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130 Drifting North

26 . 04 . 2021


Watch this on video | Buy us a coffee: Chris / Henry

POLAR NEWSREEL Our long-time friend and most favourite of all icebergs, A-68A, is gone. Russia starts its work on a fiber optic cable to connect the Asian part of the Russian Arctic. And in Greenland a new government has taken over with the youngest prime minister in the country’s history.

DRIFTING NORTH A largely unknown episode of polar research tried to cast some light onto scientific observations in the Central Arctic Basin, the first since Fridtjof Nansen’s famous Fram Expedition from 1893-96. Based on observation from the First Soviet High-Latitude Expedition onboard the icebreaking steamer Sadko, the Soviet Union deployed four researchers under Expedition Leader Ivan Papanin onto the Arctic sea ice close to the North Pole. The drift ice station North Pole-1 continued for 274 days, during which the station travelled more than 2600 km. The success but also the observations of this expedition led to a series of 31 drift ice expeditions where 88 polar crews occupied the ice floes for a total of 29,726 drift days, while drifting a distance of 169,654 km. The research program of the "North Pole" drifting stations is unequalled in the 20th century by duration, variety of observational material, importance of scientific discoveries, and number of resolved problems. After the end of the Soviet Union, Russia has picked up the programme in spring 2003 but since the mid-2000s it became more and more difficult due to global warming to find a suitable ice floe to station camp on and several stations had to be evacuated prematurely because of unexpectedly fast thawing of the ice. In December 2020 the ice-resistant self-propelled research platform Severnyy Polyus (eng. North Pole) has been launched. The most unusually egg-shaped floating platform is supposed to replace the previous ice-based drift expeditions and intended for multi-year drifting deployments in very high latitudes.

This is an episode of the Curiously Polar podcast

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