1968. That was a hell of a year. The people were on the streets, revolution was in the air, we released the White Album, and perhaps the most influential photograph of all time was taken by an astronaut called William Anders.
Two of the scientists travelling with Greenpeace on the Arctic Sunrise are Dr Julienne Stroeve, a research scientist at the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC), and Nick Toberg, an ice scientist at Cambridge University. I asked them what research they would be able to do on the ice, and for some insight into why Arctic sea ice is so important, and what impact the melting would have on our climate.
The email was one of those ones that stop you in your tracks: “As a Greenpeace supporter, and newly elected member of the local Greenpeace General Assembly, would you be interested in spending a week on the Arctic Sunrise, investigating the largest summer melt of the polar icecap recorded since observations began?” Despite the short lead time, my answer was a quick Yes!
The Arctic has always been a place that inspires the imagination. A great frozen ocean at the top of the world where the northern lights illuminate the sky and huge white bears swim in the icy waters is a place like no other on Earth.
So we all know the Arctic is cold and white and in danger from exploitation by oil companies including Shell Oil, right? Not only is the critical ecosystem in dire need of our protection, it also has an endlessly interesting “About Me” section. Here’s what we think are the coolest things about the Arctic we found pretty surprising.
In just over two weeks I will be standing on the frozen Arctic ocean, preparing to ski to the North Pole. I'll be wearing four layers of fleece and a special hat that someone knitted for me. In my pockets I'll carry some almond chocolate, an iPod, and a declaration of hope for future generations.
This weekend, a team of 16 explorers is going to the North Pole to declare it protected on behalf of all life on Earth. Backed by millions, they will plant a flag for the future on the seabed and call for a sanctuary in the uninhabited area around the pole.