During the spring of year 2014, the polar explorer Ramón Larramendi and his team will realize yet another expedition ever performed by human beings in Greenland, the world’s largest island and still one of the least known. A journey that could surpass the record of distance travelled in a single day: over 500 km (310.68 mi) in 24 hours.
On this occasion, the objective is a circular route on the ice mass (Inlandsis) aboard the WindSled. More than 5000 km (3106.85 mi) to demonstrate the possibilities of the sled as the only vehicle in the world that can become a “polar mobile laboratory”.
It will be once again a pioneer geographical route that will test the vehicle. A new scientific adventure to break established records. To begin with, the crew will encounter very different winds, not always in favor, which will improve the technique already used in previous trips.
Samples of ice and snow will be collected to analyze their profiles and check pollution levels. Radioactivity levels will be also measured in areas that have harbored former military bases.
The expedition is scheduled for the months of May-June, with almost 24 hours of sunlight a day. The intention of the expeditionary is to take turns piloting to be running as long as possible during the 45 day period provided for this new challenge of Spanish exploration. A previous expedition (Lonnie Dupre and John Hoelscher) who tried it with clean transport means (dog sledding and kayak), took five years between 1997 and 2010. The WindSled crew will only invest 45 days!
The team shall consist of five members: three members already belonging to The WindSled Project and two technical reviewers.
The trip will commence in the center west of Greenland, near Ilullisat on the ‘Inlandsis’ glacier or ice cap. The expeditionary will be taken by helicopter here to then head north to the Thule region, a journey in which it is expected to invest less than a week. From Thule, the return shall initiate on the east side of the island, the most unexplored, and passing near Kangerlussuaq and Narsaq to end up in the same starting place, Ilullisat.
In the month and a half the expedition lasts, the WindSled plans to visit several international scientific stations that are on route:
– The Raven Camp in Southwest Greenland, a US research center.
– The Neem Scientific Station belonging to the University of Copenhagen, in the northwest of the island, where work focuses on the collection and analysis of ice cuts (ice core).
– The Camp Summit Scientific Station in the center of the island. Created in 1989, this station is one of the hubs of research on climate change.
– The Northern Ice Station which the British kept open between years 1952 and 1954 buried under the ice and during the Cold War.
– The Military Bases Camps Century and DYE, American military radar stations during the Cold War which were used to detect Soviet missiles, authentic underground cities. There was a nuclear reactor there, thus measures of environmental radioactivity will be taken.
The WindSled incorporates numerous innovations that will be tested for the ultimate development of the most efficient and sustainable polar carrier possible.
As on former occasions, the expeditionary add to the exploration and environmental challenge, the scientific one: collection of air and ice samples thanks to a special cut which, upon return, will be handed to Spanish scientists to be useful in studies of climate change in the last 20,000 years (analysis of snow isotopes taken at 3.3 ft (1 m) in depth and pollutants.
On the expedition, the temperatures to withstand can be down to minus 30 degrees Celsius.
A new purpose that may establish the foundations of new knowledge and understanding of polar areas while not leaving one single trace behind.