Posted by Keith Reed
There were 30 members present. Mary Cherveny was the Winnetka Park District representative and Marc Hornstein was there for the Police Department.  Greg Nelson handled the “thought for the day”. Announcements were: We need about 13 volunteers to work 2 hours on June 24th for the Winnetka Music Fest and a sign-up sheet was passed; June 29 at 6:00 pm is our Installation Dinner for our new President Tom Nash; Patti found about 100 artful depictions of Winnetka “points of interests” in the Club’s closest and they are available for sale at $20 each, proceeds to go to local charities; Rich has worked out a program with a Southside Kiwanis Club where we will jointly provide 150 children’s  coats and 300 children’s books to three Chicago libraries where local children will visit to get their free coats; Robert Mardirossian offered 3 of his Chicago Cubs tickets for sale for $80 each with proceeds going to the WNRotary  Fund.
 
GUEST SPEAKER: David Birkenstein introduced Annie Aggens of  PolarExplorers who spoke of  her expeditions to the North Pole (hereafter “NP”) and the impact of global warming on the earth’s icecaps. Annie lives in Wilmette, attended North Shore Country Day School and graduated from Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa, majoring in environmental studies.  Over the years, she and her family have hosted several international exchange students, including  Rotary-sponsored students. PolarExplorers is  located in Wilmette and is considered the Nation’s premier polar expedition guiding company. It has been taking groups to the NP since 1993 and Annie has been involved in these trips since 2000.  Its website is www.polarexplorers.com for further information.
 
Annie said that the North Pole is still not owned by any country, but instead is considered  part of  the International Waters. Several countries, including the U.S., Russia and Norway, are making certain ownership claims since it has significant natural resources.  Admiral Robert Perry (or perhaps Mr. Cook) first visited the NP in 1909.  The exact spot of the NP (90 degrees) is difficult to locate because of the shifting ice and water. There is no permanent marker or any objects on the NP and visiting explorers take all their property and material with them when they leave. The overall ice cap consists of many different sizes of ice floating in water that is close to 14,000 feet deep. The ice pieces continue to move, break up and build up on the ice cap. Her expeditions always go in April which is about the only time a plane can land  at the NP base camp.  The base camp is owned and operated by the Russian Geographical Society, though the Russian military has used it for training in recent years. Annie said  the Russians are still friendly and cooperative. The expedition travels over the ice with skis  and  often times will have dogs to help with the trip. The group will usually travel 8-10 hours a day and cover 6 to 12 miles. On the NP there is only one sunset (in September) and one sunrise (in March). There sun shines continually during April.
 
She said that ice on the NP ages with the young ice being smooth and not as thick and the older ice  building up ridges of 1-15 feet, although they used to buildup as high as 30 feet. There are  water streams and ice cracks (“leads”) amid the frozen ice which continue to change and often times are tough to navigate. The travelers do have some floatable equipment to help cross narrow streams, but because the dogs do not like the cold water, they often have to go out of their way to avoid these streams or leads.  When dogs are used, there are usually 1 or 2 dog teams with 6-8 dogs in each team. The dogs are Greenland huskies, are very smart and powerful, but only answer to demands made in the  Norwegian language. Sometimes the skiers will pull special sleds which can hold up to 60-80 pounds of equipment and can float in the streams, if necessary. The only  animals seen on the NP besides the working dogs and an occasional fox are the polar bears and the ringed seals.
 
The impact of global warming on the NP over the last 40 years is that the ice cap is diminishing in size; much of the ice melts every summer and is replaced in winter by new ice; the ice is not as thick and there appears to be bigger masses of new ice; there is less snow on the ice so that when pitching tents the explorers now use ice screws rather than snow stakes to anchor their equipment;  there have been more severe storms on the NP; these changes could eventually have an  adverse impact on many of  the earth’s ocean currents; and this could all result in a slowdown or potential halt of the Thermohaline circulation. (More information on this subject can be obtained from http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/education/tutorial_currents/05converyor1,html.)
 
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