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After 31 days on the ice cap, Harald and Andre have completed their expedition. But not before some interesting experiences on the Western side of the ice cap. The transition from ice sheet to glacier to mountain comes with caution in navigating the glacier’s crevaces and the many snow lakes.

Listen below to the last few days of the journey, as well as some very nice final thoughts from Harald after they arrived at Kangerlussuaq, the small town and former air base on the Western side of Greenland.

May 17, 2008: Western mountains finally in sight

May 18, 2008: Nearing the mountains and end of the glacier

The aerial photograph of this area

May 19, 2008: A tough day, with snow and a white out

May 20, 2008: Navigating around the glaciers crevaces and under-snow lakes

May 21, 2008: Reached the end of the Greenland Ice Cap!

Remaining 3 km to go

May 22, 2008: Final thoughts from Kangerlussuaq

At the airport of Kangerlussuaq

Adam: “Harald, welcome home. I hope you can enjoy a warm meal and warm, soft bed at home.”

Harald (after his return)” Adam, thank you very much for all your support….and here some very first pictures of the expedition.”

Here’s the final map:

Over the past few days, Harald and Andre have reached DYE 2, a former distant early warnig radar station operated by the US during the cold war (built in 1960, closed 1988). Therfore they have made about two-thirds into their trek across the Greenland ice cap. Next to DYE 2 is Camp Raven, manned by a few individuals and used by the New York Air National Guard for training. I found a video on the Internet (not from Harald) that shows the camp and airplanes used during the training.

It seems that Camp Raven was a nice reprieve for the team, as they were able to interact and relax, briefly with people from some other expeditions and Lou and Mark, who manage the station.

Harald Fuchs using snow kite during training in Norway.

In one podcast below, Harald also talks about missing some good homemade German food. I don’t blame him.

Also, they’ve benefited from strong tailwinds allowing them to use the snow kites. I’m including another picture here taken during a training expedition earlier this year to give you an idea of the kites.

Finally, listen here to the latest podcasts. Harald is covering a lot of ground and is now coming into different terrain (lakes and, soon, deep crevices).

May 12, 2008: Strong tailwinds and snow kites to make 50km
May 13, 2008: Reached the DYE 2
and Camp Raven

DYE 2

Evening in Camp Raven


May 14, 2008: Time at DYE 2 and Camp Raven; then off again using snow kites

Hercules airplain from the New York Air National Guard


May 15, 2008: Getting hungrier and “Haraldin”, an home-cooked food
May 16, 2008: Transition from ice cap to new terrain – Snow Lakes

Finally, as you can see from the map, they are covering a lot of ground. If you zoom in, you can start to see the lake territory he is entering now. I can’t wait for the pictures.

On May 8, Harald and Andre reached the summit of the Greenland Ice Sheet. After a few days traveling on a plateau at the summit, they’ve begun to travel downhill. And judging by the map, they have been able to make more progress each day.

Listen to the daily audio reports as Harald explains the importance of the Greenland Ice Sheet, and describes the differences between the eastern and western sides of the ice sheet.

May 7, 2008: The importance of the Greenland Ice Sheet

May 8, 2008: Reached the Summit!

May 9, 2008: Traveling along a plateau; 360 degree views of the Greenland Ice Sheet

May 10, 2008: Good weather; very cold nights

May 11, 2008: Strong winds producing snow clouds and white outs

Due to a challenging schedule, I haven’t updated Harald’s blog daily as I’d wanted to. So, to catch up, I’m going to include a number of Harald’s podcasts below.

He’s been making great progress and has had some extremely interesting experiences and things to share.

And, for those wanting to follow along more regularly than I’ve been able to update this blog recently, look to the right on this page and you’ll see links to his podcasts as soon as he records them.

Listen:

May 1, 2008: Applying the 10 Rules for Polar Research to Business

May 2, 2008: Stormy morning

We love Sastrugi

May 3, 2008: How to navigate

Navigation with the compass

May 4, 2008: One Ski breaks

The broken ski

May 5, 2008: Minus 18 degrees in the morning, with a white out later in the day

May 6, 2008: Equipment for a polar ice trek

And, finally, an updated map:

As you can read in his introductory post, Harald’s goal for this blog is to help build a bridge between the academic and business communities on issues regarding climate change and polar research. Before he left, he asked a few of his friends and colleagues to contribute. Read below for the first essay, by Cornelia Lüdecke, PhD, a lecturer at the University of Hamburg, and president of the International Commission on the History of Meteorology (see the end for a full bio).


Polar Research, in Context of Climate Change and Global Warming

Cornelia Lüdecke, PhD, Munich, Germany

In the 16th century, the first polar expeditions to the Arctic first reported weather and sea-ice observations from high latitudes to which expeditions from the 18th century onwards added instrumental measured data from both polar regions. These early observations and meteorological data are essential to the investigation of climate change and global warming, because the ice cover of land and sea in high latitudes is very sensitive to variations of temperature and other meteorological parameters. Today these historic observations are used as proxy data for describing the climate of the past and the measured data are used as starting points for long-term evaluation.

