Polar News

Climate scientists prepare for largest ever Arctic expedition 20 September 2019

Researchers from more than a dozen countries are preparing to launch the biggest and most complex expedition ever attempted in the central Arctic – a year-long journey through the ice they hope will improve the scientific models that underpin our understanding of climate change.

In the €140m (£123m) Mosaic expedition, 600 scientists from 19 countries including Germany, the US, Britain, France, Russia and China will work together in one of the most inhospitable regions of the planet.

“The Arctic is the epicentre of global climate change,” said Markus Rex of Germany’s Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, who will lead the expedition. “At the same time the Arctic is the region of the planet where we understand the climate system least.”

Packed full of scientific equipment, the German icebreaker RV Polarstern will leave the port of Tromsø in northern Norway accompanied by a Russian vessel to search for a suitably large ice floe on which to anchor and set up base. As the days get shorter and the sea freezes around it, the Polarstern will slowly drift off on its own towards the North Pole while rotating teams of 100 scientists spend two months each conducting research on the ice.

Read the original news article at the Guardian.

Ice pick from Captain Scott's expedition sells for £22 000  08 March 2019

An ice pick once owned by a member of Captain Scott's doomed Antarctic expedition team has sold at auction for £22,000. The geologist, Frank Debenham, took the ice pick on the Terra Nova British Antarctic Expedition of 1910 to 1913 and later gifted it to a friend, who in turn gave it to the owner who sold it at auction in Cambridge. Its pre-sale estimate was £200 to £400 but the final price excluding fees was £22,000 – 55 times its pre-sales estimate!

Debenham was part of Scott's expedition but injured his knee while playing football in the snow and did not go on to the South Pole with him and four comrades, who all died in 1912. Debenham later helped found the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge as a memorial to Captain Scott and his four companions.

Diaries from the Fram Expedition up for auction 27 February 2019

Henrik Greve Blessing's diaries recording his experiences on the Fram expedition.

Blessing's registration of weight for the Crew of the Fram expedition.

Contract for Henrik Blessing to join the Fram expedition signed by Blessing, Nansen and Sverdrup.

Update: 6 March 2019 - The Blessing archive sold for NOK 600 000 (£52 500) to a Norwegian institution.

The archive of Henrik Greve Blessing, doctor on board Fram  on the first expedition towards the North Pole 1893-1896 is up for auction in Oslo on March 9th.

Henrik Greve Blessing (1866-1916) was one of Nansen’s 12 chosen men for the first Fram-expedition, where he was hired as the doctor. The Blessing archive is extensive. Around 500 handwritten diary pages and extensive letter correspondence, before and after the expedition, gives a unique and detailed insight in one of the primary expeditions of the Heroic Era.

Read more here

The archive is estimated at between NOK 500 000 to NOK 750 000.

 Shackleton's sledge smashes estimates  6 February 2019

A sledge from the first expedition to the Antarctic led by Ernest Shackleton sold for £143,750 in the Bonhams Travel and Exploration Sale today. Estimated at between £60,000-£100,000, the sledge was the subject of fierce competition from bidders in the room, on the phone and on the internet.

The sledge was used on the 1907-9 British Antarctic (Nimrod) Expedition by Eric Marshall – one of the four men, with Shackleton, Jameson Adams, and Frank Wild, to undertake the sledge march to the South Pole. Although they had to abandon the attempt, they reached within 100 geographical miles of the Pole – at the time, the furthest south ever travelled.

A detailed account of the expedition and the sledge's crucial role in it can be found here

Magnetic North Pole continues to accelerate 5 February 2019
At the start of the 20th century, the magnetic North Pole sat on the edge of the Canadian Arctic, nearly as far south as 70ºN. The intervening century has seen it gradually move further north, crossing into the Arctic Ocean just before the turn of the millennium. Over this time it has also been speeding up, from around 15 kilometres annually, to now more than 50 kilometres annually. At present it sits closer to the geographic North Pole than at any point since it was first measured by James Clark Ross back in June 1831, and it is rapidly progressing towards Russia.

The precise cause of this change is extremely complicated, triggered by the unpredictable movements of vast streams of fast-moving liquid iron within the planet’s outer core. Read more in the March 2019 edition of Geographical Magazine.

Antarctic team "upbeat" about hope of finding Shackleton's ship 27 January 2019

The Endurance sank in the Weddell Sea in 1915, after 10 months trapped by ice.

