Arctic Mission

Exploring the North Pole’s wildlife

In 2017 Pen Hadow launched a new programme of scientific expeditions, Arctic Mission, to explore the wildlife and floating ice-reef ecosystem of the waters around the North Pole (these International Waters or High Seas are also referred to as the Central Arctic Ocean).

The key new insight from the voyage was to realise that sea-ice loss needs to be focused less on the geophysical phenomenon of ‘melting sea water’, and far more on the potentially catastrophic loss of a unique floating ice-reef habitat and ecosystem involving some of the planet’s most iconic species.

These expeditions, directed by Hadow, will set forth to the Arctic Ocean every year till 2032, with two objectives:

  • To gather scientific information about the wildlife and ecosystem that will inform international policy-makers on the optimum approach to the protection of this environment
  • To engage the public in understanding more about the wildlife, the multiple environmental and human threats it faces, and to update on progress creating a protected area.

Arctic Mission’s first expedition involved sailing two 50’ yachts into the North Pole’s international waters. In becoming the first vessels in history to do so without the use of icebreakers, the expedition demonstrated the extent of recent summer sea-ice loss and the resulting accessibility of these waters to surface commercial shipping, fishing, tourism and mineral extraction.

The wildlife and ecosystem uniquely adapted to the existence of sea ice is being stressed by the reduction of this habitat, in part due to man-induced climate change. But we have opportunity to prevent new potentially disastrous stressors by strictly controlling all human activity in the area.