The team will fly to Qaanaaq, Greenland in February to kick-off the expedition

Tracing footsteps in the arctic

Alumni Oli Luscombe and Ed Cooper are part of an expedition team retracing the route of British explorer David Haig-Thomas through the Arctic.

The Haig-Thomas Expedition team will retrace the 400km route of British geographer and ornithologist David Haig-Thomas, seventy years after his well-documented trek through the Arctic. During the trip the team will conduct scientific research and socio-economic analysis whilst spending time with local Inuit communities.

The three team-members have been working hard to prepare for the undertaking. Ed (Economics and Politics 2009), expedition team leader, flew to Greenland in July 2014 to explore the area before their official expedition. He spent time with Greenlandic locals and witnessed traditional practises like Narwhal hunting for the first time. Alec Greenwell, great nephew of David Haig-Thomas is also on the expedition and he recently acquired a gun license to help ward of polar bears during their trek. Oli (International Relations 2010) is co-ordinating communications and social media and will act as the UK host agent during the expedition.

The team will fly to Qaanaaq, Greenland in February to kick off the expedition, documenting modern hunting culture and sustainable hunting methods in the area for a month. They will also support the University of Copenhagen’s ongoing ecological research in the “NOW” (North Water Polynya) region. Due to the developments that have occurred since the original expedition, part of the route that was originally traversed by David Haig-Thomas and his Inuit guide Nookap on foot in 1937-38 is no longer deemed feasible. They have decided to fly to Eureka in Canada to start their route to Haig Thomas Island. Once there, they hope to recover a note left under a cairn by David Haig-Thomas.

After reading about Professor Tim Lenton’s climate change research in EXETER Magazine - the University publication for alumni – the Haig-Thomas team got in touch with him to raise awareness of the 1937 expedition and to see if their own research might aid him. Tim is Chair in Climate Change at Earth System Science at the University, and he also leads a free online course about climate change. He recognised that data collected during David Haig-Thomas’ trip to Greenland in 1937 was a great opportunity to fill a gap in arctic climate knowledge pre-1965.

You can read a more detailed account on The Telegraph or on their website - You can also follow them on Twitter: @haigthomasexped.

“Tracks in the Snow” by David Haig-Thomas, detailing his journey, has been republished by the expedition and is available on Kindle. All proceeds go to the Children’s Cancer & Leukaemia Group (CCLG).

Date: 27 January 2015

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