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  • 1 May 2007

Student Alice’s Disko challenge: explore climate change

Arctic role: Alice Horton prepares for her expedition to Disko Island

Arctic role: Alice Horton prepares for her expedition to Disko Island

First-year biology student Alice Horton 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.

Alice, 18, from Hampshire, will complete her first year at Sussex before joining 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 six-week trip begins July 12.

The expedition is one of several trips organised annually by the British Schools Exploring Society (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.

The expedition has special significance this year, as 2007 is designated an International Polar Year, promoting scientific cooperation around the world.

Alice, who spotted an advertisement calling for applicants for the trip in a magazine she picked up while visiting Sussex as a prospective student, 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 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, who is a keen snowboarder and rock-climber, will also be expected to carry half her bodyweight - around 25kg - of kit during the expedition, so is planning to get in training. She says: "We have been strongly advised to train for the expedition. I've decided 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 Student Union shop."

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. 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."

Notes for editors

  • BSES Expeditions is a youth development charity that organises challenging scientific expeditions to remote, wild environments. It aims to develop the confidence, teamwork, leadership and spirit of adventure and exploration of all expedition members. It was founded in 1932 by Commander Murray Levick RN, a survivor of Captain Scott's Antarctic expedition of 1910-13.  See:
  • If you would like to make a donation towards Alice's trip, please contact Maggie Clune in the University of Sussex Press office.

University of Sussex Press office contacts: Maggie Clune or Jacqui Bealing. Tel: 01273 678 888 or email


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