March 25, 2009

Arctic Researchers Report Slow Progress Due To Extreme Conditions

A team of researchers from the UK who set off to measure the thickness of Arctic sea-ice that floats toward to the North Pole have been stuck battling extreme weather that has slowed their progress, BBC News reported.

After landing on the ice three weeks ago, researchers Pen Hadow, Martin Hartley and Ann Daniels have experienced temperatures as low as -40C with wind chill.

However, the weather has currently turned in their favor and the Catlin Arctic Survey team is now covering more than 6 miles a day.

The researchers have employed a novel mobile radar dragged behind a sledge to record the thickness of the sea ice.

Once the necessary data is collected, the team will calibrate satellite observations of the Arctic ice and constrain the computer models that are used to forecast its likely response to global warming.

The researchers narrowly avoided what would have been a premature end to the study, as re-supply flights were grounded and the team got down to its last 12,000 calories of food rations.

The conditions faced by the team at the beginning of the trek were among the worst in the region, according to Pen Hadow, the first person to walk unsupported to the North Pole.

Fortunately, the scientists may soon be able to make more rapid progress towards their goal, as recent weather reports forecast more favorable winds in the coming days.

So far they have not yet been able to transmit any radar data direct from the Arctic, as planned.

The team has uploaded what data it has collected so far onto a digital card that will return with the re-supply flight.


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