EXPLORER Mark Wood has landed safely on the frozen arctic ocean as his mission to travel along fragile ice to the North Pole in a bid to raise awareness of climate change finally got underway this week.
The Coventry-born explorer, along with two serving soldiers, Paul Vicary and Mark Langridge, have set off on a dangerous 20-day expedition across one of the most unforgiving areas of the planet in what could be the last mission of its kind by a British team.
All three men are putting their lives on the line as they travel 120 nautical miles to reach the most northern point on the Earth in a bid to raise awareness of the effects of climate change.
A series of climate change challenges had threatened to derail the mission which forced the team to change its planned route following weeks of delays
But after a series of setbacks, Mark and his team are now beginning their journey from a drop off points two degrees from the North Pole.
In his first message home, Mark said: “We are really pleased to have arrived on an Arctic Ocean that is frozen and after so many delays.
“We’re all in good spirits and we’re really pleased to be here. We’ve been in the lap of everybody else’s hands over the last few weeks and now it’s down to us to go out.
“Our main aim here is to document what the state of the ocean is. From our first glimpse of it it looks like we’ve landed on quite a good day I’d say.
“We want to thank everyone back at home for supporting us so far, including Jupiter Marketing, without whom this Race Against Time expedition would not have been possible.”
Mark and his team originally planned to ski for 60 days from the Russian Arctic Coast to the North Pole, but they were forced to change the route and timeframe to 35 days to travel from the Pole to the Canadian Arctic Coast.
This was because the Arctic sea ice levels hit a record low in January and February proving to be the hottest month in recorded history.
After a week’s training on the Norwegian island of Svalbard, more bad news followed when the runway at Barneo Ice Station in Norway, which is where the team were going to fly out from, cracked and another had to be built.
Now they have a 20-day window on the ice to reach the North Pole before the deadline date of May 5 to be safely extracted.
Main sponsor, Mark Tweddle, who runs fruit import and export business Jupiter Marketing in Shropshire, confirmed that he had heard from the team just before they started their mission on the ice.
He added: “Mark Wood has been in touch to confirm that the ocean is frozen, and that the team is in good spirits and is determined to make the most of their now reduced time on the ice with which to document the impact of global warming
“But the team has already reported encountering difficult terrain for what people are used to seeing in Antarctica, including lots of massive blocks of ice pushed up by pressure.
“With just 20 days on the ice to achieve its goal of documenting climate change it remains hopeful. However this vast change in conditions makes everything all the more dangerous.
“The first day saw the team face severe temperatures knocking -30 but it managed to complete 9 nautical miles.
“The temperature has now dropped to around -15, and if the terrain does not get worse it hopes to travel eight hours a day and aims to reach the North Pole in two weeks’ time.”
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