After Averting Disaster, the Cape Farewell Expedition Grinds On


Image courtesy of Cape Farewell.
This guest post was written by David Buckland, resident artist and the director of Cape Farewell, as part of the Cape Farewell project.

After the excitement of ice entrapment, polar bears, and nullified rescue our Captain has, under Spitsbergan instructions, been more cautious with regard to ice and weather. We have been dancing with ice maps, weather patterns and plain strong head winds. Four times we have tried to go south down the Hinlopanstretet and twice we had to return because of ice cover and twice because of force six to seven headwinds with a boat speed of one knot. This morning's attempt met again with an impossible situation and we have had to accept that a circumnavigation is not possible within our available time slot. Tonight we are in a lagoon, already iced over and tomorrow we head for the Monacobreen Glacier. The science program advanced much more quickly than expected, Deborah is content with her Pteropods as they perform in progressively acidic sea water—the Noorderlicht foredeck is now her mobile lab and Simon continues to probe the oceans which will cumulate in a 150 km offshore sail to measure the Norwegian Current to a depth of 200m.


Image courtesy of Cape Farewell.

Each night there is a presentation by one of the artists or scientist, which provides inspiration and food for rich dialogue and challenge. Days will now be taken up with filming, constructing art projects, performances and it is a relief not to be battling the elements in such a ferocious campaign.

Facing nature in this high altitude is humbling but it is also equally troubling to witness how the six billion people south of us can have such a dramatic impact on the wild place and at such a scale. Pure human activity is causing the northern ice cap to melt, thousands of square miles of it, and any thoughts that we could construct geo-engineering projects on such a scale is pure fantasy. And a wonton act of denial.

In a beautiful lagoon where we are currently anchored is a yacht already preparing to over-winter. On board are a German scientist and his partner and dog with the winter task of measuring the carbon dioxide uptake in snowfall. That is impressive dedication and we have invited them to dinner to explain more.

Our onboard iridium satellite communication system is working like a dream and allows us to keep up our worldwide communication. We are also receiving very welcome texts to our isolated home, the Noorderlicht.

Alex, Kenvika was again magical and Fiona Shaw performed via a recording, to a silent audience, a brilliant rendition of the Waste Land in the main hut while we huddled in the [cold] sauna out of sound. Very appropriate and eerie, witnessed only by our cameras.

Follow the Cape Farewell voyage on the 2010 expedition blog.
Read more from Cape Farewell:
Reconciling Arctic Expectations with Modern Realities
DJ Spooky Tells the Political Tale of Two Poles
DJ Spooky at the Ends of the Earth

Tags: Arctic | Global Climate Change | Oceans

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