National Post

Thick Arctic ice surprises scientific expedition
National Post

Ice in the Arctic is often twice as thick as expected, report surprised scientists who returned last week from a major scientific expedition. The scientists – a 20-member contingent from Canada, the U.S., Germany, and Italy – spent one month exploring the North Pole as well as never-before measured regions of the Arctic.

Among their findings: Rather than finding newly formed ice to be two metres thick, « we measured ice thickness up to four metres, » stated a spokesperson for the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research of the Helmholtz Association, Germany’s largest scientific organization.

The path-breaking project broke new ground by employing the Polar 5, a fixed-wing aircraft, rather than a helicopter with its more limited range. The Polar 5 not only landed in the Arctic ice, it towed a device called EM-Bird on an 80 metre-long rope 20 metres above the ice surface. The EM-Bird conducts electromagnetic (EM) induction sounding for ice thickness measurements.

The thickest ice that the expedition found was at Ellesmere Iceland, where thicknesses often exceeded 15 metres.