2007 Expedition

23 September - 10 October 2007

Longyearbyen - Greenland - Iceland

Including Vikram Seth, Marcus Brigstocke, Amy Balkin, Liam Frost, Brian Jungen

In September 2007, Cape Farewell launched our first youth expedition and fourth Art/Science Expedition. Each expedition was spectacular and unique in its own way -  the Youth Expedition took twelve students from the UK, Germany and Canada to Svalbard in the Norwegian Arcticto complete landmark art and science projects.

The 2007 Art/Science Expedition was an epic journey sailing over 1800 nautical miles and encountering gale force nine winds. Taking almost three weeks the expedition brought together twenty artists, writers, musicians, comedians and scientists from seven countries around the world, from Australia to Japan, India and the Sahara. This team helped sail the schooner through the seas that hold the key to understanding changes in our weather patterns and climate.

The Expedition 

The crew attempted to sail the 78th parallel towards the east coast of Greenland and then south to Scoresby Sund - the world’s largest fjord. However, due to extreme weather and unusual levels of pack ice driven south from the Pole – the Noorderlicht left the 78th parallel after a few days and took a south-westerly route towards Scoresby Sund.

It was an extremely tough crossing, encountering increasing levels of ice as the team neared Scoresby Sund. On arrival the ice proved too thick to navigate and the team were forced to sail further south visiting smaller fjords, including Turner Sund and Knighton Fjord - an area of Greenland rarely visited. The Noorderlicht completed the expedition by crossing the Denmark straights and arriving in the port of Akureyri, North Iceland after 17 days sailing on 10 October 2007.

Visit the expedition website to view an interactive map ofthe journey, plotted in text, images, sound and video broadcast back by satelite directly from the deck of the Noorderlicht during the expedition.
Follow the expedition on the map ›

The Science 

The expedition produced important new scientific data, monitoring the north Atlantic and East Greenland currents. This included:

  • Research in two 160-mile tracts measuring the temperature and salinity of both the Gulf Stream (Norwegian Current) and the Greenland Current to a depth of 200m. The Gulf Stream seems robust but the team recorded temperatures of 6oC at a depth of 120m
  • Measuring the polar and glacial ice melt; enormous ice flows were encountered off the coast of Greenland at a position 150 miles further south than recently recorded. 2007 saw the Northern ice cap melt by 25% and there was a strong indication of an accelerated ice melt from the Greenland ice cap
  • Launching an ARGO float in the Greenland sea, the float sinks to depths of 200m before rising to the surface recording temperature, salinity and density.  The data is then sent via satellite to the British Oceanographic Centre and accessible across the world via the met office website. It will be tracked for approximately three years.

The science crew onboard included Dr Simon Boxall from the National Oceanography Centre, Marine and Coastal Geoscientist Dr Carol Cotterill and Oceanographer Emily Venables

The Art

The creative team assisted the scientists in gathering the data and engaging in the wider scientific discussion to gain an understanding of how climate change is effecting this Arctic wilderness.

Whilst in East Greenland, the crew spent time exploring Sunds, participating in artistic projects and experiencing the rare phenomenon of a Snap Freeze (rapid freezing of the surrounding waters). Musician Liam Frost recorded songs on the ice and comedian Marcus Brigstocke and Vikram Seth went swimming in the Arctic seas. Visual artist Beth Derbyshire recorded the final part of her Anthem trilogy whilst David Buckland created visuals which were exhibited in Chicago in November 2007.

This expedition was the broadest team of artists Cape Farewell has ever taken to the Arctic. Seven nationalities were represented, including artists from non-English speaking countries: the Toureg singer, Aminatou Goumar from Niger and the theatre and installation artist, Shiro Takatani from Japan. Since their return, all have worked hard on the dissemination of their experience.