Source AP ©

Pen Hadow's arctic expedition postponed for year

British explorer Pen Hadow postpones the planned expedition to the North Pole by one year, putting back his ambition of surveying the thickness of the Arctic ice to 2009.

The trip was delayed because Hadow wanted to bring along more scientists, spokesman Rod Macrae said in a telephone interview. The addition of more researchers to the expedition requires a newer, more expansive research agenda, Macrae said.

That meant Hadow's team would miss their February to June window, the only time their planned 2,000-kilometer (1,240-mile) trek to the North Pole was possible, he said.

"It just takes a little time to get everybody onboard, and give more input into the way that the data is captured," he said. "It seemed to make sense to delay for a year so that the science can be more readily, more speedily and more widely used."

Hadow said in October that he wanted to carry out the most accurate survey of the thickness of the Arctic ice yet, dragging a sled-mounted, ground-penetrating radar by foot from Point Barrow in Alaska to the North Pole between February and June 2008. That timetable will now be pushed back to 2009, Macrae said, because the Arctic ice begins to melt after June.

Hadow said in October that he wanted to give scientists a better picture of the Arctic ice, enabling them to better track the impact of global warming on the earth's vulnerable pole.

This year saw record melting of the Arctic ice cap to 39 percent below the average minimum, causing experts to predict the Arctic Ocean would be ice-free in summer within 25 years.

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