A four-man team is making final preparations before rowing across the Arctic Ocean, an unprecedented expedition which will see them crossing 1,300 miles of frigid, ice-choked waters.
The route will take them from Inuvik, Canada to Provideniya, Russia. Setting off in July, the rowers estimate it will take a full 30 days to make the voyage, with at least two people rowing in rotation, two hours on, two hours off, 24 hours a day.
The aim of the expedition, according to the Arctic Row website, is to “delve into Arctic-related issues that affect us all: climate change, energy innovation, and environmental protection.” To achieve this goal, the team–comprised of Paul Ridley, Collin West, Neal Mueller and Scott Mortensen–have partnered with Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation and The University of Alaska Fairbanks to collect data and conduct research. In addition, footage of the journey will be made into a film, complete with interviews and commentary from climate change experts.
The research involves collecting samples of plankton, small organisms that live in the water column and provide a food source for Arctic Baleen whales. With these samples, the team hopes to help scientists figure out a long-standing scientific mystery: “how baleen whales locate dense swarms of ephemeral and patchy krill (zooplankton) prey at sea.”
The second goal is to “create a thorough zooplankton sample transect along the entire path that the team will travel.” These specimens, according to the website, will be added to “the public library of data on plankton and will be incorporated into the research of Dr. Russell Hopcroft of the Institute of Marine Science at The University of Alaska Fairbanks.”
Rowing at four knots, the team will be ideally situated to collect plankton and observe the changes in the Arctic as a result of climate change. Without the explorers and their unprecedented Arctic Row, it would have cost researchers $25,000 per day to charter a research vessel.
The Arctic Row expedition was even featured in The New York Times in March of last year.
Here’s a preview video to the expedition, where you can meet the crew, learn about their motivations, get a peak into their preparations, and check out their gear and craft.