Arctic QA Archive

During the expedition we ran an Arctic QA where you could post a question for a specific crew member, or send a general question to the boat. Each day a different question was answered by the crew in the Arctic. Read on for the QA archive.

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  1. Marije de Haas

    Posted Friday 26 Sep at 17:09 | Permalink

    Dear all,

    I was watching this lecture by David Keith at about geo engineering: He poses a few very interesting questions, and I was wondering what the general view on geo engineering was on the boat?
    * I am aware you probably won’t be able to watch this video on the boat…

    Sunand Prasad responds to Marije’s question

    What do the Cape Farewell crew think of Geo-Engineering as a solution to climate change?

    Well, we haven’t all discussed it in depth, but from a few conversations its clear that we share 1: serious worry about the unintended consequences of some of the proposals that have been aired; 2: incredulous amusement about the complete lunacy of others and 3: ill temper at the thought of the promise of technological quick fixes distracting attention from tackling the cultural challenge that climate change poses.

    Seeding the oceans or growing algae to re-absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere may win Richard Branson’s £25m prize but might they accelerate rather than slow the death of the oceans? As for space mirrors to reflect the suns rays, the problem is surely not too much sun but the loss of balance of distribution of its energy. Some of the more outlandish proposals certainly have entertainment value like blasting the earth into a wider orbit or altering the tilt of its axis, as long as we leave it there.

    For a few centuries we have done something that seemed so innocent at the time: get stuff out of the ground and burn it. We are only just appreciating the effects this had on the fine balance that produced and sustained for several thousand years the conditions for our civilisations to flourish. There are effective, feasible solutions for mitigating climate change available now, only the political will is lacking. There are promising new technologies desperately needing investment. We need to be open to all ideas including Geo-engineering which is likely to be a key part of adaptation to climate change: building dikes and barrages against flooding, for example. But climate change needs a more fundamental rethinking of our relationship with the earth.

  2. anton

    Posted Saturday 27 Sep at 20:29 | Permalink

    It’s warm out there ?

  3. mark

    Posted Sunday 28 Sep at 01:17 | Permalink

    Just thought you would like to know

    Syun-Ichi Akasofu, Community Perspective

    Recent studies by the Hadley Climate Research Center (UK), the Japan Meteorological Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the University of East Anglia (UK) and the University of Alabama Huntsville show clearly that the rising trend of global average temperature stopped in 2000-2001. Further, NASA data shows that warming in the southern hemisphere has stopped, and that ocean temperatures also have stopped rising.

    The global average temperature had been rising until about 2000-2001. The International Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) and many scientists hypothesize rising temperatures were mostly caused by the greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide (CO2), and they predicted further temperature increases after 2000. It was natural to assume that CO2 was responsible for the rise, because CO2 molecules in the atmosphere tend to reflect back the infrared radiation to the ground, preventing cooling (the greenhouse effect) and also because CO2 concentrations have been rapidly increasing since 1946. But, this hypothesis on the cause of global warming is just one of several.

    Unfortunately, many scientists appear to forget that weather and climate also are controlled by nature, as we witness weather changes every day and climate changes in longer terms. During the last several years, I have suggested that it is important to identify the natural effects and subtract them from the temperature changes. Only then can we be sure of the man-made contributions. This suggestion brought me the dubious honor of being designated “Alaska’s most famous climate change skeptic.”

    Syun-Ichi Akasofu is a former director of the Geophysical Institute and the International Arctic Research Center, both on the campus of the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

  4. lucy

    Posted Monday 29 Sep at 08:56 | Permalink

    I’m curious – Does witnessing the vastness of the arctic and the extent of global warming make you feel fatalistic?

  5. Rachel

    Posted Monday 29 Sep at 15:10 | Permalink

    There is a quote: ‘This, too, will pass’

    You are living in the now of the Arctic, aware of the way it is changing; how powerful or powerless do you feel to affect the way it will change?

    If the change is coming to pass regardless, what is our purpose?

