along the way, we also get some incredible views of the continent, which few of us ever get the chance to see.

An Antarctic Base is Being Relocated Because of Massive Crack

It seems we've been hearing a lot about the shifting ice sheets in the Antarctic lately. Last week we learned that climate change is causing those sheets to collapse into the sea, and a few days ago I posted a story about a 300-foot (91 meter) crack that was causing another ice shelf to begin its inevitable drop into the ocean as well. Now, we have yet another story of the ice breaking apart on the frozen continent, and this time it is threatening an actual research station that will now be relocated to avoid disaster.

Yesterday, the British Antarctic Survey announced that it was relocating its mobile Halley VI research station due to the possibility that the ice shelf it is resting on could break off and fall into the sea. If that were to happen, the station currently finds itself on the wrong side of the crack that is developing across East Antarctica, and it would end up floating off into the Southern Ocean along with the massive iceberg. To avoid this, the base – which was designed to be moveable – will be towed 23 km (14 miles) inland to a safer position.

The Halley VI has been in its current position since it was first constructed on the ice back in 2012. It rests on the Brunt Ice Shelf, where it has been conducting research on climate change, the ozone layer, and various other environmental projects over the past few years. One of the things that scientists have discovered is that a nearby crack in the ice – believed dormant for more than 35 years – has begun to widen, and the entire shelf could calve off into the ocean.

Now that the Antarctic summer has arrived, a team of engineers has traveled to the base to begin uncoupling its 8 different modules, and start the slow process of relocating the station. While they do that, scientists will continue to conduct research at is current site in temporary facilities before moving back into the Halley VI next year.

I had two take aways from this story. First, this seems like yet another sign of climate change having a dramatic impact of the Antarctic with the third story of massive chunks of ice potentially calving into the sea in less than a week. And secondly, I'm impressed at the foresight of the engineers who designed and built the station to be able to move it relatively easily. Yes, it is a massive undertaking to relocate the base, but in doing so they are saving millions of dollars and allowing important research there to continue. It is a pretty impressive feat of engineering to put this base together in such an extreme place, and to move it is no less impressive.

It appears that Antarctica is going through a dramatic shift right now, and there probably isn't a thing we can do to stop it.

NASA Discovers 300-foot Rift on Antarctic Ice Shelf

Last week I posted a article about how climate change was causing the collapse of ice sheets in Antarctic, and today we have another sobering story to share. It seems that NASA has found a massive rift on the Larsen C Ice Shelf on the frozen continent which will eventually cause a massive chunk of ice – the size of state of Delaware – to break off and fall into the ocean.

The crack, which measures 300 feet (91 meters) across, was discovered on November 10 as NASA researchers were making a flyover of the region as part of a survey of the shifting ice in Antarctica. This is the eighth consecutive year that the so called "IceBridge" team has traveled to the bottom of the world to measure the impact of climate change on the Larsen Ice Shelf, and their findings were startling even to them. The crack extends for more than 70 miles (112 km) and is a third of a mile (.5 km) deep.

The massive rift doesn't go entirely across the ice shelf – at least not yet. But once it does, the chunk of ice will collapse, sending it into the ocean. For the researchers studying the changing area, this isn't a matter of "if" this will happen, but "when." It seems to be only a matter of time at this point, particularly since the crack has only continued to get wider and longer since the survey was there last year.

As mentioned in the article I posted last week, the collapse of the ice shelf itself won't lead to increased sea levels since they are already displaying massive amounts of water. But the removal of this ridge will clear the way for other sheets of ice on the Antarctic continent to flow into the Southern Ocean, which will cause water levels to rise globally. In this case, a sheet of ice roughly the size of Scotland is behind the Larsen C Ice Shelf. That entire section of ice will then become vulnerable and start melting into the sea.

This section of Antarctica has seen both air and water temperatures rise in recent years, which is of course having an impact on the ice there. The alarming thing in these photos isn't necessarily the size of the rift, but how quickly it is growing. Climate change seems to be out-pacing some of the predictions and models that we've seen in the past, at least in this area of the world. What that means for the future remains to be seen, but it is sobering to say the least.

New Study Finds Massive Collapse of Ice Sheets in Antarctica Almost Inevitable


A new scientific study published yesterday indicates that West Antarctica is going through some dramatic changes at the moment that include major collapses of the ice shelf found there. The study predicts that major shifts in the ice will occur in the years ahead, and it will have profound effects on the frozen continent, and the rest of the world as well.

