[ASC-media] Arctic explorers make history

cribb@netspeed.com.au julian.cribb at work.netspeed.com.au
Tue Aug 1 03:57:32 CEST 2006

and highlights global warming



Rolex Laureate Lonnie Dupre and co-explorer Eric Larsen have become the
first explorers to reach the North Pole on foot in summer - in the process
confirming the dramatic rate at which the world's ice caps are melting .


After leaving the north of Ellesmere Island in the Canadian Arctic on 1 May
for the 769km-trek to the North Pole, the two explorers encountered Arctic
pack ice alternating with stretches of sea. Soft snow and melting ice
impeded their progress across the Arctic. Each carrying about 100kg of
equipment and supplies, Dupre and Larsen overcame these obstacles, crossing
ice and sea on two specially designed sleds that can be converted into sea


Dupre and Larsen had planned to continue their expedition as far as
Greenland - another 709km from the North Pole. However, since the ice
break-up was very advanced so early in the summer - which, according to
Dupre, shows the gravity of the danger to the region - and conditions were
bound to become worse in the two months required for the rest of the planned
journey, the two explorers decided to halt the expedition after reaching the
North Pole on July 1, for their own safety and that of possible rescue
teams. On 8 July, they were picked up by the crew of a passing Russian
ice-breaker. The two explorers, who live in Minnesota, in the United States,
returned home in mid-July.


Throughout the journey, Dupre sent reports via a satellite telephone to
describe the expedition and the state of the Arctic on his website,
www.oneworldexpedition.com. He drew attention to the threat posed to the
Arctic by global warming. "Scientists already predict that the Arctic will
be ice free in summer as early as 2030 - less than 25 years from now," he


The expedition was the second attempt by Lonnie Dupre, leader of the One
World Expedition, and Eric Larsen to reach the North Pole in summer. The
first - a project supported by the Rolex Award for Enterprise that Dupre won
in 2004 - aimed to cross the Arctic Ocean from Siberia to Canada crossing
the North Pole. It was interrupted on 3 June 2005, after 24 days of
struggling against the elements due to the early arrival of summer.


One of the region's most famous inhabitants, the polar bear, is directly
threatened by climatic warming. Specialists expect to see its population
decrease by at least 30 per cent by 2050 due to the reduction of the pack
ice that is its natural habitat. Dupre has made the polar bear the emblem of
his expedition. "As the ice disappears, so will the polar bear, unless we
all act now," he said. With his website and through "Project thin ice - Save
the polar bear", which is supported by Greenpeace, he has helped inspire
200,000 people to join the campaign to save the polar bear.


"Our unique perspective has enabled us to see firsthand how global warming
is affecting the Arctic," Dupre said on reaching the North Pole. "The
changes here are more severe than we could have possibly ever imagined. The
thinning Arctic ice sheet and potential extinction of the polar bear are not
isolated events; global warming knows no political or physical boundaries.
Droughts, sea-level rise, and increased frequency and severity of storms are
just a few of the many consequences of inaction."


He added: "While reaching the North Pole has been a major triumph and
unprecedented first, this expedition has always been more about exposing the
dangers of global warming and the plight of the polar bear than our physical


His determination to raise awareness of the risks to the Arctic was one of
the main reasons for his selection as a Laureate by the judges of the 2004
Rolex Awards for Enterprise.


More information:

Prof. Julian Cribb FTSE, Rolex Awards for Enterprise, 02 6242 8770

or 0418 639 245. Email: julian.cribb at work.netspeed.com.au

www.rolexawards.com <http://www.rolexawards.com/> 





Julian Cribb FTSE

Adjunct Professor, UTS

Principal, Julian Cribb & Associates

Editor, R&D Review, ScienceAlert

ph 02 6242 8770 or 0418 639 245

julian.cribb at work.netspeed.com.au



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