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.
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.
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.
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.