The FRAM 2014-15 Ice Station Week 41 on the ice. (click to expand)
courtesy FRAM 2014-15 / NERSC, SOURCE
Lead behind the hovercraft in the process of widening on Sunday 21 June (Week 42). (click to expand)
courtesy FRAM 2014-15 / NERSC, SOURCE
Arctic Winter, February 1st, 2015: Audun working on the wind mill. The work tent is in the foreground behind a snow drift.
courtesy FRAM 2014-15 / NERSC, SOURCE
Arctic Winter: Clearing the hovercraft skirt from snow at local noon 25 February.
courtesy FRAM 2014-15 / NERSC, SOURCE
"Overview of the ice floe at the hovercraft site July 23rd, 2015. [Equipment] drop site marked by red "X". Photo courtesy of Pilot Tom-Are Stolsdokken, Lufttransport. View to the WSW."
courtesy FRAM 2014-15 / NERSC / Tom-Are Stolsdokken, SOURCE
"Interesting cases of algae? growth are observed below some ice floes."
courtesy FRAM 2014-15 / NERSC, SOURCE
The drift track of FRAM-2014/15 (red line)
courtesy FRAM 2014-15 / NERSC, SOURCE
Summary of science programs and camp logistics during the ice drift. (click to expand)
courtesy FRAM 2014-15 / NERSC, SOURCE
Yngve Kristoffersen and Audun Tholfsen talked about their experience at the Nansen Center yesterday. (click to expand)
courtesy NRK, SOURCE
Audun Tholfsen crossing open water during his and Timo Palo's North Pole to Svalbard ski and kayak expedition.
courtesy Timo Palo, SOURCE
Science Research: Year on Arctic Ice in Hovercraft

Posted: Aug 26, 2015 09:56 am EDT


(Correne Coetzer) Two Norwegian polar explorers/researchers arrived back home in Norway on August 22nd after spending nearly a year on the Arctic Ice. On August 30th, 2014, Yngve Kristoffersen and Audun Tholfsen and their hovercraft and science ice drift station were deployed in the Makarov Basin, about 280km from the Geographic North Pole off the East Siberian coast, by the German icebreaker, Polarstern. An ice camp was built on a 1,1 meter thick and 2 square kilometres ice floe. 


In 353 days the station has drifted 1900 kilometres across the Arctic Ocean until it ended in the Fram Strait, between Greenland and Svalbard. The advantage of the hovercraft was that the two men could easily move around on the ice and open water in summer.


On 18th August the ice drift station was recovered at 81ºN by the sealer, Havsel, and Sabvabaa  [hovercraft] was escorted back to Longyearbyen. This completed the Norwegian FRAM-2014/15 ice drift station hosted by the Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center (NERSC) in Bergen, Norway.


For near one year the two scientists have drifted through the central Arctic Ocean, crossing the Lomonosov Ridge five times, southward towards the Fram Strait, between Greenland and Svalbard (see attached map). During the drift unique sea ice, oceanographic, atmospheric and geologic scientific measurements and observations have been made in pristine parts of the Arctic Ocean. 


FRAM-2014/15 expedition is the first Norwegian ice drift in the Arctic Ocean since Fridtjof Nansen's drift with the vessel Fram 118 years ago.




The main science objective of the ice drift was to obtain geologic information which relates the geologic evolution and the paleoenvironment of the polar continental margin of Europe prior to about 56 million years ago, now represented by the Lomonosov Ridge. 


The primary tools were seismic reflection measurements and short sediment cores from key locations. Additional programs included measurements of incoming and outgoing radiation at the ice surface (, local weather (Univ. of Bergen), transfer of heat from the water to the underside of the ice (Univ. of Bergen), measurement of deep contour following currents (Univ. of Bergen), temperature and salinity measurements (Univ. of Bergen, Univ. of Århus), short sediment cores for studies of the presence of sea ice during past warm climate periods (Nordic Centers of Excellence), and bottom camera to explore life on the sea bed.


A logistic objective was to explore the use of hovercraft as a platform for a drifting ice station where camp mobility and a lean operation are a way to reduce the impact of destructive sea ice activity.


FRAM-2014/15 ice drift:


Total duration: 353 days

Total science days: 303

Total drift: 2.200 km

Data acquisition: 1.900 km

Final budget: NOK. 5.1 million (Euro 625 k)

Fuel consumption: 15.000 liter


Responsible institution:

Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Centre, Bergen, Norway


Cooperating partners:

A. Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Germany (deployment)

University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway


Field support:

Norwegian Air Force, 333 Squadron (two support missions)

Danish Air Force (air drop and photography)


An ice drift station is a logistic alternative to:


- explore areas of the Arctic Ocean not accessible to icebreakers,

- carry out scientific field experiments which cover the full annual cycle and requires physical presence.


The FRAM 2014-15 expedition leader, 73-year-old Prof. Yngve Kristoffersen was accompanied by much younger polar explorer, Audun Tholfsen. In the 2012 Arctic ski season Audun and Timo Palo skied and kayaked from the Geographic North Pole to Svalbard (Pole to Land). See the links below for more information.


FRAM 2014-15 website


FRAM 2014-15 Videos




North Pole to Svalbard ski & kayak: Timo Palo & Audun Tholfsen arrived at land (June 16th 2012)


North Pole 2012 ExWeb interview (part 1 of 3): Timo Palo and Audun Tholfsen, “Conditions didn’t look promising and the risk too high”


North Pole 2012 ExWeb interview (Part 2 of 3): Timo Palo and Audun Tholfsen, “Mentally the most exhaustive was to walk on the rotten ice floes"


North Pole 2012 ExWeb interview (Part 3 of 3): Timo Palo and Audun Tholfsen: “We were hunted by a polar bear


112 years after: Nansen's and Johansen's North Pole quest retraced


112 years after: Gentlemen explorers - ExWeb interview with Borge and Thomas


Best of ExplorersWeb 2007 Awards: Thomas and Borge - in Nansen's footsteps, North Pole


Marc Cornelissen identified, Philip de Roo remains missing


Antarctic Yacht and Drone requirements


Arctic Polar expeditions Statistics at AdventureStats