Artists-Scientists Join Forces in Arctic Climate Expedition

This week, a 100-year old Dutch schooner packed with artists and oceanographic researchers (and a handful of media reps, including yours truly) will set sail from the island of Spitsbergen (roughly 500 miles north of Norway) to traverse the 78th parallel and then down the coast of eastern Greenland. Besides the unique collection of crew members, this voyage is noteworthy for another, very significant reason: this route has never before been navigable, having been frozen for ages. (And we're talking geological ages.)

The expedition is part of the Cape Farewell program, started by London-based artist and sailor David Buckland, with a mission to raise awareness about climate change by sailing to the front lines of the issue, and giving artists full access to the advanced--and potentially quite important--research being conducted there. (We've covered past Cape Farewell expeditions in 2005 and 2006.) The basic idea is that artists, as society's most creative communicators, are able to present the issue to the public in ways much more engaging than scientific papers. So for the next two and a half weeks, I'll be sailing with this merry band of oceanographers and artists, which includes a research team from the British National Oceanographic Centre at Southampton lead by Dr. Simon Boxall, acclaimed novelist Vikram Seth, California-based artist Amy Balkin, British comedian Marcus Brigstocke, and a whole boatload of other talented folks.

We'll be sending along live updates (when the data satellites allow) in the form of blog entries, videos, and even some live Q&As; through Cape Farewell's website, or by subscription to the RSS feed. As the research yields results, and the artists create, I'll do my best to update the TH community directly with some highlights.

Tags: Arctic | Greenland