Camped on a bit of old ice, surrounded by new ice.

by John Huston

This is John calling with a dispatch. Today's date, March 17th, Happy St. Patrick's Day everybody. Our 16th day of travel. Today we traveled 8 hours and 30 minutes and covered 6.0 nautical miles, our biggest day of travel so far, so we are quite happy about that.

On the Arctic Ocean we live on sea ice and it's a very dynamic environment. And sea ice is normally classified into a few different categories and today I'll talk about multi-year ice, which is called old sea ice, and new sea ice, which is just one year old. Up until recently the Arctic Ocean was, by and large, multi-year sea ice. Then starting in 2005 and continuing, there's been more and more first-year sea ice. First-year sea ice is a lot less resilient due to climate change and increases in temperature. It melts a lot faster. However, it also has less snow on it most of the time which makes it for better skiing

About half of our trip is expected to be on new sea ice, and that's the second half of the trip, from about 86 degrees north onward through the North Pole. And if you look at the National Snow and Ice Data Center graphics, which are taken off a NASA satellite, there are a few on our website and a few on the NSIDC homepage that are just fantastic, you'll see that over the past few years the old sea ice has decreased and the young sea ice, one year old, has increased by a large proportion. 2008 was the second lowest sea ice area coverage on record for the summer and that was taken in September. The previous low was last year 2007 and the previous low before that was 2005. How that impacts our expedition, we will find out.

We're camped right near a whole bunch of new sea ice that is very stable. It looks like it's perfect skiing, like one inch of snow on top of ice, and that hopefully will take us north quite a bit tomorrow. However, it makes for hard camping because we don't have ice screws, we just have snow pegs, and we need a bunch of snow to hold down the tent. We have snow flaps on the side of the tent that hold snow that's secure. So that's a little bit about sea ice. We've been traveling almost entirely over old sea ice which is why we are dealing with so many heavy snow formations.
All right, thanks for listening and we will check in tomorrow. Good night. Happy St. Patrick's Day everybody!

Daily Expedition Data
Date: March 17, 2009
Location: N83° 56.895' W074 10.629'
Time Traveled: 8 hours 30 minutes
Distance Traveled: 6.0 nautical miles
AM Temperature: -36°F
Wind: ~5 knots out of the SW
clear skies, sunny, good contrast