Safe & Successful Return

All seven members of the 2019 expedition have returned safe, successful and well from Bockfjord. Welcomed back into Manchester Airport by ARG Group Leader and Home Agent, Ian Frearson, the team are really pleased with how things went and their various experiences.

Bockford 2019

With research data, imagery and samples collected, another phase of work begins so that the efforts and contributions of members, sponsors, supporters and everyone involved are realised in delivery of the outputs from the expedition.
Firstly a short time to be back with family & friends and for some recovery from the exertions of the trip and the travelling. All too soon several of the team will be back at work and dealing with the surge of unread emails and messages having been out of WiFi range for the period of the trip.

Thankfully the precautions the team took to protect from bear attack were only put to theoretical test when trip wires were either deliberately or accidentally triggered by themselves. There were no sightings of polar bear in Bockfjord and yet there was another expedition not so far away that had tents and gear destroyed although gratefully, nobody was hurt in the incident.

After the initial break work will begin in earnest to sort and classify samples, undertake analyses, edit and put together film and photographs so that the all important element of reports may begin.

Look out for more information coming to this site and instructions on how to access these reports soon.

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.

Gruelling Days

Why does the clock go so quickly when we are enjoying ourselves?

If only we could accomplish the tiring gruelling days of the mundane as easily quickly and enjoyably as those spent in the field, then packing vital equipment food and supplies would be a pleasure. Sadly these jobs do have to be done and the success of a trip frequently depends on the dedication and hard work put in by all the team members on the tedium of the organising.

Everyone helping out

Last Sunday saw the whole Team plus the Group Leader (who will be acting as Home Agent) sorting, stripping away all non essential packaging and filling our now familiar plastic barrels with the food tools and equipment on which the whole Team will rely whilst in the field, starting in two weeks time.

This time it was a lesson in the economical and the planned allowance of seven sixty litre barrels was soon reached then just as easily overtaken.

We are now in the situation of having to book more and more additional barrels onto our freight. How grateful we are to SAS who have accommodated our wishes without turning a hair.

Base Camp Food – order placed

A Derbyshire business, Base Camp Food, located in Melbourne, is to supply the mainstay of the sustenance for the 2019 expedition. Dehydrated rations are essential to help keep total carrying weights to a minimum and will also be supplemented with other lightweight foods – and of course the traditional expedition simnel cake.

Base Camp Food provided a selection of options for the members to trial before the order was placed.

“The taste and texture of these rehydrated main meals are amazing and we’re really pleased with the selection that Base Camp Food has provided for us” commented Chris Searston, “The speed of preparation is essential to help with getting food into us after our days’ work. We won’t have time for messing around and these ration packs will help with that.”

More support received

The generosity of individual supporters for the ARG is amazing. Using online fundraising through our social media networks we have raised much needed funds towards the cost of the expedition. Thank you to all those who have been kind enough to donate. One generous supporter commented “I’m not able to go and do the sort of things you will be doing for the good of the planet and my donation is my way of being involved with you and doing my bit vicariously”.

We have also been generously loaned key pieces of kit that will help us to achieve our goals and do it safely. Two separate sources have supplied us; one with a hand held EPIRB and the other a bank of VHF marine radios. We’re also grateful that we will have a satellite telephone with us to be able to communicate with the media and our home agent, Ian Frearson.

With these essential tools we will be able to communicate effectively with each other and should the situation arise, where we need outside assistance to come to our help, then we have the emergency communication that links through the satellites back to the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency to send support.

Wilderness First Aid Training

Preparations for the remoteness of the next expedition location includes specialist training in first aid on a course that has been arranged for the weekend of 1st & 2nd June in Derbyshire.

The course is being provided exclusively tailored to ensure that the team members all have the capability of handling injury situations with calmness and knowledge, that will maximise the opportunity for survival until more sophisticated medical treatment can be accessed.

Training will include dealing with scenarios such as bear attack and firearm injuries, as well as cold water immersion and frostbite.  There are still severe implications for any ‘normal’ injuries such as fractures and deep cuts when at significant distance and time away from professional medical assistance and resources.

International Research Collaboration

ARG has been approached regarding a collaboration with Igor Tolstikhin, Senior Scientist at the Geological Institute, Kola Scientific Centre, Russian Academy of Sciences.  Igor is a celebrated international geochemist and recipient of the EAG Urey Award in 2013.  Igor is also co-Author of the publication ‘The Evolution of Matter: from the Big Bang to the Present Day’.

Igor has asked the ARG to collect additional geochemical samples on our 2019 expedition in conjunction with our own project.  The subsequent analyses carried out by Igor and his research team would be shared with us so that a collective report can be produced and possibly a paper written for submission for publication.

“This is an excellent opportunity and a privilege for ARG to be asked to collaborate in this way” commented Expedition Leader Dr. Stephen Staley, he continued “This is the scientific community working and communicating well together thanks to Research in Svalbard where Igor found our project”.

International collaboration is essential in tackling climate change

Up, up and away

Drone practice – first flight
All images in this post ©William Shaw

With perfect weather and an ideal location the deferred drone training and evaluation at last took place on one of the moors of the Derbyshire Peak District National Park. Expedition members Prof. Graeme (George) Shaw, William Shaw and Mike Haynes took the Mavic Pro drone out onto the moors and found a secluded spot from which to conduct practice flights.

“It was amazing how instantly we were able to operate the drone, the technology is fantastic” commented George. The practice flights soon established that the drone gave the opportunity to significantly increase the range of the research studies and save on the amount of time taken to cover the ground.

“I expect that the images and video we will be able to capture in the Arctic with the Mavic Pro, will deliver an extra dimension to our record of the expedition” noted William as he easily flew the drone for the first time.

Planning each flight in detail will be essential to maximise the imagery that can be captured within the limitations of the drone battery life. Recharging the batteries will also need planning into the expedition schedule.

Smiles all round

Henry Staley on his first Arctic expedition:

“I feel very lucky to be invited on this expedition to Svalbard. This amazing opportunity will be a challenging but rewarding experience and hopefully a gateway to further expeditions around the world. I am particularly excited to have the chance to become involved in research regarding plastic pollution. Hopefully this will improve our understanding of the issue and help to affect a change in our daily use of plastic”.

As medical officer, Henry will be providing medical support to the team. “Expedition medicine is of huge interest to me and I am thrilled to have been given this position.  I will also be conducting research into the changes in oral hygiene habits on an expedition, and this will be a relevant piece of research for my studies as a dental student”. 


Solid Support

Without a firm foundation the best of plans will almost certainly struggle and most will fail. It is not surprising that the smallest of elements may prove to be most important so it is with great delight that the Tarpaulins Direct company have agreed to help us with a much needed tarpaulin sheet for our Base Camp tent.

Click on the image

A spokesperson today agreed the donation that will provide a sound and comfortable base on the frozen tundra and on which the members will sleep.

Rachel McGuigan, Customer Service Manager said ” We’re happy to help. Can you just confirm exactly what size you need? We have something like a 5m x 5m, would that suffice? “