The Catlin Arctic Survey

The Catlin Arctic Survey is an international collaboration between polar explorers and some of the world’s foremost scientific bodies. It seeks to resolve one of the most important environmental questions of our time:

How long will the Arctic Ocean's sea ice cover remain a permanent feature of our planet?

This scientific endeavour began on 28th February 2009. The expedition is being led by highly experienced polar explorer Pen Hadow. Accompanying him will be Ann Daniels, one of the world's foremost female polar explorers and Martin Hartley, leading expedition photographer.

  Pen Hadow
Ann Daniels
Martin Hartley

The team are travelling on foot, hauling sledges from 81°N 130°W, across 1000-km of disintegrating and shifting sea ice, for around 100 days, in temperatures from 0ºC down to -50°C.

Background Highlights

Essential data:

Despite the technological advances of the 20th century, we still only have estimates of the thickness of the sea ice cover on the Arctic Ocean. Travelling across the sea ice, the Catlin Arctic Survey team is taking detailed measurements of its thickness and density. This will enable the programme’s Science Partners to determine, with a greater degree of accuracy, how long the sea ice will remain. Currently, its predicted meltdown date is anywhere between four and a hundred years from now.

Global significance:

The melting of the sea ice will accelerate climate change, sea level rise and habitat loss on a global scale. Its loss is also a powerful indicator of the effects of human activity on our planet’s natural systems and processes. The Survey’s scientific findings will be taken to the national negotiating teams working to replace the Kyoto Protocol agreement at the UN Climate Change Conference of Parties in Copenhagen in December 2009.

Measuring systems old and new:

The Catlin Arctic Survey uses more than 30 different methods of measuring and directly observing the conditions of the floating sea ice and snow, designed in collaboration with our scientific partners. These range from long-established techniques for ice-drilling, to pioneering communications systems.

The Catlin Arctic Survey has developed and tested an experimental and portable, ice-penetrating radar. This will take detailed measurements of both the snow and ice layers along the route.

Satellite communications equipment, developed specifically for this project, will allow the survey team to transmit their unfolding story directly from the ice to a global audience.

Contact Details

0845 872 6130,
[email protected]
Catlin Arctic Survey,
88 Leadenhall Street,

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