From Qaanaaq, the largest community in the region, the tour will continue north with two dog-sleds along the coast to the Humboldt and Petermann glaciers, both of which are shrinking at an extremely fast pace due to the effects of climatic change. Arved Fuchs, Brigitte Ellerbrock, Martin Varga and Brent Boddy will then return to Qaanaaq over the inland ice.

The Expedition

During this "Avanersuaq"-Expedition the traditional means of transportation of the Arctic Inuit will be used - the dog-sled. the Inughuit have lived for thousands of years in scattered communities about 1.000 kilometres south of the North Pole and have still managed to maintain their identity despite their remote and isolated way of life.

Through the effects of the changes in climate, however, the lives of the Inughuit are changing - Arved Fuchs will seek contact with the inhabitants. The expedition team will be accompanied north by hunters, who will assist them along the difficult route around the cape.

Climate Change

The effects of climatic change will be the main concern during the Avanersuaq Expedition. Which affects has global warming had on the areas between the 70th and 80th latitudes?
The Arctic ice is melting at a much faster pace than was originally assmued. In January of this year, it was so warm in the Arctic that the ice expansion sank to the forth lowest level for this month since satellite readings began in 1979.  Scientists are able to measure the extent of expansion with the help of satellites but not the thickness of the ice. For this reason, Fuchs is going to take readings on the thickness of the ice in north-western Greenland during the dog-sled expedition.
News reports at present take more or less little notice of the effects of global warming. Other topics fill the newspapers. In the public view, the topic of climate change has slipped into the background, although it is more a burning issue than ever. It is now the climate skeptics who voice the opinion and argue that man is not primarily responsible for the changes and that climatic change is caused by other factors than carbon dioxide expulsion. They therefore see no acute necessity for action. Scientists, on the other hand in the field of climate research, warn urgently of the worldwide dangers that could result should the greenhouse effect not be reduced.

It is especially in the arctic regions that the effects of climate change are most obvious; the ocean ice is melting much faster than was originally thought possible. Scientists assume that a rise in the sea level of more than one metre by the end of the century is not improbable.

The Avanersuaq region came into focus in 2010 through the Petermann Glacier, which is situated in this area on the north coast of Greenland. In this year, an ice island, four times the size of Manhattan, broke off the glacier. This 260 square kilometer sized ice sheet drifted then in the open waters. The glacier lost about a fourth of its length, which measured 70 kilometres till then.
The Petermann Glacier lies about 1.000 kilometres south of the North Pole and is one of the two largest in Greenland. Photos taken by the Welsh glaciologist Alun Hubbard (Aberystwyth University) show the extreme changes of the past four years. In the past two years almost all of the ice floor has dissolved; the rate of ice melting has exceeded predictions twofold.
The Humboldt Glacier is being affected in much the same way as the Petermann Glacier. It is the largest glacier on the island and ends in the Kane Basin, which lies between the Nares Strait in the Arctic Ocean and the Canadian Ellesmere Island. With a width of over 100 kilometres, it is teh widest in the northern hemisphere. Both glaciers together cover an area of 121.000 square kilometres.

Goal of the expedition

The goal is to mount the glaciers and examine eventual cracks. This area is very important for the movement of ice out of the Arctic Ocean. The occurence of so-called "Arches" is of great importance for scientists. These arches stop the flow of ice out of the Arctic ocean and have a great effect on the ice transportation. During the expedition, Fuchs and his team plan to observe these arches and follow the movement of the ice with the use of GPS.

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Saturday, 25. February 2012