In 1988 Ian Frearson set up the Arctic Research Group with four core members chosen from those having taken part in previous trips to Svalbard and Alaska. Since then the Group has taken part in eight ARG expeditions and individual members in over twenty, including two International E.U funded research expeditions. In total twenty-three people have undertaken some one hundred and sixty man-weeks (over three years) of research with the Group. In addition to this, some members have spent some fifty weeks, either, with other research groups or organisations or, working independently in the Arctic. The Group has visited nine areas of Spitsbergen during the past twenty five years.
The Group has gained the reputation of being one of the most respected private expedition groups currently operating in the UK. Three members are professors at various Institutions, Nine members hold a PhD, five more have MSc’s and six have BSc (Hons). Several of these academic achievements have stemmed from or include research work undertaken on ARG expeditions. Members combine their high academic qualifications with many field skills, involving the more obvious ones of mountaineering and camping in severe conditions.
The Group regularly includes both new members and young scientists in the research teams so that the work may continue to be varied. This also helps expeditions to remain interesting and more viable as well as encouraging the long-standing tradition of British research in the Arctic. Funding for the trips is all raised within the Group by sponsorship, grants and by personal contribution. ARG expeditions to date are valued at over £470,000, not counting the EU funded international research project valued at over £1m. Major companies, both national and international have sponsored the Group by manufacturing and donating or loaning specialist equipment for use on project work.
In June 2016 the Group was entered onto the Register of Charities (Regsitered Charity No 1167722) and it is hoped that this will benefit the Groups continued policy of introducing new young scientists to the High Arctic and to the world of field research in these challenging areas and conditions. Anyone wishing to help the Group achieve this is encouraged to send donations direct to the Group’s bank, Barclays Bank, Sort Code, 206366, account No. 93915891 and to please complete a gift Aid form, available on line as part of the Prospectus for the forthcoming expedition, or from [email protected]
In 1990 the Group won the Rolex Award through the Royal Geographical Society for small expeditions. Following this, a world first system for the monitoring of glacier ice movement (devised and developed by members) gained EU funding and has been used by several international expeditions. Collaborating parties on projects have included Scott Polar Research Institute Cambridge, Norsk Polarinstitutt, the Universities of Manchester, Liverpool, Bristol and Oxford, Imperial College and the University of Oslo. A significant number of research papers have been published by members on a variety of topics from glaciology to pollution. Long-term studies by the Group on polluted sites on Spitsbergen have recently drawn substantial interest after being presented as a poster at an international conference.
Several companies, both regional and International, have chosen the Group to take their brand of new innovative equipment for field assessment. In this way both sides benefit and a more useful product may be offered on the open market. The Group promotes environmentally friendly options on research, with new techniques being tried and revolutionary ideas proposed for development. In this way both the public and private sector stand to benefit from the research carried out. In cases where poor management or continued pollution of areas is recorded the problem is pointed out to the responsible authorities. In these situations it is hoped that restitution alternatives may eventually be suggested.
On each trip some time is set aside for members to enjoy and appreciate the areas visited. Mountains are climbed, regions explored, flora, fauna and topography photographed. Over 30,000 photographs, both on transparency and more recently in electronic format, are held in the Group’s photographic library. These cover every aspect of the Group’s activities.