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The purpose of the B.I.G North Expedition to the North Pole is to collect valuable scientific data about Arctic Ocean Sea Ice – BEFORE IT’S GONE. Led by Polar Explorer, author and public speaker, Felicity Aston who has led record setting expeditions to both the North and South Poles. The B.I.G North Expedition sets off in April 2023 to the North Pole.
In 2012 Felicity became the first woman to ski across Antarctica alone, a 1744 km 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. Felicity is also a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society in London and The Explorers Club in New York.
In preparation for the expedition, the all female 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. READ ABOUT THE SCIENCE
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Facing temperatures that can fall as low as minus 40 C/F, the B.I.G, the 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 bespoke GROUNDTRUTH sledges, 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. The team recently tested the kit in Svalbard in preparation for the expedition.
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The Science: In 1969 Sir Wally Herbert and his team became the first men to travel over the surface of the Arctic Ocean to stand at the North Pole. Just 50 years later, it is no longer possible to repeat his journey.
The last expedition to travel from land and across the sea ice to the North Pole occurred in 2014. Today, it is only possible to make partial ski journeys to the pole, using starting locations somewhere on the Arctic Ocean.
It is the alarming speed at which the sea ice is changing that makes this expedition so vital. Since the monitoring of Arctic Ocean sea ice by satellite began in 1979, there has been observed a clear trend of decline. It is not just that there is much less sea ice, it is also the case that what ice is there is thinner, newer and less stable. The rapid and extensive change to an environment that is critical to fundamental global climate systems such as ocean currents and atmospheric circulation will have far-reaching consequences across the world and will affect every aspect of life on the planet.
Even as it disappears, there is much detail we still do not know about this unique environment. 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 the climate and environmental change that has already taken place, depends on the quality and extent of the initial data provided.
Will this courageous team of women be the last expedition to ski to the North Pole, before the ice is gone? And what data will they bring back that can help guide solutions for climate change?
Stay tuned for updates from the Expedition team at @groundtruth.global