News is filtering through that the Catlin Arctic Survey Expedition has been evacuated from the ice, less than half way to their intended destination. Details are strangely sketchy at their own website, but the operation takes two days and requires two aircraft - one to carry extra fuel.
So in the middle of May you can land an aeroplane on the sea ice nearly 500 kilometres south of the North Pole. Who knew?
Here are some other awareness-raising lessons about global warming from the Catlin crew and support team - a selection of quotes in their own words:
"All members of the Ice Team are healthy, with the exception of Pen’s tooth. Having sneaked some of his remaining birthday chocolate into his sledge, his tooth cracked when biting into it."
“I’m getting extremely frustrated with the stupidly cold temperatures that are making my life a misery, day after day."
"SPRITE, its pioneering Surface Penetrating Radar for Ice Thickness Establishment, and onboard sledge computer kit have, despite rigorous testing ahead of the expedition, both been disabled by the extreme conditions."
“The worst thing was I was trying so hard not to cry because I was wearing my sunglasses. They would have steamed up and then the steam freezes and I can’t see!”
"...the cold is all consuming and refuses to go away. I lie in my sleeping bag and close my eyes but it’s so bitterly cold that I’m always half-awake, shivering. All I can think of is that while I’m lying here we’re constantly drifting southwards... It’s soul destroying."
"If I am totally honest it is pretty horrid out here and not very nice but you just have to keep on going."
"The Catlin Arctic Survey Team have now been working in temperatures of below -40 degrees centigrade for more than 30 days. When the three leave messages... their voices often sound slurred and they occasionally muddle their words."
"Every living moment currently hurts for the Ice Team...Even the tent offers little sanctuary, since the team’s breath freezes to the tent inner overnight and they wake up entombed in a cavern of ice crystals."
"We’ve all chosen to be here and nobody’s complaining."