Education & Research

Young explorers document global warming in the Arctic

Four nations, one task. Six young polar explorers are spending the spring crossing Ellesmere Island in Canada in order to document climate change and inspire their own generation to take collective action against global warming. The expedition is set to document changes in ice shelves, retreating glaciers, and damage to the natural environment caused by global warming.

“When I look at the youth of today and I see what’s coming to them, I actually feel sorry for them. But I know they can make a difference, and I have an investment in my heart in that generation,” says the respected American polar adventurer and environmental campaigner Will Steger, who is leading the expedition.

The aim of the expedition is to encourage an interest among young people in the natural world and climate issues. The expedition team is made up of six polar explorers in their twenties, from Norway, the US, Canada and the UK. Between 1 April and 1 June 2008, the team and their dogsleds will cover a distance of over 2200 kilometres, retracing a historic route.

The expedition is part of the public awareness raising initiative Global Warming 101, where Mr Steger’s expeditions are used to provide information about climate change in the Arctic and the Antarctic.

The expedition is following an historical route. Photo: Will Steger Foundation.

Information from the expedition will be made available on the Internet, in the form of daily updates. On the website, those participating in the expedition will be able to share their daily observations. There will also be learning activities and a discussion forum, as well as podcasts and video footage from the expedition transmitted using mobile and satellite technology. The expedition will make use of alternative energy sources, such as solar and wind power, and provide information about these as part of its learning activities on environmentally sound energy solutions. The Global Warming 101 initiative is an extensive education programme available in English, and is aimed at middle school pupils.

“My team is composed of some of the brightest young explorers in the world. They continue to inspire my efforts to solve global warming and will serve as excellent role models for their generation,” Steger says. Photo: Will Steger Foundation.

Mr Steger has hand-picked the team members, based on their experience and expedition credentials. Accompanying him to Ellesmere will be two National Geographic grant recipients, two international record holders in skiing, one of the world’s best dog drivers, named “rookie of the year” in the 2007 Alaskan Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, a polar historian, and Sam Branson, son of the entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson.

The Norwegian participants are dog driver Sigrid Ekran (27) and polar historian Thorleif Tobias Thorleifsson (28). 

Sam Branson is one of the participants in the expedition that will start in April. Photo: Will Steger Foundation.

The project is being carried out in collaboration with, among others, the scientific programme International Polar Year, National Geographic Society, Union of Concerned Scientists, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Norwegian Ministry of the Environment, and the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research.

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www.globalwarming101.comPhoto: Will Steger Foundation

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