History of Polar Research

1. Economic Interest

After the Treaty of Tordesillas in 1494, which divided new discoveries outside of Europe between the Spanish and Portuguese, exploration of the Arctic started in search of an alternative sea route to China – the Northwest and Northeast Passage – to evade the high taxes for sailing to the Far East. This economical background led to the discovery of the Barents Sea and Novaya Semlya by the Dutch William Barents in the 16th century and to the investigation of the Siberian coastline, the Bering Sea, and the Bering Strait by Dane Vitus Bering (an officer in Russian service) in the 18th century. The Swede Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld was the first to sail through the Northeast Passage overwintering, 1878-79. But not until the development of strong ice-breakers after World War I could the Northeast Passage be used to transport goods along the Siberian coast, to the big rivers Ob, Jenisej, and Lena.

It was much more complicated to find a sailing route through the Canadian Arctic. In the 16th century, British sailors John Davis, Henry Hudson and William Baffin gave the names to the Davis Strait and Baffin Bay separating Greenland from the archipelago of North America, and Hudson Bay within this island world. In 1831 the James Clark Ross discovered the magnetic pole of the northern hemisphere. In the middle of the 19th century, more than 40 search expeditions for John Franklin’s lost expedition proved that a Northwest passage existed. Finally Roald Amundsen completed the passage after two overwinterings (1903-1906). It was clear from the beginning that this passage was not usable for regularly shipping traffic. Further, Amundsen discovered that the magnetic pole was moving.

Antarctic research started with James Cook’s expedition (1872-1775) in search for the terra incognita australis, a construct of the Greek understanding of the world, where the known Arctic regions would have a corresponding Ant-Arctic in the south. Cook only found ice, but no continent, when he crossed the southern Polar Circle, which kept the area unexplored until a Baltic German Naval officer working in the Russian service named Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen made the first land sighting of Antarctica during his circumnavigation (1819-1821). His report of seals and whales attracted sealers and whalers like the British James Weddell, who made further discoveries like the Weddell Sea.

2. Scientific Interest

In the 19th century geographic questions triggered the start of scientific expeditions, for example the search of the magnetic pole of the southern hemisphere. It resulted in three national expeditions of the French Jules Sébastien César Dumont d’Urville (1837-1840), the American Charles Wilkes (1839-1842), and J. C. Ross (1839-43), who determined the magnetic pole close to the co-ordinates, which the German Carl Friedrich Gauß had calculated with the help of his magnetic theory. But it was still unknown whether At´ntarctica was a continent or a gigantic atoll filled with ice.

The need for meteorological data of the Far North led to the first international meteorological co-operation, in which twelve countries established twelve stations in the Arctic and two additional stations in the southern hemisphere during the International Polar Year (IPY, 1882-1883). This became the base for further International Polar Years (1932-1933, 1957-1958 and 2007-2008), during which meteorological investigations of the upper air were executed with the most modern instruments and methods of the time. This began with registering instruments fixed on kites and captive balloons, then moved to free-flying balloons affixed with radio transmitters to, finally, the use of satellites today.

Despite this, the northern coast of the Arctic and the interior of Greenland was still unknown at the time of the first Polar Year. The Norwegian Fridtjof Nansen crossed southern Greenland in 1888 for the first time reporting about very cold temperatures on the ice cap. The German Erich von Drygalski investigated the movement of the glaciers at the west coast of Greenland in 1891 and 1892-1893. Nansen’s famous expedition through the Arctic (1893-1896) aboard his ship ”Fram”collected a huge amount of various scientific data. It had been the credit of the American Robert Peary to guide many expeditions before and after 1900 investigating northern Greenland in search for a route to the North Pole, which he pretended to have reached in 1909.

During the International Co-operation of 1901-1903 Erich von Drygalski co-ordinated meteorological research in Antarctica according to the programme of the International Polar Year, in which his German Antarctic expedition worked together with the Swedish expedition under the leadership of Otto Nordenskjöld (1901-1903), the British expedition under Robert Falcon Scott (1901-1904), and the Scottish expedition under William Speirs Bruce (1902-04). The analysis of meteorological data together with other measurements indicated that the Antarctic is a continent of about 2000 m height. Ten years later, when Amundsen defeated Scott during the race to the South Pole (1911-1912), there was no co-operation at all between the British and the Norwegians, nor with the German expedition under Wilhelm Filchner or the Japanese expedition under Nobu Shirase.

Special meteorological programmes were performed by the German meteorologist Alfred Wegener, who established three stations at the west coast, the east coast, and in the middle of the ice cap of Greenland to investigate the meteorological condition of the cold region on the ice in 1930-1931. A year later a dense network of meteorological stations was set up to investigate the conditions of the upper air around the Arctic Ocean during the 2nd IPY (1932-1933).

