UK team attempt Antarctic record

Tuesday 30th Nov 2010 by theWeather Club

It seems that the current British winter with its arctic winds and drifting snow, just isn’t wintry enough for some. A British team of explorers, mechanics and scientists has arrived in Antarctica ahead of an attempt to cross the frozen continent by land. The Moon Regan Transantarctic Expedition hopes to establish a new record for the crossing and will conduct a range of scientific experiments en route. But perhaps the main scientific mission will be to test the efficiency of bio-fuels at extreme temperature. "Bio-fuels are an interesting opportunity for the future," said Dr Robin North of Imperial College London, who has been working closely with the expedition. "We're fuelling the Winston Wong Bio-Inspired Ice Vehicle on bio-ethanol. It will be the first bio-fuelled vehicle at the pole.

The aim is to travel via the southern pole and the Transantarctic Mountain Range to McMurdo station by the end of November, spending some 40 days on the ice and travelling some 5,800 kilometres. Leading the explorers are Andrew Moon and Andrew Regan, who will cross the continent along with an assorted crew including mechanics and scientists. "Some of the crevasses can be a kilometre deep, so obviously if you go down one of those that's the end of it - there's no one to get you out," Andrew Regan told reporters, before the team departed for the South Pole. "This time we have a ground penetrating radar, so in the areas where the crevasse fields are, we'll go nice and slow and use the radar just to make sure. But crevasses are the biggest risk."

The group will also collect samples of snow to test for trace metals for tracking the passage of pollutants within the southern hemisphere. With human activity set to increase at both poles looking at alternatives to kerosene fuel is seen as a vital part of reducing the environmental impact of machine use at the polar regions in the future.