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Women-Powered Science & Exploration

National Geographic Emerging Explorer Gregg Treinish founded Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation, a nonprofit organization connecting outdoor adventurers with scientists in need of data from the field. He also organizes his own expeditions, contributing to research on wildlife-human interaction, fragmented habitats, and threatened species. 

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Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation (ASC) is dedicated to connecting passionate adventure athletes and explorers around the world with opportunities to protect the places they love to play. One of our upcoming expedition partners, Shifting Ice and Changing Tides, is a perfect example of how ASC enables passionate adventurers to incorporate valuable conservation objectives into their exploration.

Shifting Ice and Changing Tides is a women-led, human and wind-powered expedition from Iceland to the glaciers on the west coast of Greenland to ski first descents and support conservation research. The team is made up of McKenna Peterson, Nat Segal, Meghan Kelly, Pip Hunt, Martha Hunt and Andy Bardon, many of them professional skiers.

McKenna writes:

Shifting Ice and Changing Tides is a ski and sail expedition to the west coast of Greenland. In this remote, fascinating and beautiful region, we will be exploring and skiing first descents while limiting our environmental footprint by sailing and climbing. The expedition serves as a platform for raising awareness about climate change and environmental issues as well as for inspiring and promoting female participation in snow sport adventures.

Nat Segal, Shifting Ice member and Freeride World Tour compititor, is headed to Greenland to help researchers better understand the impacts of climate change while ticking off first descents. Photo by Emily Polar.

Our expedition was born in 2013 after participating in SheJumps’ Alpine Finishing School; an all female ski mountaineering course in Canada’s Selkirk Mountains. As a group, we wanted to do something that would inspire others, especially young women, to form a connection with the outdoors while igniting a passion for the environment.

ASC has helped us to bridge the gap between what we know — adventure and exploration — and what we are passionate about: science and the health of our environment.

The Shifting Ice crew consists of professional skiers, yachtsmen and photographers — adventurers and passionate environmentalists, yes, but not researchers or PhD students. So, how can we help? This is where ASC came into the picture. ASC has helped us to bridge the gap between what we know — adventure and exploration — and what we are passionate about: science and the health of our environment.

While sailing across the Denmark Strait from Iceland to Greenland, our team will be collecting surface water samples for ASC’s Marine Microplastics project. Microplastics are prevalent in our oceans, with greater than 85% of the samples previously collected for this project showing contamination. The samples that we collect in the Denmark Strait will help researchers to better understand the source, composition and distribution of microplastics in this area and will contribute to a larger, global microplastics dataset. We will also be collecting sea ice samples during our voyage. These samples will be used to help understand the past extent of sea ice cover and help researchers better predict what will happen to sea ice under a changing climate.

The northern lights over Greenland. Photo courtesy of greenland.com.

Once we reach the West coast of Greenland, we will begin collecting snow and ice samples from the glaciers on which we will be skiing first descents. The snow and ice samples will be used to map the distribution of organic pollutants and understand their connection to climate change and glacier melt. The potential to find pollutants within a remote snowpack that had preciously never been touched by a human is a powerful and informative image.

Having the opportunity to partner with ASC and assist with these research projects enhances our expedition. The entire Shifting Ice team is excited to see how our findings impact current environmental research. We will use adventure and exploration to bring back a story that is compelling enough to grab the attention of the general audience. Within our story we will show, teach, and bring awareness to the serious impact climate change is having on our planet. We are hoping to reach as many eyes and ears as possible, so that we can make an impact and influence change.

More information about the expedition on ASC’s blog, at shiftingice.org and at their indiegogo campaign. Keep up with ASC by liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter (@AdventurScience)Instagram (@AdventureScience) and Google+.

NEXTHardened Alpinists Don’t Complain