Last year, a chunk of ice 225 square miles in size broke off from the Pine Island Glacier and slid into the ocean. At the time, researchers were at a loss to explain the phenomenon, but now believe they have discovered the root cause. A massive crack formed in the ice 20 miles (32 km) inland and deep beneath the surface. As the crack widened, the incredible weight of the ice gave way, causing it to collapse altogether and fall into the sea. It was unlike anything that anyone had ever seen in polar regions before. 

As we all know, Antarctica is covered in a massive ice field that is at much as 2555 meters (1.5 miles) thick in some points. That ice is held in place by large glaciers that ring much of the region. But now, those glaciers are in full retreat, particularly along the Amundsen Sea where the waters are warming, which is having an impact on the conditions there. If those glaciers continue to recede, and temperatures continue to go up, the Antarctic ice could melt and run into the sea, causing ocean levels to rise around the world. Worst of all, for many scientists this isn't a question of "if" but more like "when" it will happen. 

Researchers who studied the Pine Island incident say that the collapse of the ice shelf there isn't a new thing, and that it happens ever few years. What has them worried however is that the calving of the glacier started so far inland and so deep beneath he surface. They haven't seen that happen before, and it is an indication of what may be happening across the entire continent. 

The brief explanation for this unprecedented event is that melting due to rising temperatures is now occurring where the underlying bedrock meets the ice. And unfortunately Pine Island isn't the only place where this has been observed, as NASA also spotted similar activity in another part of Antarctica last month. If this becomes a common occurrence as it appears that it could, we are likely to see a dramatic loss of ice across the entire region. Worse yet, the results of the study indicate that it is taking place very quickly. Far more quickly than anyone had anticipated. 

This is just another example of how climate change – man-made or otherwise – is reshaping our planet. It is tough to deny that these things are happening, and while we have taken strides to help limit our impact on these conditions, it may be far too little and far too late. 

Video: Salomon TV Presents Guilt Trip in Greenland

When a group of professional skiers decides to travel to Greenland to attempt the first descent of a mountain there, they are understandably excited at first. But then, as they begin to plan their expedition, a feeling of guilt sets in over the carbon footprint that their journey will create. That's the premise behind this short documentary film from Salomon TV. And just what do these skiers do about this issue? They invite world renowned glaciologist, Alun Hubbard along to study the impact of climate change on the region. But that is only the very beginning of their adventure, which only gets more difficult and complicated from there. Their full story can be found in the video below.

Nat Geo Gives Us 10 Iconic Trails that are at Risk

If you're like me, hiking and backpacking are amongst your favorite pursuits. But, did you realize that some of the most iconic trails in the world are facing some major challenges. Between environmental issues, political infighting, encroaching commercial entities, natural disaster, and even war, these routes could potentially be altered or closed forever. To highlight these challenges, National Geographic has put together a list of 10 of the best trails that are currently at risk.

Most of the trails that earned a spot on this dubious countdown are ones that you've heard before. Each entry comes with an explanation of what is exactly at risk, and what the threat to the trail actually is. For instance, the first entry on the list is Arch Trail in Utah, which faces a number of threats that included ATV usage and the potential for public lands to be transferred to the public sector. The trail happens to be home to archaeological sites for former Native American villages, and it is seen as a treasure trove of knowledge on how those tribes lived in the distant past. Just how endangered the trail truly is is spelled out in the accompany paragraphs, with a final prognosis on its future too.

Some of the other trails that make the list include Stairway to Heaven in Hawaii (erosion, budget shortfalls), Bright Angel Trail in the Grand Canyon (commercial development), and Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania (climate change). I'll leave the rest of the list for you to discover on your own, but rest assured that each of the hiking routes are spectacular, and each is facing an uncertain future.

They say that the first step towards solving a problem such as the threats that are facing these trails, is to raise awareness of the situation. That's exactly what this article from Nat Geo is doing. By getting the word out to those of us who actually care about such issues, perhaps it isn't too late to save some of these natural wonders before they are lost to us all. Climate change is a difficult problem to solve on our own of course, but preventing over development of the lands and protecting the trails from misuse are all things that we can help prevent now. Maybe that will ensure that future generations will be able to hike these same routes too.

