A MAJOR polar expedition by Coventry-based explorer Mark Wood has become a race against time after his team has been forced to revise its route at the 11th hour.
The unforeseen change means the start date for the North Pole 16 expedition has now had to be pushed back by a month.
Set to be the last expedition of its kind, Wood was due to embark on his 600 mile journey from the Russian Arctic Coast to the geographic North Pole on Saturday (February 20) with the aim of exposing the true extent of climate change in the Arctic.
However just days before Wood and his two serving soldier teammates were due to set off, it was revealed that the Arctic sea ice levels had hit a record low.
Even Government climate change advisor, Dr Stephen Harrison, had warned how dangerous Wood’s imperative expedition would be.
Now it’s emerged that Wood’s team has had to drastically revise its route in order to keep the £350,000 mission alive.
The team now plans to travel 470 miles from the geographic North Pole across the Arctic to the Canadian Arctic Coast with a revised date of Wednesday (March 23).
Mark Tweddle, the polar expedition’s main sponsor with Jupiter Marketing, said: “This expedition has been described as ‘A Race Against Time’ – and this has never been so true.
“It’s clear that climate change is already having an effect in the Arctic and this is one key reason why the decision has been taken to change the route at the 11th hour.
“North Pole 16 remains an extremely important expedition.”
The expedition’s patron – British explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes – has already described the expedition as the “toughest journey on the planet” due to the “unforgiving terrain”.
The team will face temperatures of up to minus 60 and the threat of encountering Polar bears.
Mark Wood said: “My team and I will be seizing the opportunity that we are left with to capture our moment on ice.
“The change in world climate has dictated the expedition we are allowed to do without risking the lives of others.”
Last month the team was hit with the blow that its other expedition patron, Lt Col Henry Worsley, had died while trying to cross Antarctica solo.
Visit www.facebook.com/jupitermarketinltd/ to keep up to date with the latest information on the expedition.