Reaching the North Pole in a sailboat? Pen Hadow got to be kidding!

British explorer Pen Hadow and his crew have set sail from Alaska, in an attempt to become the first people ever to sail to the North Pole.

“With Arctic ice melting at an unprecedented rate, previously inaccessible waters are opening up, creating the potential for their planned 5,500 km (3,500 mile) journey for the first time in human history.”

How is the Arctic ice melting? Let us count the ways

  1. Arctic ice minimum volume will be reached in a couple of weeks at more than 6000 km3, which is 1000 km3 more than 2015 and 1500 km3 more than 2016.

It was very warm in the Arctic above the 80th latitude last winter. Late summer two hurricane strength storms broke up a lot of ice up and transported it south to areas where it was bound to melt. The ice area reached a new low, except for the year 2012, but the ice volume hit a new all time low on Sep 9 2016.

2. Northern Greenland ice has already started growing

3 The ice mass on Greenland has grown more than 150 km3 above normal this season.


4. The average Arctic temperature above 80 degree latitude has already dipped below freezing.

5. The Arctic ice area will still decrease for another month or so since sea ice does not start forming until temperatures are -4 degree C, but the ice volume is near its minimum since snow season in the Arctic has already started, and new snow on ice stays, and fresh snow has a higher albedo than old, tired ice.

The North East Passage choke point Cape Chelyuskin is still blocked. That is one week later than last year and three weeks later than 2015

Pen Hadow and crew set sail out of Nome 0300 GMT Aug 15. My prediction: They will reach the 80 th latitude, a full 600 nautical miles short of their goal.


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Retired engineer, graduated from Chalmers Technical University a long time ago with a degree in Technical Physics. Career in Aerospace, Analytical Chemistry, computer chip manufacturing and finally adjunct faculty at Pennsylvania State University, taught just one course in Computer Engineering, the Capstone Course.

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