to the North Pole is unique, because you are skiing on frozen water above
an ocean over 4,500 metres deep, as opposed to being above land.
Despite being the smallest of the 5 Oceans, the Arctic Ocean is unique because
it is frozen for most of the year, despite global warming, which is reducing
the frozen area by over 3% every 10 years.
sea ice is an average of 3 metres thick, although the prevailing currents
cause drifting which, in turn, create pressure ridges up to 3 times that size.
Shrouded in darkness from October to February, it is a foreboding place with
temperatures plummeting to -60°C at the start of the expedition (although
temperatures down to -68°C have been recorded). The humidity experienced
by being so close to water makes the temperature “feel” colder.
Open water leads can also produce fog, adding to the difficulties.
As the team move further North during April and May, the combined effects
of warmer temperatures, the Transpolar Drift
and the Beaufort Gyre will start
to break the surface into a maze of pans and open water leads, that can vary
from a foot to a kilometre or so wide. This constant movement is noisy and
somewhat disturbing, particularly at night!
Little marine life exists where the ocean surface is frozen, apart from whales,
seals and polar bear's that tend to appear where the water is more open.