A first-year Biology student has been selected to take part in an expedition this summer that will explore the effects of climate change 800 miles north of the Arctic Circle.
On 12 July Alice Horton will join a team bound for Qeqertarsuaq –also known as Disko Island – off the west coast of Greenland. There are no roads and only two small communities on the whole island.
The expedition is one of several trips organised annually by the youth development arm of the Royal Geographical Society, but this is the only time students have been offered the chance of visiting Disko Island.
The venture offers participants the chance to experience the breathtaking beauty of one of the world’s last great wildernesses and take part in scientific research into the effects of global warming on the region’s wildlife and glaciers.
Alice says: “The expedition will involve mountain and ice exploration and science projects. My group will be studying the island’s glacier, which is on the move. I want to see how climate change is affecting it. There’ll also be chances to study other interesting land formations and the wildlife too.”
During the six-week trip, Alice will enjoy crevasse-crossing and ice climbing and will be able to see humpback whales, fjords, valleys of orchids and wild blueberries, unexplored mountains and icebergs – all in 24 hours of daylight. She says: “Walking on the glacier in the midnight sun is going to be something special.”
Alice is a veteran of such adventures, having travelled the world with her family from an early age, including a trek to the Himalayas when she was 11.
A keen snowboarder and rock-climber, Alice will be expected to carry half her bodyweight – around 25kg – of kit during the expedition. She says: “We have been strongly advised to train for the expedition. I am going to wear a rucksack for a week, building up to 25kg, whenever I'm out and about. This will include going to lectures, going shopping in town, walking across the Downs or just popping to the Students’ Union shop.”
Her first challenge, however, is to raise £3,600 to pay for the trip. She has so far raised £2,300 in sponsorship, including donations from family and friends, but would be grateful for any further assistance. She says: “I’m hoping the sight of me yomping around campus will raise awareness of the expedition and encourage people to donate any spare change when they see me!”
She adds: “I’ve always been interested in biology, particularly ecological issues, which is why I wanted to come to Sussex – I liked the sound of the course. Climate change is one of the most important issues facing my generation, and I want to help find out more about it.”