Pen Hadow returns to Arctic to study acidification of the oceans

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

A A A

The explorer Pen Hadow is mounting a new expedition to the Arctic to research “climate change's evil twin” – the acidification of the oceans caused by emissions of carbon dioxide.



Click
here to see a map of the expedition.

Starting next month, his team will face temperatures of minus 75 – when the wind chill factor is included – as well as frostbite, thin ice and polar bears, to sample sea water far out over the sea ice, as well as from a base in Arctic Canada. They will be seeking to measure how far soaring emissions of CO2 from industry and transport are turning the waters acidic – a phenomenon which may pose a serious danger for marine life.

It will be the second successive year that Mr Hadow, who in 2003 became the first man to walk unaccompanied to the North Pole, has led an Arctic expedition to investigate climate-related problems. Last year, in the Catlin Arctic Survey 2009, he headed a mission to map in detail the thinning of the floating sea ice with rising temperatures. The Catlin Arctic Survey 2010 will bring together marine biologists, oceanographers and explorers to investigate the impact of increased CO2 absorption by the seas.

Acidification, which occurs when CO2 reacts with water to produce carbonic acid, is believed in to threaten the marine food chain, by damaging organisms at its bottom which use calcium carbonate to build their shells or structures. As reported in today’s Independent, scientists at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in San Diego said this week that if CO2 emissions continued on their present course, rising acidification would lead to all the world’s coral reefs beginning to disintegrate by the end of the century.

Global CO2 emissions, which were about 21bn tonnes in total in 1990, are something over 30bn tonnes annually now, and are thought to be rising at about two per cent per year.

The case of the Arctic Ocean is perhaps even more urgent, as the cold waters of higher latitudes absorb more CO2 than the warm waters of the tropics. "Hardly anyone goes to the Arctic Ocean – they don't see it, they don't experience it and, inevitably, the understanding is low on a global basis of what the Arctic Ocean is,” Pen Hadow said today. “It’s my view that never has there been a greater need for exploration if we are to understand how the natural world works.”

Six scientists will be among a group of 12 travelling to an “ice base” on Ellef Ringnes Island on the edge of the Artic Ocean to take water measurements, while others will be trekking out onto the sea ice itself.

In case of polar bear attack, Mr Hadow said the team would carry "bear bangers" – a kind of warning firework – but would also be armed. He added that although in his exploring career the had encountered polar bears between 20 and 30 times, he had never had to shoot one, and had only hurt one once, when a bear poked its head into its tent. “I hit it on the eyebrow with a saucepan, which made a Booing! noise,” he said. “The bear fled. I think it was as scared by the noise as much as by me hitting it.”

Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Diana from the Great British Bake Off 2014
tvProducers confirm contestant left because of illness
News
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reportedly married in secret on Saturday
peopleSpokesperson for couple confirms they tied the knot on Saturday after almost a decade together
Life and Style
Chen Mao recovers in BK Hospital, Seoul
health
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Client-Side web developer (JQuery, Javascript, UI, JMX, FIX)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Client-Side web developer (JQuery, Javascript, U...

Structured Finance

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - An excellent new instruction w...

SQL Server Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL Server Developer SQL, PHP, C#, Real Time,...

C#.NET Developer

£600 per day: Harrington Starr: C#.NET Developer C#, Win Forms, WPF, WCF, MVVM...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff