Countdown has started. We have to leave. NOW!

Last night we got a call we are going to be evacuated from the North Pole today.
Barneo (Russian Basecamp) has a crack across the runway which makes it difficult for the Anatov 74 airplane to land.
A helicopter will come and pick us up and bring us to Barneo and from there we take the Anatov plane back.

How they are going to find us is beyond me: we have zero visibility, full cloud cover, simply foul weather in the Arctic today.
Apparently when the helicopter gets close to the ground they throw down a tire for contrast.  Victor Serov, compassionate to our science mission, will try to postpone the pickup as long as he can but sometime today we will be back in Longyearbyen, Svalbard.

This is 4 days ahead of schedule.
At this point we feel lucky we pushed ahead of schedule to be at the North Pole because there are always surprises like these developing with consequences out of our hands.
A huge warming system is heading our way -25 degrees plus of what we have here- and the ice is reacting.
With a full moon on the horizon the Arctic sea ice will react to the tides and potentially crack the runway to the point it is unusable.
The thought of being stuck here here with 4 days worth of food and fuel is not so compelling.

The Arctic sea ice melts every year sooner then before.
This year with the ice being so thin due to its late freezing cycle, a whole other set of factors could be at play.

One of them is the impact of waves.
Waves break up the largely seasonal ice pack – like last week in the Fram Straight  – and this can  accelerate the drift with quite frighteningly quick response of the pack ice to storms.
Historically, the ice was compact and kept in place with fast ice from coastlines, little room to move.
But now the ice has become mobile, drifting all over the place.
We noticed how hard it was to capture the North Pole, the actual 90 degrees.
We did it with a GPS, imagine how one can do this with a sextant when it is on the constant move.

Barneo saw it first seagull this morning and the ice is cracking and open water all around them.
It is time to leave, the tipping point has been reached, it will be too risky to stay.
The wait is for another expedition that has been  stopped by a big lead close to the North Pole.
If they can’t find a way around it, they will have to get picked up and transported back to Longyearbyen.
They are currently trying to ski to the East to get around it but the lead is widening, so Victor reports.

As for us, we are still drifting on a solid plot at 89’55 North and 45W, already 9 km away from the pole now in the western longitude.

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