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Last Updated: Monday, 19 May, 2003, 10:04 GMT 11:04 UK
Arctic sailors on climate trail
By Alex Kirby
BBC News Online environment correspondent

A group of artists is sailing to the high Arctic to try to make climate science accessible to everyone.

Monaco glacier   Jan Belgers/Oceanwide Expeditions
Svalbard's Monaco glacier: The Arctic is warming
They are the crew of the Noorderlicht, an elderly schooner, who are sailing from Norway to Svalbard.

They say their trip will let them take ocean current measurements and investigate the melting of the ice.

They hope to make scientific research exciting far beyond the scientific community itself.

The expedition is called after Cape Farewell, the southernmost point of Greenland. It sails from Tromso in northern Norway on 26 May.

It says its aim is "to bring education, science and the arts together through adventure and environmental awareness".

Help for teachers

It hopes to reach Longyearbyen, the administrative capital of Svalbard, on 8 June, after calling at Bear Island, south of the main island of Spitsbergen.

Svalbard, under Norwegian sovereignty, lies roughly halfway between the mainland of Norway and the North Pole.

Bear on ice   Jan Belgers/Oceanwide Expeditions
If you make science an adventure, students will happily absorb as much as you give them
David Buckland, Cape Farewell project director
The artists will be sailing with scientists from the Southampton Oceanography Centre (Soc), and education policy writers from the UK's Association of Science Education and the Geographical Association.

One aim is to produce multi-media education packs for classroom testing. They could ultimately become part of the UK curriculum for teaching students about climate change.

The expedition website says the voyage will "disseminate current thinking and information about ocean science to as broad a public as possible through science, arts, education and the media".

The 18 people sailing on the Noorderlicht, which was built in 1910, include a film crew and photographer. The expedition will send e-mails back to Soc, which will update the website with the schooner's progress.

The expedition has received financial support from the UK's National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (Nesta).

Off the beaten track

Nesta's chief executive, Jeremy Newton, said: "We are delighted to be associated with the Cape Farewell project, which cleverly fuses science, technology and the arts to communicate some very serious messages about climate change.

"Nesta is particularly keen to support projects that will stretch and challenge educational approaches.

Expedition yacht in icy sea  Jan Belgers/Oceanwide Expeditions
The Noorderlicht is almost a century old
"We hope that Cape Farewell will leave a lasting legacy in the way geography is taught in schools."

The expedition is the brainchild of the artist David Buckland, who is the project director.

He told BBC News Online: "I spent some time at the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research, seeing what they did there, and that set my imagination off.

Further horizons

"We will get some real results - for example, Southampton has lent us equipment to measure water temperatures down to 7-800 metres beneath the surface.

"But it's very unlikely we'll find anything that adds to the knowledge the scientists already have.

"What we'll be doing is making their work exciting. If you make science an adventure, students will happily absorb as much as you give them."

A second phase of the expedition is planned for September 2004, sailing from Lonmgyearbyen to Scoresbysund in Greenland.

Images courtesy and copyright of Jan Belgers/Oceanwide Expeditions

Greenhouse gases 'at record levels'
11 Feb 03  |  Science/Nature
Whales probe Arctic fjord's secrets
24 Jan 03  |  Science/Nature
Record ice loss in Arctic
09 Dec 02  |  Science/Nature
Arctic ice 'melting from below'
27 Mar 02  |  Science/Nature

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