Polar Kayaker Lewis Pugh Could Have Gone Further…in 1979!

What’s worse than a gimmick?

A trip to the Cryosphere Today’s archive can reveal evidence that Lewis Gordon Pugh’s “achievement” of having “kayaked to within 1,000 km (620 miles) of the North Pole to highlight a rapid shrinking of Arctic ice” has really been no achievement at all.

In fact, had he tried the same in 1979, he may have actually gone a little further.

Sea Ice 2008 09 06
Sea Ice 2008 09 06
Sea Ice 1979 09 05
Sea Ice 1979 09 05

The following is an animated comparison of the sea ice status around the Svalbard. Remember: the one with MORE ice around those islands is the image from 2008, not 1979.

1979 09 05 Svalbard
1979 09 05 Svalbard
2008 09 06 Svalbard
2008 09 06 Svalbard

I chose 1979 because of course it is the first year of complete satellite observations of polar sea ice extension, and by luckly chance the year when the aforementioned extension was the largest ever recorded (by satellite).

There’s more than could be said about the differences between September 1979 and September 2008 (a large part of the sea ice loss appears to concern Northeastern Siberia, i.e. the East Siberian Sea). For now one can only guess why the Polar Defense Project chose to kayak in the Greenland Sea, where the anomaly in September 2008 from the 1979-2000 mean is close to zero (as evident in the animated picture above).

One wonders if Mr Pugh had any intention to reach the North Pole…otherwise, the judgement of whoever helped him plan his trip, must be seriously questioned. There was and still there is simply no indication whatsoever that a Svalbard-North Pole passage will open this decade or next.