When cold facts become chilling news

Shrinking pack ice
Shrinking pack ice

On April 6th 2015 Marc Cornelissen and Philip de Roo set out to Bathurst Island, Canada for a mission for Cold Facts, an initiative by Cornelissen. They set out on the pack ice in the Canadian high Arctic in an area where predictions say the summer sea ice will stay for the next decades, the area called ‘the last ice area’. They didn’t want to try a new route or be the first at an unexplored spot, they wanted to take measurements of the thickness of the sea ice. These measurements would be used to calibrate the ones made by the ESA’s CryoSat2 satellite. They probably had a good expedition and were nearly towards their intended end point. In the last voice message they said they had a good, but exceptionally hot day. They had pulled their sleds in their underwear as it was too hot for their normal clothes. The last thing they said was that they probably had to make a detour as they had a patch of very thin ice in front of them.

The next day (April 29th) an emergency signal was received by the Dutch base camp. Immediately a rescue plane was sent out from Resolute, but they only found two sleds, one on the ice, one in the water and the dog. No sign of Marc or Philip. Another plane with experienced spotters was sent to scout a larger area, unfortunately with the same result. Soon rescue missions became recovery missions. Due to difficult weather and ice conditions these missions were not possible for a while. Today (May 6th) a new recovery mission was sent out from Resolute, on snow scooter this time. Hopefully they will at least be able to bring their bodies back.

With Marc and Philip the world looses two very inspiring people. They set out on expeditions to the remotest places on earth to raise awareness for the fragile nature in those places and to do further research. They did so trying to be as climate neutral as possible, helping develop a bio-fuel that would work at the extreme temperatures they would work in. At home I had a chat with Philip now and then, discussing his new plans, or mine. At the end of those, always too short conversations I always had lot’s of new energy and ideas for new plans. Now no new chats will take place. The thin ice they set out to measure eventually killed them…

Philip and Marc, I’ll miss you…

Arjen Drost

Arjen is a Polar ecologist, nature photographer and full time expedition guide on expedition cruise ships in both Polar regions. With his pictures and stories he likes to show the beauty of these very fragile and threatened places.


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