Wilderness First Aid Training

Preparations for the remoteness of the next expedition location includes specialist training in first aid on a course that has been arranged for the weekend of 1st & 2nd June in Derbyshire.

The course is being provided exclusively tailored to ensure that the team members all have the capability of handling injury situations with calmness and knowledge, that will maximise the opportunity for survival until more sophisticated medical treatment can be accessed.

Training will include dealing with scenarios such as bear attack and firearm injuries, as well as cold water immersion and frostbite.  There are still severe implications for any ‘normal’ injuries such as fractures and deep cuts when at significant distance and time away from professional medical assistance and resources.

More support for ARG

Significant efforts are now needed to secure as much support for the expedition as possible. The current needs are the same as usual – funds, food and resources. Thankfully there are businesses that recognise both the opportunity for themselves and the opportunity for scientific research that the ARG provides.

Premier Foods have generously provided support that will allow us to purchase appropriate dehydrated and freeze dried provisions to take with us.

Batchelors have kindly donated sufficient dried potato powder that will provide us with enough for one set of meals for the entire expedition.

Grant funds received

Members of the ARG have now received additional grant funding towards the 2019 research expedition to Svalbard. Whilst additional funds are still needing to be secured, this is a very welcome input to the expedition groups finances.

William Shaw has been awarded £1000 by the Sheffield University Volunteering Fund to support him going on the expedition.

Prof. George Shaw has also been awarded £750 by the Percy Sladen Memorial Fund of the Linnean Society of London to support his research project on the climate change impacts of receeding ice masses.

Expedition Leader, Steve Staley noted “We’re really grateful to both Sheffield University and the Linnean Society of London for their support. Without such grants the expeditions we carry out would not be able to take place. There is work still to be done to achieve our fundraising goal and we hope that these grants will be followed by further support from generous donors”.

International Research Collaboration

ARG has been approached regarding a collaboration with Igor Tolstikhin, Senior Scientist at the Geological Institute, Kola Scientific Centre, Russian Academy of Sciences.  Igor is a celebrated international geochemist and recipient of the EAG Urey Award in 2013.  Igor is also co-Author of the publication ‘The Evolution of Matter: from the Big Bang to the Present Day’.

Igor has asked the ARG to collect additional geochemical samples on our 2019 expedition in conjunction with our own project.  The subsequent analyses carried out by Igor and his research team would be shared with us so that a collective report can be produced and possibly a paper written for submission for publication.

“This is an excellent opportunity and a privilege for ARG to be asked to collaborate in this way” commented Expedition Leader Dr. Stephen Staley, he continued “This is the scientific community working and communicating well together thanks to Research in Svalbard where Igor found our project”.

International collaboration is essential in tackling climate change

Up, up and away

Drone practice – first flight
All images in this post ©William Shaw

With perfect weather and an ideal location the deferred drone training and evaluation at last took place on one of the moors of the Derbyshire Peak District National Park. Expedition members Prof. Graeme (George) Shaw, William Shaw and Mike Haynes took the Mavic Pro drone out onto the moors and found a secluded spot from which to conduct practice flights.

“It was amazing how instantly we were able to operate the drone, the technology is fantastic” commented George. The practice flights soon established that the drone gave the opportunity to significantly increase the range of the research studies and save on the amount of time taken to cover the ground.

“I expect that the images and video we will be able to capture in the Arctic with the Mavic Pro, will deliver an extra dimension to our record of the expedition” noted William as he easily flew the drone for the first time.

Planning each flight in detail will be essential to maximise the imagery that can be captured within the limitations of the drone battery life. Recharging the batteries will also need planning into the expedition schedule.

Smiles all round

Henry Staley on his first Arctic expedition:

“I feel very lucky to be invited on this expedition to Svalbard. This amazing opportunity will be a challenging but rewarding experience and hopefully a gateway to further expeditions around the world. I am particularly excited to have the chance to become involved in research regarding plastic pollution. Hopefully this will improve our understanding of the issue and help to affect a change in our daily use of plastic”.

As medical officer, Henry will be providing medical support to the team. “Expedition medicine is of huge interest to me and I am thrilled to have been given this position.  I will also be conducting research into the changes in oral hygiene habits on an expedition, and this will be a relevant piece of research for my studies as a dental student”. 


And Here is the News

Two recent interviews on BBC Local Radio have meant the forthcoming ARG expedition is now better publicised and the projects more widely known and understood.

