Pen Hadow, the British explorer, is today due to start a sailing expedition across the Arctic Ocean to highlight the effects of climate change, including an attempt to reach the North Pole.
The voyage will see Hadow’s Arctic Mission expedition, which will involve two yachts, traverse regions of open water that were once permanently blocked by pack ice.
This weekend, however, scientists said satellite images suggested the North Pole would remain inaccessible except by an icebreaker.
This summer has already seen the Arctic sea ice reach its fifth-lowest recorded area in July, falling to 3.2m square miles, about 610,000 square miles below the long-term average. Since then it has declined even further, reaching 2.3m square miles last week.
Scientists warned, though, that despite the rapid melting of the ice there was unlikely to be access to the North Pole via open water for some years.
Professor Mark Serreze, director of America’s National Snow and Ice Data Centre, said the North Pole was still surrounded by nearly 800 miles of solid pack ice as of last week.
Past failed polar treks:
The Antarctic ‘research’ fiasco – ‘would you, could you, in a boat’? — Dr. Richard Tol mocks: ‘There has been a strong and statistically significant upward trend in climate-change-related public-relations disasters’
Flashback 2004: UK’s Chief Scientist Sir David King declares: ‘Why Antarctica will soon be the only place to live – literally’ due to global warming — Fast Forward to 2013: UK Guardian global warming reporter says that the Antarctic summer is too cold for humans:
1969 New York Times: Princeton scientists worried that Antarctic ice would start a new ice age – 1969 Theory in NYT: ‘Ice ages start when a large section of the Antarctic ice sheet slips off the continent, and spreads to form an ice shelf as large as Asia and 600 feet thick. This ice would reflect back into space so much solar energy that the world would cool enough to start an ice age.’
Australian climate change professor Chris Turney of U. of New South Wales who warned about melting East Antarctic remains trapped in thick ice – Turney: ‘There is an increasing body of evidence, including by the AAE members, that have identified parts of the East Antarctic which are highly susceptible to melting and collapse from ocean warming’