Explorers Connect

Global Adventure News 30 July 2012

EC CommunityJames Hipkiss

Descending to the bottom of The Gouffre Berger The Gouffre Berger, France, not only once held the record for the deepest known cave on Earth, but also the record for the first cave to pass the 1 km depth record.

Today, it is a popular destination for cavers who want to follow in the footsteps of the early French pioneers and test their skills hundreds of metres beneath the earth's surface. In the coming two weeks, a 200 strong European caving team led by top French explorer Rmy Limagne will descend on the cave and attempt to push, explore and map the far reaches of this vast system. Joining the expedition will also be industrial rope access and caving expert Mark Wright (UK), and renowned cave photographer Robbie Shone (UK/Austria). Sponsored by Petzl (France), Mark and Robbie are compiling a coffee table style book about The Gouffre Berger. Inside it will include early history of it's pioneering exploration by Ferdinand Petzl himself and others, a complete rigging guide (topo) for any adventurer daring to descend the cave's depths, all illustrated with a full set of photographs bound together in a high grade hard back book.

This will be the third and final annual expedition for Robbie, Mark and the small British photographic support team. After this years trip, the long process of piecing the pages of the book begins. All proceeds, profits etc from the book will be put into The 'Petzl Foundation' - A grant offering funding for unique expeditions all over the world. For a selection of images from previous expeditions please visit: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthpicturegalleries/8731275/Cave-photographer-Robert-Shone-explores-the-Gouffre-Berger-Cave-in-France.html

Over 10 years ago, Robbie set out on an adventure; an adventure that he is still living today. He moved to Sheffield, UK, to study for a BA in Fine Art and Photography and found a love for the outdoors. With one of the UKs greatest playgrounds on the doorstep, the Peak District National Park offered him excitement and action in a great scenic location. Capturing the activity on the surface was great, but soon he developed a real passion for photographing caves and the rarely seen world that lies beneath our feet. Since then, he has been on many exciting expeditions around the world, travelled to some extremely remote locations and assisted for National Geographic Magazine. He has photographed the deepest, largest, longest cave systems known. Even hung on a thin rope, 300m below the ceiling, feet dangling in inky black space 200m above the floor, photographing Miao Keng, the worlds deepest natural shaft; explored the far ends of the 189km long Clearwater Cave system; and spent 94 hours photographing underground in the first cave to reach the 1km depth record, the Gouffre Berger.

The work of Robbie Shone has featured in national and international magazines, newspapers and books and won several awards. Not restricted to cave photography, some of the highlights of his expedition photography have been capturing wildlife, travel and landscape images. These have achieved finalist status in several highly acclaimed international travel and wildlife competitions. He also holds the IRATA Level 3 Supervisor certificate. This qualifies him to work and supervise people working at height on ropes. Film and television crews often call upon these skills including BBC Earth The Power of the Planet, Ultimate Caving and Blue Peter. Now, based in Innsbruck in the heart of the Austrian Alps. A new chapter in landscape and extreme sport photography has just begun and he is very excited about it! For more examples of Robbie's adventure photography, please visit his website - www.shonephotography.com A world first: the Arctic Row The Arctic Row departed on 17th July 2012 on an epic endurance event that has never been attempted before. Four men; Paul Ridley, Collin West, Neal Mueller and Scott Mortensen will set off from Inuvik in Northern Canada to attempt the first, non-stop, unsupported row across the Arctic Ocean. Their destination; Providenya, Russia on the other side of the Berring Strait, 1300 miles away. Their aim is to raise awareness about the Arctic Ocean draw attention to Arctic related issues that effect us all: climate change, energy innovation environmental protection.

The expedition is expected to take 30 days, rowing 2 hours and sleeping for two hours in two man shifts 24 hours a day for the duration of the trip. to sustain this level of activity the team will have to consume 5,000 calories every day. In the extreme cold water of the Arctic ocean the team would not survive for long if they had to abandon their boat so they are carrying a life raft, insulated waterproof survival suits and radio satellite communications should they need to summon the coast guard for a rescue. Leading the team is Paul Ridley, 25, Paul completed an 87 day crossing of the Atlantic becoming the youngest american ever to complete this feat, his motto is give it all up which is a reference to his philosophy; leave nothing behind. Spare no reserve of body, mind or spirit in making this world a better place, right here, right now. We wish the Arctic Row team a safe journey and the best of luck. Visit the website: http://www.arcticrow.com Satellites See Unprecedented Greenland Ice Sheet Surface Melt For several days this month, Greenland's surface ice cover melted over a larger area than at any time in more than 30 years of satellite observations. Nearly the entire ice cover of Greenland, from its thin, low-lying coastal edges to its 2-mile-thick center, experienced some degree of melting at its surface, according to measurements from three independent satellites analyzed by NASA and university scientists.

On average in the summer, about half of the surface of Greenland's ice sheet naturally melts. At high elevations, most of that melt water quickly refreezes in place. Near the coast, some of the melt water is retained by the ice sheet and the rest is lost to the ocean. But this year the extent of ice melting at or near the surface jumped dramatically. According to satellite data, an estimated 97 percent of the ice sheet surface thawed at some point in mid-July. Researchers have not yet determined whether this extensive melt event will affect the overall volume of ice loss this summer and contribute to sea level rise. The Greenland ice sheet is a vast area with a varied history of change. This event, combined with other natural but uncommon phenomena, such as the large calving event last week on Petermann Glacier, are part of a complex story, said Tom Wagner, NASA's cryosphere program manager in Washington. Satellite observations are helping us understand how events like these may relate to one another as well as to the broader climate system.

