The team has hit the ice!

This morning at 07:00 AM Bernice and her team have hit the Ice!
They left Longyearbyen in Svalbard in the night at about 03:00 AM

Antonov 74 Flying to Barneo Ice Station

The team has been delayed by about three days. the coming days are hard work as they have to get used to minus 30 degrees Celcius. Get used to the new environment. And, tomorrow they will have a fly over from the Icebridge plane of NASA. This plane will fly over the 2dgrees team and measure from the air the snow Ice thickness. Bernice and her team will do measurements at the ground at the same time at the same coordinate.
The plane will fly over on Wednesday and Friday.

If all goes according to plan (And during an expedition it never does…) the team will arrive at the North Pole on April 24. We’ll see.

Basecamp in Utrecht The Netherlands

During this time I am the base camp manager. Henk-Jan Geel
My duties are to have daily communication with the team. Update them with weather and ice drift/lead information. Contact with press. And emergency contact for family.

 

 

Updates will be placed daily on social media and Bernice will write a daily blog. Follow them here:
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Thank you for your support, help and effort in making this expedition a great success for all parties involved

Bernice and Henk-Jan in warmer days

stop and… GO!

The lessons to be learned on each expedition is that there is suspense and then a rush.

It is like being a surgeon in the operating room — you may have a quiet night but can’t wonder off too far just in case something happens and then when it does happen you are scrambling to get ready.

Our sleds have long been packed and repacked, our clothes on the bed ready to put on but we are getting hourly reports about the flight being postponed.

It looks like we are now flying at 3 am on the 4th on the second technical flight arriving at Barneo at 5 am and to the start of our expedition around 8 am, a long but spectacular helicopter flight.

We then immediately start skiing to get some miles under our belt since we are now delayed by 3 days.

We are excited and at least one step closer to departure.

Fingers crossed my next blog is from the ice.

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A must see on Svalbard: KSAT

If there needs to be something on your bucket list that you haven’t thought of it has to be a visit to KSAT satellite station in Svalbard.

First,  you will be blown away by the views of Spitsbergen on the drive to the top and once up there you think you landed on another planet.

Deze diashow vereist JavaScript.

It is impossible to get up there alone but since we are in company of NASA we got a special invitation to spend our Sunday morning with them.

Our NASA boys loved the control room – the list of satellites they are so familiar with and getting the antenna’s  ready to receive data when the satellites are approaching.

The satellites I like the most are the ones that fly the polar orbit – 14 of them and the most useful one right now is Sentinal 2B that just launched this fall and provides incredible images in the highest resolution.

In the control room everything is communicated in abbreviations and terms like AOS – acquisition of signal to the LOS – loss of signal.

It all matters between these two moments and the other 94 minutes when the antenna’s  are directed to get in position.

It is all programmed, in the control room the technicians are watching if nothing is going wrong as the board list each antenna getting ready in position every few minutes when a new satellite is passing by 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week.

The most important data is weather data used by everybody in the world who has a subscription to the Kongsberg KSAT services.

And the subscribers are many: NOAA to NASA , ESA to Universities and the Met offices around the world – everybody is tuned into receiving the latest weather data.

Most antenna’s can only receive data for 15 minutes before it  passed by but I think that is still amazing given that the satellites pass over at 1000 km in the air at an amazing speed of 2 km per second. The data is then send via fiber optic to mainland Norway and dispersed to the subscribers all over the world.

No interpretation of data is done at KSAT but when I talked to director Ole Petter Storstad he mentioned that the recent disaster in Svalbard in the fall made him want to take a closer look at what is happening with climate change in his area.

 

We went inside the room where the Sentinal B satellite is served and saw it in action as it was getting ready to receive data from the arctic that we all so desperate need to understand the vast changing situation up there.

John Woods from NASA was truly impressed with KSAT because here is where it is all happening in his world.

“To connect the dots and working on satellites for NASA  is one thing but actually see them distract information with these attena’s to the ground is whole other level”.

