Mark shares his thoughts as he packs to head to the Cold Coast:
Hi, my name’s Mark and it’s late on Sunday night. I've just finished packing because tomorrow I'm going to the Arctic. I’ll be going to the Artic with the BBC Frozen Planet team, and I’ll be visiting a small island called Svalbard, which is actually Norwegian territory at about 80 degrees north, on the edge of the Arctic Ocean. It’s one of the closest islands you can actually get to the North Pole, but the North Pole’s still quite a way away. And to get to this island, Svalbard, I’ll have to fly up tomorrow to Oslo then get on another plane in Oslo which stops as it flies north along the coast of Norway, it’ll stop at Tromsø, then eventually after midnight tomorrow night I’ll arrive in Longyearbyen. Now as I said, I've just been packing, and it’s kind of funny because if I look at the amount of kit that I've had to take, it’s quite surprising.
The last trip I went on was a research trip down in Antarctica and that was almost three months in length, and if I compare the amount of kit I took for that trip and the amount of kit I'm taking for this trip, there’s almost the same pile. The only difference was when I went for the longer trip I took a couple more t-shirts, a couple more pairs of socks, another pair of trousers, that sort of thing. But apart from that, it’s pretty similar, and the reason is the temperature in Svalbard at this time of the year is about between -12 and -15 degrees C, that means I have to take my full polar kit, the same stuff I took down in the Antarctic. That kit is quite heavy because there’s quite a lot of layers to it. I have something called a base layer which is basically thermal underwear, then on top of that I have some over trousers, and then I have some fleece, light fleece jumpers which is called a mid-layer, over the top of my fleece jumper I put a thicker jumper and then over the top of trousers and my thicker jumper, and then a gortex layer on the outside, which basically keeps me windproof. So basically even though it’s -12, -15 degrees C, I’ll be cosy and warm all the way through. But that’s where all the weight is. And I haven’t mentioned my boots, my boots are actually quite heavy as well, because obviously cold feet is a pretty painful thing to deal with when you're in the polar regions, so I've got extra good boots. So basically the difference in kit that I'm taking for a week and three months is not really that much difference, and it’s taken ages to kind of fit it all into one bag so I can move it around easily.
So I’ll be leaving tomorrow morning quite early to go to Heathrow airport, and I'm kind of hoping I don’t get collared for any excess baggage, but we’ll see about that. And then over the course of the next week I’ll be on this island, Svalbard, I’ll be doing some filming, I’ll be visiting the University of Norway in Svalbard, I’ll be giving a science talk up there and talking to some of the scientists and researchers working in the region, and I’ll write about that, hopefully do some audio blog pieces and maybe even some video stuff from the Arctic when I get there. I hope to talk to you more later. Goodbye.
Free learning in the LearningSpace: Polar biology
The Open University is developing a course associated with The Frozen Planet. In the meantime, why not investigate Environment: Journeys Through A Changing World?