Replenished ice team head north again

After nearly a month in arctic conditions of minus 40 degrees Celsius, the Catlin Arctic Survey team are finally provided with supplies
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The Independent Online

After a successful first re-supply of food and equipment, the Catlin Arctic Survey Team of Pen Hadow, Ann Daniels and Martin Hartley have set off again on their estimated 85 day journey toward the North Pole.

The team endured an anxious three day wait, rationing emergency supplies of their food, as bad weather repeatedly prevented the supply plane from landing alongside them.

Pen Hadow, Martin Hartley and Ann Daniels from the Catlin Arctic Survey group are on a mission to capture accurate measurements of the thickness of the Arctic Ocean sea ice. With this data they aim to predict more accurately than ever before how long the Arctic Ocean's floating ice cap will survive.

They have been gathering data for nearly a month but they have experienced extreme and persistent storms.

"It’s been a pretty grim time waiting for the weather to lift enough to get the plane in," expedition leader Pen Hadow, said. "It’s no place to just hang around when it’s minus 40 degrees (Celsius), but we could not afford to move without our essential kit, food, fuel and batteries for our survey and communications gear. All of us are just wanting to get going quickly and have a high calorie meal to fuel ourselves up."

The team’s route through the Arctic Ocean covers around 850 kilometres. They have developed a portable, ice-penetrating radar which is being used to take detailed measurements of both the snow and ice. This will help obtain a clearer understanding of what is happening to the Arctic Ocean’s floating ice as it is known to have been shrinking rapidly in size, but there are fears it is thinning too, due to global warming.

"After being stationary for what seemed like a very long time, given the -40 degree C temperatures, it’s great to feel the snow under our feet again," Daniels commented. "The re-supply has lifted our spirits - the only disadvantage is the weight of the re-stocked sledges."

Daniels, Hartley and Hadow are each pulling a sledge that, replenished with freeze packed food, liquid fuel and batteries, weighs 110 kilos - the team must drag their loads through blizzards, white-outs, fog, and across ice rubble-fields.

"I wish I was stronger but I’m not," Daniels, whose sledge weighs almost double her body weight, admitted. "When we first set off my sledge was so heavy I could barely get moving. In the end Pen and Martin came to the rescue and took four bags of food off me."

The Catlin Arctic Survey group has made slower progress than it had hoped, but following its resupply will be looking to make up time as the amount of daylight increases and the weather improves. Unless conditions deteriorate, the team hopes to reach the North Pole by late May.