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Scientific Expedition in the Arctic Circle

March 13, 2017.Charley.1 Like.0 Comments
“I will go anywhere, provided it be forward.”David Livingstone

Introduction

My next big project is a scientific expedition going through the Arctic Circle by dogsleds during the last week of March. I am very excited !!! 😉

So why this crazy idea of going in the middle of nowhere, when the day light is only few hours a day and the maximum temperature is by -20°C and below (the coldest I have ever been)? Well, first to challenge myself and secondly to participate to a cause that concern all of us, Global Warming.

The expedition’s purpose is to study and eventually educate people across the globe about the micro effects global warming is having on our culture, lifestyle and day to day activities. As part of a small team, we will go with a Geography graduate and teacher Nigel Garner, responsible for the research project. We will explore up to 500km by dogsleds, high into the Mountains and deep into the National Park of Sarek (Sweden) to gather weather data (record the snow, ice and weather conditions) in order to compare actual measurements with prediction and records from the closest weather station’s data.

The journey is organised by Mel Andrews and all the gear and the trained dogs will be provided by the MAD House Husky Tour company.

But.. what will be my role?
Everyone on the expedition will be given a role they are responsible for in addition to being a team member and looking after the dogs, camp and each other. We will be four people, there will be the guide (Mel), Nigel our scientist a doctor and me responsible for the radio communication. Some of the tasks will be to ensure we maintain comms between the team and base camp and to give base camp regular updates or the teams location, plan and condition and to receive weather warnings etc. I am also preparing myself on making a documentary of the all trip.

Follow my progress below 😉

How to support the expedition?

We are currently reaching out to sponsors to donate a specific list equipments that will allow us to achieve successfully the expedition (such as communication systems – walkie talkie, phones – GPS devices, etc). These companies will need to see the impact of giving us material for free (for example they are looking the number of followers on social media pages).

So by writing that you are interested by the Event MAD Expedition – March 2017 you can be a huge help to us. Plus, you will be able to follow our updates by liking the page MAD Husky Tours.

Please share this message on your wall and invite people to follow the adventure! The more support we get and the more chance to succeed we will have.  😉

And again, a big thank you everyone for supporting us!

Location of the expedition

Logbook

Searching for sponsorships

Update – 10th of March 2017:

It is true that searching for sponsorship is time-consuming and can be very frustrating but it is also incredibly rewarding. Thus I will start by sharing some conclusions from my own researches:

When contacting a company via email or phone, start immediately by giving the reason why your current project will benefit the brand. In my case, the expedition will occur in extreme temperatures (in average -20ºC), that a perfect environment to test technological equipments. In the case of GoXtreme, I noticed that they didn’t have much content in snowy environments so that was another opportunity. If your project if for charity, the company can add it to their Corporate Social Responsibility plan.

Then explain your project, the more detail you can provide the better. Finally, make your demand and right explicitly what you are looking for (money or equipment) and the quantities needed.

You will probably be more lucky will smaller company than bigger ones, nevertheless this shouldn’t stop you from reaching out the latest ones, we never know ! 😉

 

And now the amazing news!!! We received the sponsorship of GoXtreme which will support us with 2 of their action cameras. Thanks to them we will be able to take incredible images of the snowy mountains of Northern Sweden while riding.

The glamorous  GoXtreme Black Hawk 4K records ultra high definition videos at 170º view, presenting full feature set among which 360º panorama, burst pictures, time-lapse, a smartphone and tablet application for remote control of the camera, and more! I will be wearing this camera on my chest or on my front head to give an immersive experience of dogsledding.

 

The innovative GoXtreme Full Dome 360° provides a complete Virtual Reality experience with 5MB videos and pictures capabilities. Here again the smartphone application is genius, and gives the freedom to make incredible movies. We are planning to put the 360 camera on a sled, with the VR glasses this will give a spectator the impression to be part of the expedition.

 

Here is an initial test of the Full Dome 360 camera the streets of the city of Amsterdam:

October 2016

IMG_0239-2

One key point for the expedition is to find sponsorships. Vendors that will give us for free material needed during the expedition. We are principally looking for communication and GPS devices in order to keep team members in contact and also to give regular updates to the base camp. As we want to document our journey, I am also looking for action cameras, 360 cameras and even a drone! I will take my Sony a6000 personal camera with me to take videos.

