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1903 Ice Warrior ;

The journey to the Northern Pole of Inaccessibility: a citizen science expedition

Meet Joe (MSc, Climate Change: Environment, Science and Policy, 2021), King’s alumnus and a polar explorer in training, who is embarking on a challenge that will certainly push him out of his comfort zone. Taking part in this project comes with real risks and will push participants to reach where no-one has ventured before – the Northern Pole of Inaccessibility. Joe tells us more about the project, why he is motivated to take part and how his degree from King’s has helped.

What is the Ice Warrior Project?

Ice Warrior was founded over 20 years ago by Jim McNeill, with the aim of training individuals to be competent modern-day polar explorers. The project has been successful with seven major expeditions completed since 2001 and approximately 450 ordinary novices from all walks of life have taken part in training to become competent polar explorers. These expeditions are purposeful and worthwhile, with the ultimate aim to help scientists further understand our planet and to deliver our findings in a manner which engages everyone on the environmental challenges we face.

Ice Warrior’s next flagship expedition is to the Northern Pole of Inaccessibility, which is defined as the point in the Arctic Ocean furthest away from land. The Northern Pole of Inaccessibility is yet to be reached by mankind and is considered the last world-first in polar expeditions. The Ice Warrior team plan to complete this expedition in 2024 (provided financial support can be secured), which will comprise an 800-mile journey from Cape Isachsen in Canada to the Northern Pole of Inaccessibility. Along the 800-mile journey, we will be collecting data on the condition of the sea ice, weather, oceanography, pollution and species. This will feed back to world-leading science and provide important ground-truthed data to be integrated into climate models. Following the expedition, we hope to personally be able to tell our story, while the data collected will be able to influence environmental policymaking.

Find out more about the Ice Warrior Project.

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Joe Witt in a black coat with a red hood 

Joe’s motivation

Some may deem a challenge like this crazy, but I have decided to take part in this project to challenge myself outside of my normal working life. Since leaving King’s, I have found myself wanting to seek a next challenge that is purposeful and where I can use a skillset learned through my academic career. I believe that you learn most about yourself and benefit the most from adverse situations/environments. This project will undoubtedly offer that, and hopefully provide me with skills and experiences that I can integrate into my normal life.

As a Geography (BSc) from Durham and subsequently a Climate Change master’s graduate from King’s, and now working as an Environmental Consultant, the science is also an important motivation to take part. I want to play my part in a project that actively contributes to climate action and helps further the understanding of the planet and how we can protect it.

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A red pulk in the snow

Inspiration from King’s

My time at King’s furthered consolidated my passion for learning about global processes and immersing myself in the natural world through my Climate Change: Environment, Science and Policy master's. The course allowed me to take an interdisciplinary approach to understanding climate change and furthering my knowledge about the importance of the world’s most fragile ecosystems. Importantly, the degree provided the context to the reasoning behind the Ice Warrior Project and gave me a thorough understanding of the climate science that we will be collecting data towards.

This has inspired me to play my part and contribute towards enhancing the accuracy of climate science, and hopefully keep climate action at the forefront of international policymaking.

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The Northern Lights

What happens next?

I am in the process of completing training to become a competent polar explorer. I have already undertaken a ten-day ‘Core Skills’ training course in Dartmoor, where we learned the basic skills for an expedition but in a UK environment. In January, I completed my polar training in Svalbard, Norway. For over three weeks, I applied the skills learned in Dartmoor in a polar environment and learned how to survive in these conditions. Activities in Svalbard included polar bear protection, learning to ski with a pulk (the sled you pull), snow shelters, camp craft, navigation, cold weather first aid and an eight-day training expedition in the wilderness of Svalbard. Now back in the UK, I am continuing with physical fitness training and brushing up on the technical skills when I can.

If I successfully complete my training and I can raise the required funds, I will hopefully be taking part in the #LastPole expedition to the Northern Pole of Inaccessibility in 2024. The journey is split into four legs, each comprising 200 miles over 20 days. I will join one of the four teams as we ski across the Arctic Ocean and along the way collect scientific data to feed back to scientists. The expedition will gain significant exposure and those partnered with me will similarly receive significant exposure.

Find out more

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