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88°N 150°E we aim for

We heard the news last night that we will not fly to camp Barneo, currently situated at 89º31’N, 048º58’, until 3 April and will now be going in on the second technical flight, not the first as originally planned.
Whilst this is disappointing for us all, as we’re desperate to get started on our journey, every cloud has a silver lining and the delay may mean we will have the opportunity to take and position buoys for NASA.
The buoys have a tracking device and will pinpoint the exact location of the ice and snow surveyed by the team, which will help NASA’s Icebridge program take a second survey from the air as they fly overhead.
They will continue to collect vital data long after theteam has left the ice and we are really excited to be able to add to the expedition in this way.
The buoys are  due to arrive in Longyearbyan on the 3rd but we are unsure if they will arrive before we leave.
We live in hope.
We have lots to do in Longyearbyan while we wait.
Bernice and Martin film for the expedition tv series while I busy myself with other expedition preparations such as affixing skins to my skis and having badges sewn on our clothes and fur on our hoods to keep the wind off our faces.
Kit is being modified and packed and as this is the launching point for most North Pole expeditions the place is awash with interesting characters all with wonderful stories to tell.
This afternoon we had a long conversation with the guys at NASA in Thule airforce base Greenland to determine the best longitude to be dropped off at so that the NASA P3 plane can fly directly above our transect.
88°N  150°E is the co-ordinates we will aim for.

Longyearbyen

Luggage finally arrived at 5 p.m. and immediately  we started frantically cutting our bars, cheese, chocolate and putting it into our 75 bags for our lunches on the ice.

What a job, the three of us in a tiny kitchen of Mary-Ann Pollariggen but now it is done and stored in our sleds.

We still have lots to do: putting our skins on and screw them in so they don’t come off, going through our repair kit, and testing and retesting our communication.

I am sure we can use a few more days here just to sort it all out.

 

That is the problem coming from different countries and checking each other’s kit to make sure it is not redundant or forget any important item, like the cable for the satellite phone.

 

Tourists are starting to trickle into Longyearbyen for snowmobiling and dogsledding and seal watching.

They are dressed like they go on a polar expedition with their heavy boots and jackets.

At night they wonder off with cameras to photograph the spectacular polar light and twilight darkness we still get here at 78°, ever so hoping to get a glimpse in their lens of the Northern Lights.

I would be out there too if I had the time because on the North Pole we won’t see any darkness for 25 days.

But I am doing admin and emails instead enjoying the warm atmosphere of the living room of our guesthouse .

 

Barneo drift

22 hours ago: Coordinates: 89º44’N, 065º47’E.
Weather: clear sky with slight haze, northern wind 8m/sec, and temperature -36ºС.

It is cold at the North Pole – the arctic has returned.

The drift of the ice camp where we are flying to on Saturday is fast so we would like to get dropped off at the  west side of the North Pole to avoid the southern and easterly drift.

Arrived in Longyearbyen with no luggage, still sitting in Oslo.

This is a setback since we can’t do much without my gear for preparation of the expedition and  I carry all the important things like ziplock bags, skins for skis, chocolate, clif bars, etc.

What better excuse than to catch up and drink a beer with polar friends like Eric our mate from the trip of 2014.

what is wrong with this picture?

Shouldn’t I be pulling a sled instead of paddling it?

Just because the conditions in the Arctic are unusual this year and preparing for the worst case scenario,  I dragged my sled to the Elk River today and took it for a paddle.

The swirly and fast moving water made me nervous and since it is still arctic here in Canada the thought of a flip in freezing water was enough to put a safety line on the end.

I am amazed how easy it is too paddle and have more confidence now to resort to this method in case we need it.

Large leads in the past have been expedition stoppers because you can’t swim across larges stretches of water.

But with an empty sled and sitting in the kayak it will work.

Still I am going to wear a survival suit – just in case I am tipping over.