Category Archives: Blog

The sun returned

return of the sun
Just a few hours ago the sun returned to Resolute Bay in the Canadian Arctic. Tom Griffin, Kenn Borek’s manager send me this picture from his office today. I asked him if the sun gave any heat. He looked at his thermometer and noted it was -45°C outside. The days leading up to the sun’s return are often the coldest of the year, much colder then even in January. But the sun is more then heat, it is comforting for light and the sun makes you happy even if you can’t feel the rays. From this position, just a few degrees above the horizon it will rotate around in that position, never getting higher or lower until later in the spring. When we set foot on the ice, the sun will be halfway its highest point in the horizon, 23.5° so we will see the sun at a angle of about 10° – not even enough for a sun tan or a charge with the solar panels.

Sun returned in the Canadian Arctic

return of the sunJust a few hours ago the sun returned to Resolute Bay in the Canadian Arctic. Tom Griffin, Kenn Borek’s manager send me this picture from his office today. I asked him if the sun gave any heat. He looked at his thermometer and noted it was -45°C outside. The days leading up to the sun’s return are often the coldest of the year, much colder then even in January. But the sun is more then heat, it is comforting for light and the sun makes you happy even if you can’t feel the rays. From this position, just a few degrees above the horizon it will rotate around in that position, never getting higher or lower until later in the spring. When we set foot on the ice, the sun will be halfway its highest point in the horizon, 23.5° so we will see the sun at a angle of about 10° – not even enough for a sun tan or a charge with the solar panels.

Alaskan weather disaster

Here is Keystone Canyon and the Lowe River in Valdez, Alaska from 1/26/2014. Due to the high temperatures in Alaska, a glacier sized avalanche has blocked the river. An ice lake has formed, currently at an estimated depth of 60 feet and growing. The Richardson Highway is flooded and the town of Valdez cut off from road access. There is some concern as to when and how the lake will release and downstream and residents are on evacuation alert. This all happens in January in Alaska when temperatures soared in the 60 range. Extreme weather events will be common, even in Alaska!

Exit

We got flown off the ice just in the nick of time. A new weather system was approaching us and if Troy the pilot didn’t land we would have been stuck another week before they were able to get to us. The pick up it self was nail biting. It took many attempts to put the skis on the surface, test it and then take off again, come back and do it again. No place was great to land and they were searching hard to make it work in low visibility and bumps.

We landed at Cape Discovery for a refuel – at least I got to see the fast ice and the mountains of Ellesmere Island – before we headed to Eureka where we spend the night.

Next day off to Resolute Bay, repack our sleds, washed clothes, did email and took long showers. A new much stronger weather system was approaching, this one now spreading all the way from Alaska to Siberia with the low sitting right over the Arctic. A report of the Canadian Ice Survey called for 95 km/hr southwest winds by next week. The drift and leads would so challenging that we couldn’t possibly out ski the drift or pass the leads that would be enormous. So is it a mixed blessing to have to leave?That is the challenge with expeditions; safety planning and covering yourself for “the what if” scenarios, especially if you don’t know what they might be and then make a responsible decision based on that. I am still grasping it all, processing my experience, mending my frostbites and painful fingers, and feel utterly tired and drained. But the media can’t wait for it to settle on my time frame. After spending 24 hours in airplanes (just in Canada), a three hour drive home to Fernie and a 3 hour sleep, journalists were haunting me via skype and phone the next morning to know one thing: “Was it all worth it?”

The Arctic is an amazing place, as hostile and violent as it seems with the relentless storms we faced, we also experienced incredible beauty and serenity. Martin captured this is his photographs and film and that is what we need to show to our audience. This place is worth it. The film project continues, the next step is a scientific underlay of our experience with the reality of climate change and how this will impact the North Pole in the near future. Who are the players and what is at stake if we don’t act soon? Stay tuned.