Expedition count down

With just one day to go, the excitement of heading North is palpable, not only for expedition members, but also Group Leader, families and friends.

SAS powering us there

With a few loose ends still to tie up, bags and barrels are distributed and the scientific projects ahead have been finalised. Plans set, travel and communications arrangements are made and those last days where the adrenalin takes over has arrived.

We cannot stress too highly how incredibly grateful we are to all of the many supporters of ARG whether through cash donations, discounts, donated or loaned equipment, or help in any other way. Without you, our supporters, we would not be going and the science we are about to undertake would not be possible. Thank you.

80 Degrees North means the field team will be completely out of normal communication so just a single daily text by satellite phone back to our home agent and a few planned media broadcasts on BBC Radio will be all there is to keep everyone informed on how the expedition is progressing.

Reports on our work, findings and experiences will commence as soon as we return so look out for some exciting news.

Expedition receives approval

The Sysselmann and the Svalbard authorities have given final approval for the planned research of the 2019 ARG Expedition. The programme of research includes five main activities which are studies on plastic pollution, climate change, interstellar geology, terrestrial geology and remote videography by drone.

Expedition plans approved

While expecting the approval, the expedition members have been putting significant efforts and much of their spare time into applications for grants and making approaches to organisations and businesses, to secure the necessary income to fund the 2019 expedition.

“Receiving the go ahead from the Sysselmann is brilliant news” commented ARG group leader Ian Frearson “The hard miles have to be put in now to secure the funding and make the necessary preparations for the expedition”.

Training weekend set for early March

Members of the 2019 expedition will be out in the Peak District National Park putting themselves and their equipment through its paces during a training session set for early March. Whilst fundraising is key to achieving the maximum return out of the expedition research, the team working together on fitness and Arctic capabilities, as well as developing familiarity with the technical equipment that they will be using, is also essential. The session will include in particular, practice flying of the drone to explore the techniques required to deliver the maximum from the extended research scope the drone is expected to help realise.

2019 Expedition Flight Reservations Made

Taking advantage of booking ahead to secure the best value flights, the ARG has made reservations for the seven strong expedition team that will head to Svalbard in late July and return to the UK in August. Whilst the full funding for the expedition is yet to be realised, the ARG is confident of their ability to secure the necessary resources to fulfil the expedition objectives and therefore took the decision at a recent meeting to proceed with making the flight reservations. There is always a significance to the point at which funds begin to be committed to an expedition and this is being celebrated by the team who are excitedly looking forward to tackling their research work in the Arctic in Summer 2019.

Expedition take off is booked

Full steam ahead on fundraising

At the recent meetings of the ARG, members have been focussing on the task of fundraising through making grant applications and targeting key organisations, corporations and high net worth individuals.  The task being to secure funding for the ongoing activities of the ARG, specifically seeking to secure sufficient funds for the expedition later this year.  With a target budget of £50,000 the ARG would have sufficient funds not only for the 2019 expedition, we would also be able to purchase additional equipment that would be available for use for this and future expeditions and allow the delivery of more sophisticated remote research.  There has been some initial success with grants being awarded and we are hopeful of further good news in the coming weeks. If you’re reading this and can offer support, then please use the donation button or contact us to let us know how you can help.

Form filling for funds

2019 Expedition members named

At last the final group that will form the 2019 Expedition to Bockfjord North Spitsbergen has been named.

Leading the Expedition will be Dr Steve Staley, a founder member and veteran of several ARG expeditions.  His scientific role will be looking at the geological elements surrounding the warm springs that are to be visited and the supervising of sampling.  It is also planned to look for ancient fossilised fish remains and log all findings with a view to recording locations and attitudes within the rocks.  Steve will be heading the whole team when they are locating, recording, collecting and disposing of beach pollution, particularly plastic, that is now an unsightly and dangerous feature of Arctic shores.  This work is being undertaken in partnership with two other international organisations and data and results will be shared to provide maximum input to the understanding of this global problem.

Professor Graeme Shaw, another veteran of the ARG will be undertaking research into the vascular plant species present and their species distribution around and remote from the springs, as well as investigating the climate change balance of early colonisation of recently exposed ground due to glacial ice retreat.

Mike Haynes, founder member and a member of several previous ARG expeditions is to explore the use of drones in increasing the data collection possibilities for Arctic research.  This will allow less physical damage to be caused to the delicate Arctic environment by exploration physical visits for data collection.

Chris Searston, another ARG previous expedition member and very experienced Svalbard traveller will be undertaking a search for meteorites at suitable locations where glacial ice retreat provides the best opportunities for success.

Dan Clarke rejoins the Group following his previous trip as Joint Expedition Leader in 1996 as logistical planner and Safety Officer.  He will also be running the day to day operations of the pollution programme.  Dan is in charge of the First Aid provision.

Two first time expeditioners join the make up the full compliment.  Henry Staley, a fourth year medical student in Dentistry joins in a general assistant category and to undertake some human physiological experiments on the rest of the team.

William Shaw, a second year student of Computer Science completes the seven man team and brings his expertise in computing to help log and record the whole of the research information in anticipation of the papers and reports that will be generated.