Systematic co-ordinated meteorological measurements in Antarctica were not made before the International Geophysical Year (IGY, today called 3rd IPY, 1957-1958). The network of stations established at that time were the starting point of continuous meteorological measurements in the Far South. Now there are more than 50 years of data collection including ozone measurements, which led to the discovery of the ozone hole over Antarctica in the 1980s and over the Arctic in 1992.

Not only is the upper air above the ice sheets of scientific interest, but so also is the ice sheet itself. During the Greenland Ice Sheet Project (GISP, 1971-1981) several ice cores were drilled on the ice cap at the station Dye 3 (lenght 372 m), at Milcent (398 m), and at Crete (405 m). Finally another drill at Dyre 3 reached the bedrock at 2037 m in August 1981. Later the European Greenland Ice Core Project (GRIP, 1989-1993) completed a 3,028 metre ice core drill at station Summit in Central Greenland, which provided a detailed record of climate variations of the last 100.000 years.

International projects like the European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica (EPICA) started in 1995 with high expenditures to reconstruct the climate history of the last hundreds of thousands years. The drill at Concordia Station (Dome C, East Antarctica) was completed after three years in 2004 reaching a depth of 3270 m (5 m above bedrock). This is the longest ice core record revealing detailed climate and atmospheric changes including eight glacial cycles of the last 900,000 years. The drill of the second core at the German station Kohnen in Dronning Maud Land stopped at 2585 m in 2005 and covered the last 220,000 years of climate history.

In addition to the investigation of the climate in geological time scales, observations from satellites and those made from polar expeditions concerning growing or retreating glaciers, as well as modern satellite observations of glaciers and ice sheets provide an analysis of changes within small time scales.

Outlook

Although today satellites are available to monitor ice sheets and glaciers movements world wide, polar expeditions are still needed to provide meteorological and glaciological data, as well as to collect data to calibrate satellite measurements. The ongoing process of ground-based data collection is important to understand global warning and climate change. This information is essential for the business community and therefore to support adjustments of business strategies of companies considering climate change. It becomes more and more crucial as the ice of the Northwest Passage is retreating and the possibility of a new shipping route for transporting goods – especially oil – seems to become feasible in the future.

Cornelia Lüdecke is President of the International Commission on History of Meteorology and Chair of the History of Antarctic Research Action Group of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research. Her background is as a historian of science with a diploma in meteorology. In her PhD thesis she analyzed the history of German polar research of the period 1900-1939. With her second theses on special chapters from the history of earth sciences she passed her habilitation and became a “Privatdozent” (private lecturer) at the University of Hamburg.

She has participated in a number of international meteorological experiments in the Alps and in Australia and accompanied two scientific expeditions to Svalbard and two cruises to the Antarctic Peninsula as historian of science.

She can be reached at C.Luedecke@lrz.uni-muenchen.de

Harald gives an overview of the typical meal when trekking across the polar ice cap. It involves a lot of calories (butter, biscuits and bacon for breakfast – not bad).

Listen here: April 30 2008 Daily Report

The expedition has reached 1,600 meters above sea level, which Harald notes as significant as it’s two-thirds of the altitude of the summit of the ice cap.

Listen to the daily podcast here: April 29 – Daily Audio Report

In the podcast, Harald also recounts the 10 Golden Rules of Polar expeditions:

1. Go for both poles
We didn’t manage to even reach the South Pole the first time. But we never lowered our goal. Our final success was so much greater in the face of it.

2. Seek out the winners
We wouldn’t have made it without the aid of polar veterans, and they in turn learned from veterans before them. Every true success is a mankind joint venture.

3. Don’t cut food and fuel
In the short run, dropping food and fuel increased our speed. In the long run, it killed our expedition. Don’t undercut your survival.

4. Face the storm
Hiding out in a tent waiting for the sunny days steals crucial time. A storm always looks the worst from inside the tent. Face the storm.

5. Get out each morning
Get out there, every single day. There are so many reasons not to: Repairs badly needed, fog and whiteout. The winner moves when the others rest.

6. Keep moving
In temperatures of -50C, we wore only thin layers of clothing. In this situation, to stop was to die. When times are rough and you are the underdog, keep running.

7. Don’t think
Skiing thin ice commands swift and determined steps. Too much doubt in times of pressure kills the power of action. Don’t think, just go.

8. Be brutal
If you want to reach the impossible then you must continue where others stop. Tear down walls with your bare hands, crawl on your knees. But never stop.

9. Say only positive things to each other
We asked Polar veterans for their single, most important advice. Out of their advice, one turned the most important to us: “Say only positive things to each other.

10. You don’t have to believe to win
Faced with the facts, we could not believe in our success. Yet it arrived. You don’t have to believe in success. Just do the right things. And go.

And here’s the map to follow the progress:

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