Patagonia to Close All Stores in the U.S. for Election Day

Last week I posted the news that REI would once again close all of its stores – and website – for Black Friday here in the U.S. Now, we have word that another major gear manufacturer is following suit for another very important day in America. Last week, Patagonia announced that it would close all of its retail outlets, its cooperate headquarters, and important distribution centers to on November 8, which is election day in the U.S.

The move comes as part of Patagonia's Vote Our Planet initiative, which encourages us to support candidates that take a tough stand on environmental issues, something that should be of major concern for all outdoor enthusiasts. The idea is to rally around men and women who are running for office that are looking to preserve the planet for future generations and protect wildlife and wild spaces.

“During a time of catastrophic environmental crisis, when America needs strong leadership to confront the fundamental threat of climate change, voter turnout threatens to reach historic lows as people are turned off by the ugliness of politics,” said Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario. “As a business, we have a unique ability to take a stand and choose to prioritize the health of the planet over profit, and I think it’s important we take that opportunity when it truly matters. We want to do everything possible to empower citizens to make their voices heard and elect candidates up and down the ballot who will protect our planet.”

Obviously the presidential election to be held next week is an important one for many reasons. I don't often use this blog as a place to make a political statement or support any one candidate over another. But I will say that the future of the country, and perhaps the world, rests in the hands of who will be elected to the White House on November 8. While I have my own opinions on who should or should not be in charge, what is most important to me is that everyone get out to vote. Patagonia is making that a little easier, at least for its own employees and customers. 

If you care about the environment, do a little research on the candidates in your area and get out and vote for the ones that are looking at ways to make things better moving forward. We are at a critical point when it comes to climate change and other environmental factors, and now is the time to have our voices heard. Vote on November 8 to at least play a role in that process. 

Barneo Ice Camp Closes for 2016

The 2016 Arctic exploration season came to an end last week when the Barneo Ice Camp closed for another season. The temporary ice base is built on an ice flow in the Arctic Ocean each year, and for several weeks it serves as the launching point for various expeditions, research teams, and well-heeled adventure travelers to travel to the North Pole or explore the region. This year it was clear that the Arctic continues to be a place in transition, with the future of travel there seeming more difficult than ever.

For the second year in a row there were now full-distance skiers to the North Pole. The logistics of such an expedition seems to be getting more challenging with each passing year, and climate change is making that journey more difficult than ever. I've said before that the toughest expedition on the planet is skiing to the North Pole, and we may actually have seen the last team to do that a few years back. Others have announced plans to attempt that journey, but no one has been able to duplicate it. That was the case this season as well with the Race Against Time squad, and I think it will probably be the same for future teams too.

2016 was a difficult year for the team that builds and operates the Barneo base as well. Not only did they have problems building and maintaining the ice runway there, they also ran into issues dealing with the Norwegian government too. The challenges with the runway were the result of the Arctic Ocean churning the increasingly thinning ice there, causing the landing strip to crack. Those problems aren't going away, and will probably continue to get worse in the years ahead.

The Barneo team has announced that they'll avoid traveling through Svalbard in Norway moving forward, and will instead use Franz Josef Land for their logistics starting in 2017. The friction with the Norwegians began when a reporter claimed that a team of Ukrainian commandos passed through Norway on their way to Barneo – something the Barneo staff denies – which calls into question whether or not the flights from Svalbard to the ice camp posed a security threat. As a result, the Norwegian government put new restrictions on the Barneo flights, which ultimately forced the change of direction for future seasons.

The 2016 Arctic season was reasonably successful with marathon runners, researchers, explorers, adventure travelers, and more passing through Barneo. Now, it'll be another year before we'll see if anyone can make the journey to the North Pole again. Good luck to the explorers aiming for that feat in 2017.

North Pole 2016: British Team Completes Expedition

As expected, the British Race Against Time team completed its journey yesterday, reaching the North Pole after 13 days out on the ice. The Pole marked the finish line for what was a demanding trek that began long before they ever set foot in the Arctic, and culminated at 90ºN early yesterday.

It took Mark Wood, Paul Vicary, and Mark Langridge just 4 hours to complete the final push to the Pole yesterday, facing more ice rubble and fields along the way. The squad saw plenty of that, plus plenty of other obstacles over their two weeks of skiing north, including open leads of water and blocks of ice the size of a house. They also witnessed the effects of climate change, with thinning ice, warming temperatures, and the Arctic Ocean uncovered in surpassingly large areas.