Antarctic explorers are to break their way through 75 miles of sea ice in an effort to reach the final resting place of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ship, the Endurance, which sank to the bottom of the Weddell Sea in November 1915. Expedition leaders believe they have the best chance yet to find the wreckage of the lost vessel, which became trapped in sea ice for 10 months and eventually went down in two miles of water after the crushing forces of the surrounding ice breached its hull.

Researchers on the SA Agulhas II, a 13,700-tonne icebreaker, hope to reach the wreck site later this week if the weather and sea conditions do not turn. But that is not a given in the changeable Antarctic waters, which have a knack for scuppering even the best-laid plans. Read more here.

US explorer Colin O'Brady completes first unaided solo trek of Antarctica 27 December 2018

Endurance athlete took 54 days to walk 932 miles across frozen continent, dragging a 170kg sled. An American explorer has made the first solo unsupported trek across Antarctica, an epic feat of endurance that took nearly two months and ended with an extraordinary sprint. He had spent 54 days in conditions that pushed his body to its limit, battling hunger, cold and solitude, often trekking almost blind through driving snow, struggling over treacherous terrain and pulling weeks’ worth of supplies on a sled. The total journey was 932 miles.

Arctic explorer's ship returns home after 100 years  8 August 2018

Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen famously beat Britain's Captain Robert Scott to the South Pole in 1911, becoming the first man to reach it. But his later attempt for the North Pole was not as easy - and the Maud, his ship for that trip, has finally come home.

She spent years locked in Arctic ice - and when Amundsen ran into financial difficulties, he sold it off. It became a floating warehouse and radio station under its new owners - before sinking off Canada in the 1930s. Raised from its watery grave in 2016, it has now been towed across the Atlantic to its Norwegian home - 100 years after it left.

Sir David Attenborough launches 'Boaty' polar ship 14 July 2018

Sir David Attenborough has launched the 10,000-tonne hull of the UK's newest polar ship - named after him - into the River Mersey. The broadcaster pushed the button, sending the hull sliding out from the Cammell Laird yard in Birkenhead, into the water where building will continue.

An official handover of the finished ship is scheduled for the end of the year. It is at this point that the RRS Sir David Attenborough can begin sea trials, and go on its maiden expeditions to the Arctic and the Antarctic.

Stonington Diaries, Base E, Antarctica 1 May 2018

Read the daily updates from the Antarctic Heritage Trust conservation team at Stonington as well as 'live' historical entries from the men who were stationed there in the 60s. We hope you enjoy the story of this unique and remarkable Antarctic heritage site!



Polar Explorer Shackleton's Lost Ship Could Be Hidden Under Antarctic Ice 18 April 2018

Julian Dowdeswell, director of the Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge in the U.K

will lead an international scientific expedition to the Weddell Sea on board a South African polar research ship, the Agulhas II, during the Antarctic summer in January and February of next year.

The main scientific purpose of the expedition will be to explore the edge of the Larsen C ice shelf adjacent to the Weddell Sea, which was exposed in July 2017 by the separation of a giant iceberg known as A-68. But Dowdeswell hopes the two high-tech AUVs can also search for the wreck of Shackleton's Endurance, which was recorded as sinking about 215 miles (350 kilometers) from the edge of the ice shelf, in a part of the Weddell Sea almost always covered by sea ice that's several meters thick.

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It's a boy: Sex of first UK polar bear cub in 25 years revealed! 16 April 2018

The UK's first polar bear cub to be born in 25 years is male. Born at the Highland Wildlife Park, near Kincraig, in December, the sex of the cub was confirmed when it was given a health check earlier on Monday. Staff at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland park are preparing a list of "suitable names" for the public to choose from for the cub. The park's Una Richardson, said: "It was very exciting to find out we have a little boy."

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China building Arctic expedition cruise ship for ‘Polar Silk Road’ 23 March 2018

China has begun building its first polar expedition cruise ship, state news agency Xinhua reported Saturday, as the country looks to shipping lanes opened up by global warming to extend President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road initiative to the Arctic. Construction of the 104.4-meter vessel, equipped with an advanced electric propulsion and control system for navigating sea ice, was expected to be completed by August 2019, Xinhua reported.

China released its first official Arctic policy white paper in January, in which it revealed plans to encourage companies to build infrastructure and conduct commercial trial voyages with the goal of building a “Polar Silk Road.”

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