    Big Questions, hope there’s space or time to answer them-

    Marcus Brigstocke responds to Rachel’s question

    As Marcus’ reply is quite lengthy, you can read it on his blog

  6. Mark Brandon

    Posted Tuesday 30 Sep at 09:30 | Permalink

    Hi All,
    I thought Dr Boxall would be interested in this. Nature Geoscience are publishing a paper on Jakobshavn Isbræ on Oct 1 2008. The abstract available online in advance publication says:

    Acceleration of Jakobshavn Isbræ triggered by warm subsurface ocean waters
    David M. Holland, Robert H. Thomas, Brad de Young, Mads H. Ribergaard & Bjarne Lyberth

    Observations over the past decades show a rapid acceleration of several outlet glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica. One of the largest changes is a sudden switch of Jakobshavn Isbræ, a large outlet glacier feeding a deep-ocean fjord on Greenland’s west coast, from slow thickening to rapid thinning in 1997, associated with a doubling in glacier velocity. Suggested explanations for the speed-up of Jakobshavn Isbræ include increased lubrication of the ice–bedrock interface as more meltwater has drained to the glacier bed during recent warmer summers and weakening and break-up of the floating ice tongue that buttressed the glacier. Here we present hydrographic data that show a sudden increase in subsurface ocean temperature in 1997 along the entire west coast of Greenland, suggesting that the changes in Jakobshavn Isbræ were instead triggered by the arrival of relatively warm water originating from the Irminger Sea near Iceland. We trace these oceanic changes back to changes in the atmospheric circulation in the North Atlantic region. We conclude that the prediction of future rapid dynamic responses of other outlet glaciers to climate change will require an improved understanding of the effect of changes in regional ocean and atmosphere circulation on the delivery of warm subsurface waters to the periphery of the ice sheets.

    Makes your measurements very useful doesn’t it?
    Calm seas and sunny skys!

  7. Exzact

    Posted Tuesday 30 Sep at 17:37 | Permalink

    Don’t you think that the amount of carbon / damage you do in making capefarwell is larger than the benefits?

    Your journey looks amazing, and your mission is admirable, however, all it is doing to me so far, is making me want to go to the Arctic too and burn more carbon that way?

    Also, how are you raising awareness to industry, economists and policy makers with who can actually make laws that can make a difference?

    Good luck

    Hannah Bird responds to Exzact’s question

    We take steps to reduce our carbon impact [our sustainability policy can be found in our strategic plan 2008-2011 available online – for example we have installed solar panels in our old London office, the boat in the Arctic cruises not at full steam, but what we also factor into our decision making is the potential for change and influence following the expedition. We have an amazing onboard crew of artists from many disciplines, of decisions makers, film makers and two science crews – we have acted as the catalyst to enable this, already there are projects being carried out and plans for creative collaborations into the future. We believe that this expedition is an unbelievable opportunity to engage these individuals [and their audiences] with the climate challenge, to allow them to experience first hand the ‘Canary in the Coal Mine’ of climate change that is the Arctic. Standing at the edge of the Jakobshavn Glacier, one of the fastest moving Glaciers in the world truly is standing on the frontline of climate change.

    With respect to the influence of Cape Farewell on key industry, economists and policy makers. At the beginning of the expedition, we received a note of support from the Prime Minster of Great Britain. We believe artists have a powerful voice to help enable a cultural response and ultimately achieve the cultural shift which is needed if we are to face the climate challenge. We don’t work in isolation to try and make this happen.

    Hannah Bird

  8. Juan Pablo

    Posted Thursday 2 Oct at 04:29 | Permalink

    You are all truly inspiring people. Now, I’ve just returned from the Youth expedition and I learned my fair share from the Arctic beauty and from the other voyagers, but what do you all have to say to the youth around the world? Any tips or plans for us to share with our schools? Truly appreciate it. I am excitingly following your trip, and I hope we get to talk about both of them one day. Good luck…

    Hannah Bird responds to Juan’s question

    Hi Juan,
    Thanks for your questions and for taking part in the youth expedition, please check the education section of for various resources, ideas and activities for schools, our ambition is that climate change is taught right across the curriculum and not only restricted to being taught in isolation in say science or geography lessons. Climate change is a cultural issue which demands a cultural response – it requires a creative approach and we hope that our education programme will help achieve that in schools and young people. But you have to do your bit too! Now you have returned from the Arctic it is up to you to share your stories and lessons and help others to understand the beauty of what we stand to lose.

    What do ‘we’ have to say to the youth? Perhaps the question you should be answering is what do ‘they’ have to say to ‘us’!

  9. Keirsten Johnson

    Posted Wednesday 8 Oct at 01:03 | Permalink

    I really would like to know why you asked different artist to join you and how you went about doing so? I think it’s really interesting that they agreed to do this and they must be benefiting from it greatly. Also, I would like to know what Feist and KT will take home with them from this experience.

    Oh, since I am a HUGE Feist fan, I would like to state again that Feist should write a book. I love reading her post because she writes so well. Just saying…