The Meaning of Ice

Last night I went to a fascinating lecture at The British Museum on ‘The Meaning of Ice: people and sea ice in three arctic communities’. The speaker was Dr Shari Fox Gearheard of the National Snow and Ice Data Centre. Shari took the audience through what the arctic ice means to three communities who live on the ice; Inuit from Canada, Iñupiat from Alaska and Inughuit from Northern Greenland.

It was both refreshing and grounding to hear stories from the ice – tales from those who have the sea ice as their home, their food source, their freedom and their way of life.

Shari took the audience through photos and stories of those who live on the ice; she, herself has been living with Inuit for 20 years and has become part of the community in Clyde River, Nunavut.

Dog sledding, hunting, clothing, family bonds, culture and stories from the sea, such as Sedna the sea goddess were shared.

It was truly inspiring and showed how important the Arctic is for so many. The communities who live there are at risk from seismic testing, offshore oil development and climate change.  We must remember to be gentle with our planet, and respectful, for sometimes we forgot those who we cannot see. The science behind the Ice Warrior expedition is extremely important but I also think showing the culture and the way of life for those who rely on the ice is equally as important.

If you are looking for some Arctic culture, I’d recommend the book.


Finding the pole of inaccessibility.

Finding The Pole Of Inaccessibility is a short paper by Gareth Rees, Robert Headland, Ted Scambos and Terry Haran on defining and locating the 4th pole. I cannot wait to walk towards it in February 2015.

The authors are from the Scott Polar Research Institute and National Snow and Ice Data Center, two of our partners in our quest for the pole.

Making time for science

Arctic sea ice extent on 12 September 2012 c/o NSIDC

I am always rushing around doing ‘things’; training, eating, working, replying to emails, catching up with people, sorting out the garden, cleaning the house, writing about the expedition, securing funding but there is one thing that I feel has been missing for a while on this blog.

The missing element is something that perhaps is so important to the expedition that I don’t really think about it. It’s ingrained in my head. It’s the science.

It’s easy to write about pulling tyres as its fun, but the science behind this trip is technical, and not so easy to write about.

Today, I am making time for science.

The basics

We’ve lost 40% of Arctic sea ice in the last 40 years, We’ve more melt days, less freeze days, More open water absorbing the sun’s radiation, Heating the planet.

The expedition

We are working with some fantastic scientific partners to monitor the state of the Arctic Ocean, on a transect never travelled before. Our 800 mile journey will involve team members, under the guidance of Bjorn Erlingsson, researcher at the Icelandic Meteorological Office to record:

  • Ice properties e.g. ice-type ridging/rafting stage, ice-free-board, ice-type thickness
  • Snow thickness, snow density and snow crystal properties
  • Ice mechanics, growth of winter ice (rafted/ridged vs. thermodynamic), crossover thickness and block thickness in ridges and cohesion of ice blocks.

This data will be fed into the NASA funded National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) scientists, The Met Office, The Scott Polar Institute, The Norwegian Polar Institute and the Russian Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute to name a few. All of the data collected will be ‘open source’ so that anyone can use it. We are part of a huge citizen science project.

The Royal Society

I went to a conference back in September at The Royal Society where ‘Arctic sea ice reduction: the evidence, models and global impacts’ was the topic of the day. Quite a topic for someone who is getting to grips with ice science.  It was a worthwhile event with a range of speakers from the National Oceanography Centre to the National Snow and Ice Data Centre to the Universities of Reading and Cambridge. I learnt a lot and came out feeling proud to play a part to help decipher what is happening in the Arctic.

A few key points re the state of the Arctic:

  • It has been noted that multi-year ice in the Arctic is on the decrease. This older ice helps to stabilise the new ice which forms. With this on the decrease, the ice is more susceptible to change from a warming climate.
  • The melt season in the Arctic is changing. The melt season begins earlier and has a later freeze point in the autumn. This gives rise to a longer melt season and an ability to melt more of the ice.
  • Satellite evidence and models show a decline in multi-year ice from 1999-2014. QuickSCAT and ASCAT scan the region every 3 days. In the past 15 years, the ice has decreased in the Arctic by 2 million square kilometres – 30% of the Arctic Ocean!
  • Satellite data cannot always differentiate between snow and ice, so our measurements on the ice will help ground-truth satellite imagery for the region.
  • Peter Wadhams of the University of Cambridge spoke about the Arctic Death Spiral and its impact on the planet. Quite scary!
  • Factors which influence the extent of sea ice include dynamic influences i.e. wind force, divergence/convergence; thermodynamic influence i.e. surface winds, weather; cloud cover; arctic oscillation and changes in ice albedo (reflection).


I am enjoying learning about the science and how we continue to monitor the Arctic for changes. It’s a new world to me, but having an ongoing dialogue with Bjorn is helping me get to grips with how important our expedition is.  Maybe I’ll have a new career in ice science one day.

Polar Puzzler, 2 December, The Dean Swift


To raise funds for the expedition I am arranging a polar puzzler aka pub quiz on Tuesday 2 December. The quiz will be held in The Dean Swift, SE1 and can accommodate 9 teams of 5 people.  The wonderful team at The Dean Swift are offering the winning prize.

Arctic Andy and I will be quiz masters and we will hopefully put on a good show. There will be a polar round ….  ʕ•͡ᴥ•ʔ

We are also arranging a raffle with generous donations from The Stress Exchange, Bootcamp SE16, James O Jenkins and Ice Warrior to name a few.

Places are still available if you want to get involved.

Contact me for further information via

Southwark News

Yesterday I had an article in the Southwark News.  It was written by Elllie Ross and explores why I am taking part in this expedition, training and how people can help me get to the start line in February.

I was out dragging my tyres at 6am this morning and had to stop for 10 minutes as a local dog walker was chatting to me about the article. It certainly made my hard training session easier.


This weekend I was consumed by training …. And tyres.

Friday night I did my tyre drills at Stave Hill. Pulling Beast 1 and Beast 2 along was tough work; sprinting with two tyres attached, pulling me backwards was nearly causing me to grunt. I am ok at the short distance using explosive energy, but sprinting with two tyres attached over a long distance was hurting … a lot! Sprints were followed by drags, tricep dips, back raises, press ups and ice skaters. After 1 hour and 20 minutes I dragged the tyres home.

Saturday morning I pulled my trusty tyres 1.7 miles in 40 minutes with Steph of Bootcamp SE16. “Lisa, you are doing a 25 minutes mile” sent shivers through me. Usually, when running I’m doing between 7 and 8 minute miles. I did realise that I need to start pulling the tyres to work … I just need to find a suitable storage location, as I’m pretty sure facilities would ban me from the building if I pulled two tyres across their nice clean floor every day.

Saturday afternoon, I did kettle bells …

Sunday, I went to Oxford with the team for a visit to The Athletes Centre. They put us through our paces to see what we need to work on. Hip flexor, core strength and glutes are my priority. I managed to push 110kg through the use of a prowler, which I was pleased with. I also made an attempt to flip a tyre. It was no ordinary tyre, it was over 200kg. All the guys managed it … the females of the team did not, but we enjoyed trying!