The 13-day expedition was far shorter than the trio of explorers originally envisioned. Initially the plan was to ski the full distance to the North Pole via the Russian side of the ice. Later, they decided to change directions, and travel from the Pole to Ward Hunt Island in Canada instead. But delays to the start of the expedition pushed back their start, making that much longer journey an impossibility. Instead, they elected to complete a journey that crossed two degrees of latitude instead. The shortened trip still allowed them to observe the environmental impact they had hoped to learn more about, but they had hoped to collect more data over a larger area of the Arctic.

The three men didn't spend much time at the Pole. They were picked up by helicopter last night, and flown back to the Barneo Ice Camp where they now are waiting for transportation back to Europe. It might take another day or two for that to happen, but soon they'll be on their way home.

The North Pole season will continue for another week or so as some "last degree" teams continue to ski to the Pole and some research teams wrap up their projects. Soon though, the Barneo camp will pick up for another year, and the Arctic will be abandoned once again. At this point, it is impossible not to wonder if the age of Arctic exploration is quickly coming to an end as climate change alters the landscape their forever.

The Impact of Climate Change on Everest

There is no denying that climate change is having a major impact on our planet. Temperatures are warming, ice caps are melting, and ocean levels are rising. As a result, some of our most iconic places are now starting to be undeniably altered by this shift in our environment. That includes Everest, where the effects of climate change are becoming more and more evident with each passing year.

Outside Online has the story of two researchers who have traveled to Nepal this spring to study the effects of climate change on the mountain. In particular, they are watching how warming temperatures are impacting the Khumbu Glacier, which has been receding for years. That will have a direct impact on climbing the mountain, making it even more difficult and potentially deadly. 

Everest Base Camp sits just below the Khumbu Icefall, an important section of any Everest climb on the south side of the mountain. Mountaineers must pass through this dangerous section using ropes and ladders that must be carefully placed, and meticulously maintained, for the entire season. But as the glacier melts, the Icefall could disappear altogether, making it almost impossible to climb Everest from the Nepali side. Perhaps a new route would be revealed under the ice, but that isn't likely.

Additionally, the crumbling glacier has also made the trek from BC up to Camp 1 a lot more dangerous, as evidenced in 2014 when 16 porters were killed in an avalanche. More avalanches are likely to take place in that section of the climb as temperatures rise and the glacier continues to feel the stress. 

The Outside article goes into more depth on the impact of climate change not just on the mountain itself, and the Khumbu Glacier, which is a source for fresh water further down the valley. As the glacier continues to recede, that water will become more scarce, directly impacting the people who live in the area. 

This is a sobering piece about how climate change is already having a major impact on a part of the world that is now seeing dramatic changes. Soon, it will become even more difficult for us to bury our heads in the sand over this issue as the effects begin to be felt in more widespread parts of the world. Hopefully we can do something about it before its too late. 

The Explorers Museum Announces 2016 Summit in Ireland

The Explorers Museum, a not for profit organization dedicated to promoting the continuing exploration of our planet through the recognition of significant expeditions, discoveries and explorers, has announced the dates and line-up for its 2016 weekend summit. The event will take place June 24-25 in Tullamore, Ireland at the museum's headquarters in Charleville Castle, where a host of luminaries will be on hand.

In the modern age, exploration is no longer just about important firsts and filling in the blank spots on the map. As The Explorers Museum recognizes there is a great deal of effort being put into learning about sustainability, preserving the planet, and making it a better place for those of us who inhabit it. To that end, the list of guests who will be attending the summit reflects these values. Additionally, the theme of the entire weekend is "Redefining Exploration," which indicates what the keynote address and sessions will be about.

You can read more about the summit weekend, check out the full line-up, and purchase tickets here. Glancing over the schedule, some of the highlights include opening ceremonies that include an address from Lorie Karnath – former President of the Explorers Club and founder of The Explorers Museum. There will also be a screening of the film Racing Extinction, breakout sessions that focus on fieldwork, climate change, the changing nature of exploration, and much more.

Tickets are on sale now, and it looks like this will be a very interesting weekend for those of us who value exploration in the 21st century. The setting at Charleville Castle – the Global Expedition Base – will serve as a fantastic backdrop to these discussions. I know I'd love to be there.

