By the Catlin Arctic Survey Explorer Team
Today Ann had her first unscheduled dip in the Arctic Ocean. With the amount of thin ice that the Explorer Team have been crossing over the past few days it was inevitable that one of them was going to get wet sooner or later. Since Ann is the lightest of the three she normally takes the lead when crossing thin ice but that also means she is constantly in the ‘Guinea Pig’ role. She managed to avoid total immersion but an arm and leg went through the ice into the water below. Ann was able to get herself to some firmer ice and once there simply had a roll around in the snow to help absorb any excess moisture.
If the situation had been more serious and Ann had become totally wet through then there are a number of procedures that can be taken to mitigate the risks to hypothermia and frostbite. If the situation is serious – a very cold day with strong winds and clothing is wet through, then first thing to do is get the tent up, get the person into some dry clothes, into the sleeping bag system and give them hot food and drink.
The most likely items of clothing to get wet are boots and gloves. Each of the three team members carry spare gloves, outer mittens and spare insulated boot liners. If these got wet the first thing to do is get the replacement dry set out from the sledge and get them on. If there’s a wind then it could be seconds before the effects of frost damage to the extremities occur.
The incident comes following a week of incredible momentum as the team crossed 87°N on Wednesday. Managing a superhuman 11km yesterday, the team is happily on target for reaching the pole before the end of the expedition.
The Ice Base have been continuing their scientific research happily without much incident. They’ve even found the time to take up a bit of yoga as well as build their first ice creation, an amazing Inuit Inuksuk.
The Catlin Arctic Survey 2010 is focused on what is widely considered to be the ‘other’ carbon problem beyond climate change – that of ocean change, researching how greenhouse gases could affect the marine life of the Arctic ocean. Laura Edwards, a researcher from Bangor University in Wales, and Rod Macrae, Head of Communications at Geo Mission, are blogging for WWF throughout the Survey from the Catlin Arctic Survey Ice Base in Nunavut, northern Canada – please come back regularly for their updates.