Plummeting Arctic ice allows record-setting sail

  • 15/09/2016

A British expedition is about to set a new record for an expedition, but it's not really cause for celebration.

They've managed to sail anti-clockwise around the North Pole in a single summer season and it was only possible because of the melting of the arctic ice.

The Arctic sea ice has now reached its second-lowest ever extent and the journey is proof of the devastating effects of climate change. 

"The whole thing was to make people aware of the climate and what's happening up in the high Arctic," says British explorer David Hempleman-Adams.

"But I never realised how extreme the conditions have been, in the sense of no ice whatsoever."

Mr Hempleman-Adams has been coming here for more than three decades. Over that time an expanse of ice the size of Texas has disappeared from the Arctic. 

Scientists measuring the problem have been surprised by the dramatic speed of shrinkage and thinning. 

"Certainly the pace of decline right now in the Arctic sea ice is happening much faster than a lot of the models have forecasted would happen," says Professor Julienne Stroeve.

"It is happening a lot faster, and the 10 lowest extents [of sea ice] have happened in the last 10 years.

"It's not totally unexpected given what we know how about how thin the ice has become, so you're more likely to have less ice."

Ben Edwards, who's 14, is one of the crew of six on board and is determined to spread the message about the effects of climate change to a younger audience. 

He has little time to waste - scientists predict that the Arctic region could have its first ice-free summer by 2040.

ITV News