Greenpeace ship sets sail to map sea ice and protect fragile Arctic

“Motley Crew” ship tour of Girl Guides, Chinese celebrities and scientists

Press release - 2012-06-30
Svalbard, Norway – The Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise will depart on Friday for a month-long expedition in the icy Arctic as part of the environment group’s new campaign to save the pristine region.

Carrying an international crew from every habitable continent including Girl Guides, Chinese celebrities, filmmakers, activists and Cambridge University scientists, the ship will depart from the remote Norwegian island Svalbard on June 29, for a two-leg sea voyage. The ship will be sailing in the Fram Strait between Svalbard and Greenland. 

“The Arctic Ocean is at threat from climate change, oil drilling and destructive fishing. It’s time to draw a line in the ice and say you come no further to destructive industries profiting from a rapidly changing Arctic. The Arctic needs protection, not industry,” said Frida Bengtsson, Arctic Campaigner for Greenpeace Nordic.

Greenpeace is campaigning for a global sanctuary to be declared around the uninhabited area of the North Pole. After one million people have signed the Arctic Scroll, Greenpeace will plant on the seabed at the North Pole, 4km beneath the ice, an Arctic Scroll containing the first one million names who sign up to the campaign. 

The spot will be marked by a Flag for the Future, designed by the world’s youth in a competition organised by the global Girl Guide movement. Two Girl Guides, Miryam Justo from Peru and Yvette Sena Blankson from Ghana, will now spend a week at sea on the Arctic Sunrise.

“The future of our world is in the hands of young people, especially girls and young women. We firmly believe that girls and young women must be at the centre of all policy and programme developments that aim to ensure our environment’s future,” said Nadine El Achy, Chairman, World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.

Demonstrating the Arctic is for everyone and not just for the Arctic states, Chinese pop singer Hu Haiquan, a member of the highly popular duet Yu Quan from China, will also be on board, as will popular social activist and columnist, Fred Lam, from Hong Kong.

In the second leg, starting on July 9, scientists led by Peter Wadhams of Cambridge University will work together with 3D scanning experts and engineers to capture the true shape of Arctic sea ice for the first time.

Using an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) to measure the underside of the ice and surface laser scanners to measure its top, the group will obtain 3D models of entire ice floes, including pressure ridges.

“The emphasis on pressure ridges is because these ice deformation features – which can be as much as 50 metres deep – contain about half of the ice in the Arctic, yet have been shrinking in numbers and thickness much faster than the ice as a whole,” said Wadhams.

“We need to see if they are melting, or disintegrating, or both.”

Greenpeace is launching its “Save the Arctic” ship tour as oil major Shell plans to begin exploratory drilling at two offshore sites in the Alaskan Arctic in coming weeks.

Besides the Arctic Sunrise Motley Crew tour, the Greenpeace ship the Esperanza will sail along the US Pacific Coast to shadow Shell’s operations.


Frida Bengtsson, Arctic Campaigner for Greenpeace Nordic, on board the Arctic Sunrise, +47 95281199
Jessica Wilson, Communications Manager, Greenpeace International, +44 7896 893 118
Aaron Gray-Block, Media Relations, Greenpeace International, +31 6 46 16 2026

Photos available from Greenpeace International, Alex Yallop on  +31 (0) 624 94 19 65
Videos available from Greenpeace International, Dannielle Taaffe on +31 20718 22472