Now with extreme cold conditions, one of the main challenge for electronics are the batteries. Currently I am still looking for solutions to reload the batteries and protect them from the cold using external batteries, solar, wind or even hand power dynamo.

Why would a vendor be interested?
Mainly because that is a way for them to try out they equipment in extreme conditions and receive documentation such as video and photo from how well they device did in real testing conditions. They also participate in a project for the good of everyone which is a great sales pitch.

And this is the reason I went to IFA, a trade show for consumer electronics in Berlin where hundreds of companies (among the biggest) come to show case their latest products to the public. Visitor tickets are only 13 euros and it definitely worth the price!

I spent an intense day there looking for sponsors, but it paid off at the end as a dozen of vendors I talked with seemed interested and I already received updates from some of them. It was also a great experience as I watched or experimented some new technologies. Check out the videos below for some examples!

Videos from the IFA show
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Videos from the IFA show

  • IFA Spider - This little independent robot was fun watching!
    IFA Spider - This little independent robot was fun watching!
  • IFA Webcam - One of the technology I was the most impressed was this kind of echo cam.
    IFA Webcam - One of the technology I was the most impressed was this kind of echo cam.
  • IFA Waterproof Speaker - Vendors were putting out a lot of effort to create very interesting show
    IFA Waterproof Speaker - Vendors were putting out a lot of effort to create very interesting show

How to dress for an Arctic Destination?

When heading to an extremely cold destination such as above the Arctic Circle (below -20ºC), the recommendation is to get the proper gear in order to avoid suffering or loosing a toe. During the expedition I am taking part, we will spend 7 days in the mountains potentially facing snow and winds without the possibility to get to a warm shelter. Dogsledding is physical and it means that we will be sweating, if the clothing doesn’t evacuate the perspiration we will end up wet and then cold, so dressing adequately is vital. Do not be worried, I am know explaining what you will need to take with you! 🙂

The most important concept to stay warm is to dress with several layers. Each layer is trapping air between each layer that stay warm; moreover have it’s own function that I am describing below. Never ever use cotton, this is a material that will trap your sweat!

Base layer:

Generally long-sleeved t-shirt and bottoms layer as close as possible from the body. This layer need to provide warmth while allowing the perspiration to evacuate so it does not stay in contact with the skin. The best material is the Merino Wool or thermal material.

Insulating/Mid layer:

A mid layer composed of fleece (polyester) or a thick jumper is perfect to provide ventilation while keeping warm. For the the bottom layer, choose some made of breathable materials such as polyester. Sport trousers are perfect to keep you warm and ventilated.

Outer Layer:

The main purpose of the last layer is to be water resistant and windproof. Water resistance is rated in mm (the height before the water would start to leak through); since I would face extreme conditions I chose clothes with a rating of 20,000mm+ that would keep me protected from melting snow. The layer need also to be breathable; some of the most famous technologies are Gore-Tex or WINDSTOPPER.  For the top, you may choose either a Hard Shell (consisting of an insulating layer and windproof layer, for example a padded ski jacket) or a Down Jacket (I chose a 600+)/thick jumper and a Soft Shell (windproof layer). For the bottom same thing, I chose padded ski trousers.

For cold days, the expedition team will provide Arctic Suit and Arctic overboots to give extra warmth.

Accessories:

For the feet, the hands and the head the same concepts apply. You will need to dress with 2 or 3 layers and choose materials keeping you warm, protecting you from the wind and the rain while being breathable. Merino Wool, Fleece and Gore-Tex are the top materials.

Where to buy?

I found most of the itms in dedicated shops such as Bever, Perry. Do not hesitate to put the price for some of the gear such as the base layer, the shell, the socks and hands as it can make a big difference. Some brand that I bought from were Ice Breaker, Bart, Colombia. For cheaper outdoor clothing, Decathlon or online shopping is a great choice.

When to buy?

I found that the end of the Winter season is perfect to benefit from massive discounts.

Budget:

If you are planning to invest in each of the equipment listed above, a minimum budget of 500-700 euros is sensible with an average of 60 to 70 euros per items.

Photograph Copyright: MADhuskytours.com

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