Ranulph Fiennes heads to Antarctic to explore effects of climate change

By RTCC Staff 

British explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes is to lead an expedition in March 2013 to track changes in mass of the polar ice caps.

Dubbed ‘the last great polar challenge’, his team will travel nearly 4,000 kilometres, mostly in complete darkness and in temperatures as low as -90°C.

The organisers say the expedition aims to make a “decisive contribution to our understanding of the effect of climate change upon the poles” by taking landmass readings from the surface of Antarctica throughout the journey.

These results will help validate the data of the European Space Agency’s CryoSat-2, which tracks changes in the mass of the polar ice caps.

Year round calibration on the ground is the only way to validate the satellite data. The readings taken by the team will be the first taken in the Antarctic winter.

The team aim to reaffirm the findings of the European Space Agency's CyroSat-2 and get a better understanding of the effects of climate change on Antarctica

“This will be my greatest challenge to date,” said Sir Ranulph. “We will stretch the limits of human endurance.

“It is a unique opportunity to carry out a number of scientific tasks in the extreme polar environment, which will make a significant contribution to our understanding of the true effects of global warming on the Antarctic continent.”

The Antarctic expedition will be the 68-year-old’s latest record attempt. In the past he has travelled from pole to pole and climbed Everest – and shows no sign of slowing down despite undergoing a double heart bypass operation nine years ago.

Arctic melt

There have been increasing reports of warming conditions at the North and South Poles.

Today the Guardian have reported that one of the world’s leading ice experts has predicted the final collapse of Arctic sea ice in summer months within four years.

Recent reports from the Antarctic suggest that temperatures are unusually high but are not abnormal. According to the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), ice equivalent to 1,000 years of British domestic water consumption has been lost over the past half century.

Ice loss in the Antarctic is alarming because it will affect sea levels. Some experts believe climate change could lead to a rise of almost two metres.

The team are scheduled to depart on 21 March 2013. They also hope to raise $10 million for Seeing is Believing – a global initiative to treat avoidable blindness in developing countries.

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