Bernice hauls herself & her sledge out of yet another invisible hole in yet another day of ‘whiteout’
Eric Philips looking a bit epic after the strain of days of relentless hauling through a blank white canvas begin to show
In the last years you might have heard more often of the term ‘sustainability’ or politics asked for ‘sustainable development’ in the world. The ‘inventor’ of the sustainability term for forestry was Hans Carl von Carlowitz and it was extended for more natural resources in the 19th century.
The three important pillars of sustainability are the planet, the people and prosperity, also: environmental, social and economic issues. The word’s definition has its origin from Carlowitz’s book from 1713, ‘Sylvicultura oeconomica, or haußwirthliche Nachricht und Naturmäßige Anweisung zur wilden Baum-Zucht’. The last half of the title can be loosely translated as ‘or the economic news and instructions for the natural growing of wild trees’. A wider definition can be found inside the book:
‘Therefore it will be the greatest art/science/diligence and establishment on this land / to achieve such a conservation and cultivation of wood / that there will be a continuously resistant and sustainable use of it / because it is an indispensable thing / without which the country does not want to stay in its existence.’
The term and book were born in a time of crisis because wood wasn’t used with thinking about future generations or even upcoming years. The extensions and our current definition of the term ‘sustainability’ are also a result of times of stress – scientists and other people realize that we can’t keep up with our current use of resources if we want to pass our environment on to future generations.
Today was a real mood buster. Again a day with the same. Dim, gloomy and zero visibility. We also got into areas of pressure ridges again, ice blocks now covered with snow for the extra challenge. Between the ice blocks is slushy half frozen water of a brilliant blue colour and easily mistaken for sturdy ice until you step on it. Since the 84th latitude the pressure ridges have increased in size and in frequency. The flat pans are getting smaller and that is where you usually can speed up to get some distance. But not today. The predominant Southwest winds have formed frozen sand dunes perpendicular to our ski direction which means you have to negotiate many bumps in flat light. Good news about today is we didn’t have to swim or raft a lead in this nasty weather that doesn’t know when to stop. We all feel frustrated. We make no progress, the mixture of pressure ridges and the many leads in flat light makes not only challenging but dangerous. The Arctic is a grim place when it is like this and offer no solace for the mind or soul. It loses all its attractiveness and turns hostile if you let it get to you. No wonder early explorers suffered from bouts of depression when they had to deal with conditions like these. I wonder if a doses of prozac will make it better out here if you need to get rid of the polar blues for a day.
Then in the midst of a pressure ridge you find an amazing piece of multiyear ice, with different bands of colour, algae and icicles. This piece is at least a few years old and hopefully will survive this summer melt. The block of ice reminds me of a humpback whale when it emerges from the water, and you see the baleen hanging of it. That was all I needed today, a reminder how precious The Arctic really is.
Ditto, all of the above, etcetera, Groundhog Day….. Ho hum, today was just like the previous week – blizzarding, poor visibility, pressure ice, soft leads. Ho hum! 6km today. Ho hum!
With this run of bad luck since resupply I am beginning to ponder the future of this expedition.
Pic negotiating a lead full of barely-frozen rubble. These are often treacherous as each weighted block is a time bomb waiting to dislodge and disappear into the drink, followed by a boot and perhaps the hapless soul attached to it.
The blizzard has been unrelenting. It blew all night but the morning was full of promise with a hopeful sun peeking through the cloud. But an hour after kick-off a black ball swept across from the SW and before long we were in a snow dome. All visibility had gone, again. I am so accustomed to skiing blind that any kind of resolution on the horizon seems like such a luxury. Wind forecast to continue tomorrow but easing Sunday. Hallelujah!
A good surface mostly and we claimed 10km from the ocean, but camped next to a lead that we were too exhausted to find a way across.
Pic of my sled – Josephine – with Bernice and Martin approaching.
The last week you learned about the Arbor Day and that this year’s celebrated tree will be officially acknowledged on the 25th of April. By the choice of the tree of the year either the rarity of a species or the risks posed by new forest damage and tree diseases shall be highlighted.
This year we are celebrating the sessile oak. It is a type of beech plants and can turn up to 800 years old and up to 40 meters high. In German forests only 10% of all trees are oaks. There are two different types: the sessile oak and the English oak. The sessile oak is also called Cornish oak or durmast oak. Its flowering time is between April and May and the fruits are acorns which turn ripe between September and October.
Spent whole day falling over things! Zero contrast & strong winds in the face all day!
The feverish temperature rise in the Arctic has puzzled scientists: The most up-to-date climate models, such as those in the fifth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, fail to reproduce the rapid warming seen in the Arctic.
Researchers see a link between tropical sea-surface temperatures and the North Atlantic Oscillation, a climate pattern that dominates Arctic weather. Since the 1990s, warm sea-surface temperatures in the western Pacific and cool waters in the eastern Pacific have pushed the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) into a pattern that allows high pressure above Greenland and the Canadian Arctic. (High atmospheric pressure leads to warmer temperatures.) The NAO was in a negative fase in march and april hence the violent storm and cold weather we were experiencing in April and we are now again since the last 12 days in another cycle of west winds (drifting again to the east) and lots of snowfall. With predominant high pressure systems in the Arctic, storms usually come and go but we notice that they linger and come with lots of wind and moisture.
Definitely a better day although we skied in zero visibility all day. Not sure if you get used to it or we have forgotten what sunshine was all about. Goggles, face masks, hats, and many layers in the frigid blasting winds today, a classic north pole day. Hit the 200 km mark – if we are not drifting back tonight (4 km to the east last night).
Last but not least, we are introducing our third expedition team member. It is the expedition leader Bernice Notenboom. She is a Dutch climate journalist and professional adventurer. She is the first woman who has traveled the South Pole, the “Cold Pole” in Siberia and the Greenland ice on skis in one year (2008).
Moreover, she has climbed the Mount Everest in 2009 to raise awareness of the changes from the Ganges Delta to the Summit of the Mount Everest due to climate change and traveled 1000 km on the river Niger by kayak in 2010. The latter was also focused on one of the so-called “tipping points” of climate change, namely the impact on local population along the river. With the participation in the Expedition Hope she is trying to increase people’s awareness of the Arctic environment and its possible vanishing if climate change its toll.