• Svalbard | © Alex Stead

About the Climate Change Polar Summit

This highly transformative trip aims to have participants disembark as informed ambassadors for the imperiled Arctic ecosystem and the protection it so sorely requires. Whether joining as an academic, photographer, captain of industry, wordsmith or simply as an avid devotee of the natural world, your time in the frozen north will provide valuable insights and hands-on experience that will inform and inspire.

The aim is not just for you to witness the effects of climate change first-hand, but to share your story, and communicate with the global community in the medium that resonates with you most. We hope too that your time in the Arctic will encourage personal action towards carbon-neutral solutions, conservation projects, and sustainable choices that can lead to a healthier future for our planet.

Leading this climate-focused expedition is photographer and polar explorer Martin Hartley. Martin has spent the last 16 years documenting the Arctic Ocean, his favourite place, and possibly the most hostile and difficult location on earth to practice photography. During the trip he will share details of his past expeditions and provide an insight into his project The Last Ice Sentinel in early 2020. This project will document the last of the oldest remaining sea ice in the Arctic Ocean, before it is lost forever to global warming.

Martin will be recently returned from this polar expedition, meaning you will be among the first people to engage on these issues and share in Martin’s most recent discoveries.Throughout your trip Martin will host seminars and discussions on his past expeditions and experiences, as well as his findings from The Last Ice Sentinel Project. Martin will also be there throughout your trip to offer advice and mentoring on Arctic photography.

Glacier, Svalbard | © Chase Teron

Aside from Martin’s polar expertise and discoveries, your Expedition Leaders, Dr Alex Cowan and Lauren Farmer, will be on hand to oversee scientific data collection. This data will support a number of projects, including:

  • Happywhale – whale sighting observation recordings.
  • NASA Globe Observer – observing and recording cloud cover timed to NASA satellite flyovers.
  • Ice Watch – understanding and tracking the progression of sea ice melt.

As well as scientific discovery, this expedition will also focus on exploring the Arctic environment, passing through incredible landscapes far into the icy north for sightings of wildlife such as whales, walrus and of course the King of the Arctic, the polar bear. Perhaps more than any other animal, polar bears have come to represent the dangers of climate change. The sea ice environment is critical to them for travelling, mating and resting, and for hunting their ice-dependent prey. You will spend time in this environment, so critical to the survival of the polar bear, for a unique first-hand insight into the challenges that lie ahead for the species.

Download our Expeditions for Change brochure for further information on The Last Ice Sentinel Project.

Martin Hartley

Your Expedition Leader

Expedition photographer Martin Hartley has spent a quarter of a century photographing the Polar Regions. He has covered over 2,000 miles skiing on more than 20 separate polar expeditions, living for 400 days on the sea ice, including a mammoth 99-day crossing of the Arctic Ocean from Russia to Canada across the top of the planet. Accompanying both Pen Hadow and Sir Ranulph Fiennes on various polar expeditions, Martin has experienced it all.

Time Magazine has acknowledged Martin’s contribution to science with its prestigious Hero of the Environment award, for his research work on multiple surveys of the frozen Arctic Ocean. His efforts to document sea ice cover and ocean acidification have taken him on a plethora of hard-fought journeys across the Arctic and Antarctic. There are few polar photographers with more established credentials; few adventurers who have travelled further in the world's most extreme environments; and few with the same intimate understanding of the threats facing the Arctic.

“We’re on the brink, and once we go over the edge we’ll never come back.”

– Martin Hartley, December 2018

Selected Projects Supported by This Expedition

It is our goal that this trip will provide a full insight into the impact of climate change on the Arctic environment, with the opportunity to meet and speak with scientists conducting critical research. Each passenger's participation in this trip will contribute towards our fundraising target of $40,000. This fund will then be donated to a number of scientific projects, some of which are introduced below. In addition, passengers will be able to participate in hands-on collection of data, contributing in a tangible way to the research.

Svalbard Social Science Initiative (SSSI)

A lecture-style discussion will be held on the evening of your arrival by an SSSI staff member. This will be your chance to raise questions about climate change in the polar north, and how the SSSI are reacting to the crisis. Information gathered both pre- and post-trip will be key in understanding the local and wider-reaching impacts of climate change.

Polar Bears International (PBI)

Another informal lecture scheduled prior to embarkation will be led by a PBI staff member. This will be your chance to learn about polar bear conservation and the kind of scientific projects that the PBI works on, including population studies, maternal den studies, and body condition projects. 

NASA Globe Observer

Clouds affect how much sunlight is being absorbed by the earth and how much heat is escaping back into space. By observing and recording cloud cover timed to NASA satellite flyovers, we can help scientists understand how surface and air temperatures are affected by cloud cover, and how clouds will respond to a changing climate.

International Arctic Research Centre’s Ice Watch, Norwegian Ice Service

This mostly Arctic-based project helps to understand and track the progression of sea ice melt in summer. Observations of the age, type and topography of sea ice are collected and submitted to the open-source Ice Watch ASSIST Data Network. Ice Watch is an international collaborative programme that coordinates Arctic-wide visual sea ice observations, collected from ships operating in ice-covered seas of the Northern Hemisphere.

Asian elephants, Myanmar | © Charlie Scott

Interested in making a difference?

Contact a member of our team for your chance to join us on an Expedition for Change.