(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 (Met.no), 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
Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Centre, Bergen, Norway
A. Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Germany (deployment)
University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway
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