North Pole 2016: Race Against Time Team Finally Set to Depart, Runway Issues Persist at Barneo

It has been a challenging start to the Arctic exploration season this year to say the least. As we've reported several times, the runway at the Barneo Ice Camp has been problematic, forcing the relocation of the temporary base and delaying the arrival of researchers, explorers, and adventurers. Things continue to look dicey at Barneo, where problems persist, but one of the more high profile teams is now set to travel to the Arctic at long last.

The Race Against Time team, which consists of Mark Wood, Paul Vicary, and Mark Langridge, have confirmed that they are now preparing to leave for Barneo, where they will immediately hop onto a helicopter and fly out to the frozen Arctic Ocean to start their expedition. They will have approximately 20 days to ski as far as they can towards the Canadian coastline, at which point they will have to be retrieved from the ice, which could be a difficult proposition on its own.

This is a very truncated version of their original plans, which saw them skiing for hundreds of miles across the Arctic Ocean to reach remote Ward Hunt Island. Their plan is to document the impact of climate change on the region, while perhaps undertaking the final full-length ski journey from the North Pole. But now, they'll try to ski as far as possible while staying true to their initial expedition goals.

Meanwhile, ExWeb reports that the new runway at the relocated Barneo camp continues to crack under the movement of the ice. This second base is not proving to be much more reliable than the original, but a new location for the landing strip has been found and construction has already begun. Emergency supplies have also been shipped to the Ice Camp to help keep the team up and running while they wait for the regular supply planes to begin arriving. There is also word that the season could be extended into May in order to accommodate all of the teams that are hoping to get some time in the Arctic or at the North Pole this season. Right now, all of those men and women are stacked up, waiting for flights to resume. Already days behind schedule, they are of course starting to get anxious.

Hopefully the flights to Barneo will start to get back on schedule soon. I'll continue to share updates on the North Pole season as it begins to unfold.

North Pole 2016: Barneo Ice Camp to be Relocated After Runway Failure

Yesterday I posted the news that the runway at the Barneo Ice Camp in the Arctic Ocean had cracked when the first aircraft arrived to start the North Pole season. This had the effect of delaying all other flights to the camp and preventing the start of several expeditions. But efforts were underway to repair the cracks and get the flights back on schedule. But it has been revealed today that the runway is actually beyond repair, and engineers at Barneo have already begun operation to relocate the base to another ice flow.

ExWeb says that just 650 meters of the runway still exists following the damage inflicted by the arrival of the first AN-74 aircraft. That's a big, heavy plane that not only has a long range, but also the ability to carry a lot of gear and equipment too. Those planes are the workhorse at Barneo, delivering explorers, adventurers, scientists, and researchers to the Arctic.

Upon determining that the runway was beyond repair, the team that builds the ice camp immediately began searching for a suitable replacement. They found another ice flow within a few hours, and began the process of moving the base and creating a new landing strip. Unfortunately, that process will take 7-8 days to complete, which means that some Arctic expeditions will be delayed or may have to be cancelled altogether.

One such team that we've been following closely is the Race Against Time expedition, which was to have been underway by now. The plan was for three British explorers – Mark Wood, Paul Vicary, and Mark Langridge – to ski from the North Pole to Ward Hunt Island in Canada. That journey was expected to take a minimum of 35 days through tough conditions. Now, the team will have just 20 days to cover as much ground as they can.


According to reports on their website, the team will still embark on their mission to cross the Arctic, documenting the impact of climate change as they go. But they now know that they'll never reach the Canadian coast before conditions begin to deteriorate in the Arctic Ocean, as warmer temperatures and spring weather begins to take its toll. Instead, they'll ski as far as they can and be picked up by an icebreaker ship. They plan to be on the first flight out to the new Barneo Ice Camp once it is established, and will move on to the North Pole soon there after.

The failure of the runway at Barneo is another indication that the Arctic is warming. The privately built camp has been operating in the Arctic for years, and have only had one other instance when the runway cracked. But as temperatures rise, the ability to travel in the Arctic will become compromised, and possibly even more dangerous. How this will impact future trips to the region remains to be seen, but it seems that the location of future Barneo camps will need to be selected very carefully.

For now, the 2016 North Pole season is at a standstill. Stay tuned for more updates in a few days.