Son Nghiem of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., was analyzing radar data from the Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) Oceansat-2 satellite last week when he noticed that most of Greenland appeared to have undergone surface melting on July 12. Nghiem said, This was so extraordinary that at first I questioned the result: was this real or was it due to a data error? Nghiem consulted with Dorothy Hall at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. Hall studies the surface temperature of Greenland using the Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites. She confirmed that MODIS showed unusually high temperatures and that melt was extensive over the ice sheet surface. Thomas Mote, a climatologist at the University of Georgia, Athens, Ga., and Marco Tedesco of City University of New York also confirmed the melt seen by Oceansat-2 and MODIS with passive-microwave satellite data from the Special Sensor Microwave Imager/Sounder on a U.S. Air Force meteorological satellite. The melting spread quickly. Melt maps derived from the three satellites showed that on July 8, about 40 percent of the ice sheet's surface had melted. By July 12, 97 percent had melted. This extreme melt event coincided with an unusually strong ridge of warm air, or a heat dome, over Greenland. The ridge was one of a series that has dominated Greenland's weather since the end of May. Each successive ridge has been stronger than the previous one, said Mote.

This latest heat dome started to move over Greenland on July 8, and then parked itself over the ice sheet about three days later. By July 16, it had begun to dissipate. Even the area around Summit Station in central Greenland, which at 2 miles above sea level is near the highest point of the ice sheet, showed signs of melting. Such pronounced melting at Summit and across the ice sheet has not occurred since 1889, according to ice cores analyzed by Kaitlin Keegan at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather station at Summit confirmed air temperatures hovered above or within a degree of freezing for several hours July 11-12. Ice cores from Summit show that melting events of this type occur about once every 150 years on average. With the last one happening in 1889, this event is right on time, says Lora Koenig, a Goddard glaciologist and a member of the research team analyzing the satellite data. But if we continue to observe melting events like this in upcoming years, it will be worrisome. Nghiem's finding while analyzing Oceansat-2 data was the kind of benefit that NASA and ISRO had hoped to stimulate when they signed an agreement in March 2012 to cooperate on Oceansat-2 by sharing data. For more information about NASA programs, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/ Expedition River Rider On July 29th, 2012.

Young Adventurer Chris Hayward, 18, will be embarking on a journey of a lifetime kayaking down the mighty Murray River! Seperating two Australian States and spanning over 2,995km from source to sea the Murray River will present quite the challenge with Class 3 rapids, freezing temperatures and bankside willows along with the occasional venomous snake. The expedition should take about 3 months to kayak the whole 2,995km of the Murray River, it will be an entirely solo expedition with no ground crew, supply drops or backup.

Chris will be starting in Biggara, Victoria and finishing in Goolwa, South Australia, he will be kayaking 30km - 50km per a day with the exception of the occasional rest and wonder around days aswell as logistics and restock days. During the expedition Chris will be raising money for Greenfleet and promoting environmental awareness. See: www.chrishayward.com.au Like and follow: www.facebook.com/expeditionriverrider Or donate at: www.everydayhero.com.au/expeditionriverrider

Are you for real? The Congo expedition to discover a mythical creature Over the last few months we've been keeping a weather eye on the Newmac expedition. This planned three month trip to the jungles of darkest Africa has been initiated by Steven McCullah, an American with a background in biology and chemistry who has been involved in humanitarian and research projects and jungle expeditions in South America. He and two friends are currently financing and planning the trip which aims to: make contact with the Mbenga pygmies of the Lake Tele region of the Northern Republic of Congo document new species retrieve and procure DNA and physical samples in the field for further study. So far so good, but here's where things get weird: The expedition intends to document new species and find evidence of the Mokele-mbembe.

Based on the first hand accounts of eye-witnesses, the Mokele-mbembe is described as having a long neck, snake-like head, three-toed claws, and being as large as an elephant. In fact, Mokele-mbembe in the Pygmy language is roughly translated as one who stops the flow of rivers. Currently, there is no creature known to science that fits this description. Although calling the creature a sauropod may be premature, we believe it is a new species of large monitor lizardakin to the Komodo dragon of Africa. Some journalists who have written about this have published under the headline Jurrasic Lark? but here's an aspect to the trip which we find even more interesting . . . Steven was using kickstarter.com to raise crowd funding for the project, their page shows that over $29,000 has been pledged by 750 backers, the project has been auctioning off the opportunity to bring back pygmy artefacts and name new animal species for their contributors.

However Steven's twitter account hasn't shown any further activity since 11 may when the funding goals were apparently reached. Using a crowd-funding platform in this way to get financial backers for an expedition is genius and we would like to see much more of our members getting to go off on their adventures this way. The aim of discovering the Mokele-mbembe has been a massive media draw and the project has received lots of PR this way which has contributed significantly to the funding campaign. But was that the real aim of the expedition? Or was it thrown into the PR blend to make their project stand out? An article published by a member of EC earlier this year suggested this very tactic, did Steven read it here first? Whatever the motivation or tactics behind this trip one thing is not in doubt - Steven McCollah has been very clever in getting this project off the ground, it only remains to be seen where it will go. We wish the Newmac expedition the best of luck, this sounds like a great adventure which could yield real scientific value and who knows, maybe even discover a relic dinosaur.

Latest update: Frday 13th July - We have found the expedition twitter account - it appears that they are in country, already and facing the usual trials and tribulations which accompany a venture of this kind. You can follow them at https://twitter.com/NewmacCongo Stay safe team Newmac we look forward to reading all about it on your return. Visit the website: http://newmac-expedition.com/