Innovative technology to test the limits of human endurance in Antarctica

By | Science & Technology
Credit: Willis Resilience Expedition

The Willis Resilience Expedition team has arrived in Antarctica to begin a five week trek across the continent. The journey has two goals: to advance the understanding of the planetary resilience and to assess the limits of human endurance.

Parker Liautaud, a 19-year old sophomore at Yale University might become the youngest person ever to reach the North and South poles on foot. If the trip is successful, Liautaud will perform the fastest walk ever from the edge of the continent to the pole.

Credit: Willis Resilience Expedition

Credit: Willis Resilience Expedition

The young explorer has already conducted several scientific research tasks on the North Pole, which makes him an experienced scientist. Parker will be accompanied by a veteran explorer Doug Stout.

The researchers will take the trek during the Southern Hemisphere summer; however the average temperature in the area will be -30°C. Parker and Doug will also experience the permanent sunlight which is very challenging for a human’s endurance. Discoverers will have to steer clear of the massive winds of hurricane Katabatic which can arrive very unexpectedly and cover the entire expedition with snow in seconds. However, the explorers seem to be very excited about the expedition:

Parker Liautaud says: “After two years of careful planning and preparation, we are finally ready to start our journey to the South Pole.” “I am hugely excited about the challenges that lie ahead and hope that people will track our progress on the expedition website where you can follow our journey and join the debate on climate change,” he adds.

The scientists will take a 400-mile trek unsupported, while their progress will be measured by a 6×6 Toyota Hilux truck, “The Ice Broker”. The installed equipment on the truck will transmit data, biometrics, telemetry and live video throughout the journey via satellite. Viewers around the world can watch this happen via the Expedition website.

Due to the weather conditions in the area, the journey launch was delayed for five days. As soon as the weather improved, the team began Phase One of the expedition at Union Glacier in Punta Arenas, Chile. At this stage scientists are collecting all the necessary data which they will later share with climate change experts. The initial task of the scientists is to install a lightweight weather station the ColdFacts 3000BX. It is the first time that this equipment is being used in Antarctica. The weather station is transmitting meteorological data every 30 minutes.

The Phase Two of the expedition will start around December 8, when Parker will begin 640 kilometers journey. He will take the trek from Ross Ice Shelf to the Geographical South Pole in 22 days, at an estimated distance of 29 kilometers per day. At this stage the Ice Broker will stream live footage of Parker and Doug on their trip across the continent.

The result of the expedition will help the scientists understand what the real state of the global warming process is and perhaps very soon they will come up with a solution on how to reverse climate change.

How will the data collected by the explorers contribute to the current climate change research?

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