Arctic Tern entangled

On Tuesday, Steve Staley and Chris Searston both gave a live interview for BBC Radio Nottingham and discussed the challenges of research work in the Arctic, including attack from Polar Bear, the need to raise funds as a charity and the plans for the 2019 expedition, then Wednesday saw Ian Frearson delivering an account to BBC Radio Derby on the background and make up of the ARG together with details of the 2019 expedition projects. Ian described the projects and highlighted the dramatic effects of pollution on wildlife in the Arctic.

Solid Support

Without a firm foundation the best of plans will almost certainly struggle and most will fail. It is not surprising that the smallest of elements may prove to be most important so it is with great delight that the Tarpaulins Direct company have agreed to help us with a much needed tarpaulin sheet for our Base Camp tent.

Click on the image

A spokesperson today agreed the donation that will provide a sound and comfortable base on the frozen tundra and on which the members will sleep.

Rachel McGuigan, Customer Service Manager said ” We’re happy to help. Can you just confirm exactly what size you need? We have something like a 5m x 5m, would that suffice? “

Fundraising Push

ARG members are to write to the top companies in the region seeking support or sponsorship to help fund this years’ expedition.  Timed to coincide with a local radio interview and focussed on the Midlands region, the group are looking to secure further expedition sponsors.

Climate change and plastic pollution are increasingly significant problems for humanity.  Unless this generation takes urgent action, they will affect us and each successive generation.

You can be part of the solution too if you’re prepared to support those working as volunteers to carry out scientific research that will help to find it.

Hundreds of letters are to be written

Newest members thoughts

“Being invited on this expedition is a chance that maybe only occurs once in a lifetime and it is a dream come true for me.  Growing up seeing all the photos and maps from my Dad’s various expeditions with the Arctic Research Group during 30 years, I’ve always wanted to go and explore this rare place.

William Shaw

This expedition will not only give me experience with research and exploration, while also looking outstanding on any application for jobs or post-grads.  But it is also a fleeting chance to see the high arctic in its undisturbed state before factors like climate change, pollution and increased shipping traffic begin to damage this rare place even more”.

William Shaw

Training weekend deferred

Responding to a set of circumstances topped off by a forecast of rain showers and strong winds – that would preclude flying the drone – as well as the unexpected unavailability of several members, the decision was taken to defer the training weekend to a later date. The opportunity wasn’t wasted as members focussed on other tasks of planning and fundraising.

Boots remain hanging until another day

Research in Svalbard

Links to Approved Projects provided below

You can check out our approved projects on the Research in Svalbard website. We’ve provided URL links below to make it quick and simple to find them.

Collection & Assessment of macro-plastic and other beach Pollution (CAP)
https://researchinsvalbard.no/project/9021

Early Colonisation of High Arctic Substrates Exposed by glacier retreat (eCHASE)
https://researchinsvalbard.no/project/8023

Geochemical Investigation of warm Springs (GIS)
https://researchinsvalbard.no/project/7924

Collection Of fossilised remains of Devonian Fish (COF)
https://researchinsvalbard.no/project/7377

Search for And Recovery Of Meteorites (SAROM)
https://researchinsvalbard.no/project/8020

Expedition receives approval

The Sysselmann and the Svalbard authorities have given final approval for the planned research of the 2019 ARG Expedition. The programme of research includes five main activities which are studies on plastic pollution, climate change, interstellar geology, terrestrial geology and remote videography by drone.

Expedition plans approved

While expecting the approval, the expedition members have been putting significant efforts and much of their spare time into applications for grants and making approaches to organisations and businesses, to secure the necessary income to fund the 2019 expedition.

“Receiving the go ahead from the Sysselmann is brilliant news” commented ARG group leader Ian Frearson “The hard miles have to be put in now to secure the funding and make the necessary preparations for the expedition”.

Training weekend set for early March

Members of the 2019 expedition will be out in the Peak District National Park putting themselves and their equipment through its paces during a training session set for early March. Whilst fundraising is key to achieving the maximum return out of the expedition research, the team working together on fitness and Arctic capabilities, as well as developing familiarity with the technical equipment that they will be using, is also essential. The session will include in particular, practice flying of the drone to explore the techniques required to deliver the maximum from the extended research scope the drone is expected to help realise.

Drone training for expedition members

Ollie Hartas of Hartas Productions – sports videography – very generously flew to the UK from his home in Sweden recently to spend a day training the expedition members in flight and operation of the Mavic Pro drone that will be used on this years’ expedition. The drone will provide additional input to each of the expedition projects as well as aerial video of the expedition activities and the stunning scenery of the high arctic landscape. “Flying the drone is so intuitive and it is so precisely controllable, with high definition video & still imagery, that it clearly will allow us to add significantly to our research”. Commented expedition leader Steve Staley.

Mavic Pro drone