Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Devon explorers going to the N Pole - again

Both Pen Hadow who lives at Hexworthy on Dartmoor and Ann Daniels residing at a somewhat lower altitude at Whimple in East Devon have separately been to the geographic north pole. So it could be asked why they intend to join forces and walk the 1200 miles from Point Barrow in Alaska as directly as possible to the pole next year. They've been there, done that and probably have the tee shirt.

Well together with photographer Martin Hartley, who is also no stranger to polar expeditions, they are heading up the team for the Vanco Arctic Survey. This is all about trying to ascertain the thickness of the polar ice and from this scientists will get a much clearer idea of when completely ice free summers in the Arctic might start to occur.

Up until now the experts have had to rely on observations from military submarines and from satellites but for various reasons these techniques are not wholly accurate. The better way is to do a direct surface survey. A lightweight but immensely strong sledge will be packed with high tech equipment, it also has flotation equipment for those times when they have to swim through open water. A ground penetrating radar set up will be towed behind the sledge and every few centimetres it will measure the thickness of the ice and, here's a clever bit, it will distinguish between the underlying ice and the covering snow.

I remember being at a talk Pen Hadow gave at Tavistock once and found him to be a very inspiring person. Good luck to him and to Ann and Martin.

There is a detailed website concerning the Vanco Arctic Survey here.

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