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Follow the Word's First Sustainably Powered South Pole Expedition With This Interactive Map

Follow the Word's First Sustainably Powered South Pole Expedition With This Interactive Map

Picture of Claire Lancaster
Tech & Entrepreneurship Editor
Updated: 15 December 2017

Explorer Robert Swan OBE has experienced some of the harshest environments on the planet, becoming the first man in history to walk unaided to both poles in the 1980s. Now, alongside his 23-year-old son Barney, the Swans have embarked on an epic 600-mile, 60-day trek on foot to the south geographic pole – to be powered solely by renewables.

The pair are being supported by some of the world’s most technologically advanced companies from NASA, which is providing a state of the art solar-powered ice melter, to Shell and Patagonia, which are supplying advanced biofuels and technical clothing for extreme conditions.

By only using renewable sources of energy, Robert and Barney will be able to cook and keep warm in temperatures as low as minus 40°C as they trek through some of the most inhospitable terrain on Earth. “We have planned for every scenario but our main contingency for when we’re in an Antarctic blizzard and I can’t see my hand in front of me is the advanced biofuels, which will keep us warm, comfortable and most importantly, safe,” said Robert.

Through this extraordinary expedition, the father and son team aim to highlight to younger generations that there is no silver bullet to the challenge of climate change. It is up to all players in society – including governments, industry, entrepreneurs and corporations to come together to develop a mixture of cleaner energy solutions.

Speaking of the enormity of climate change, Barney said, “this expedition is about the convenient solutions that can address the current climate change challenges. It is a small example of how we can all make choices to help us transition to a cleaner energy future.

“For people at home who are wondering what they can do, just making small changes like eating from sustainable sources, using less plastic cups and bags, and using solar-powered appliances to charge your phone will all help.”

As a life-long explorer, Robert is passionate about caring for the environment. When asked what’s left to explore he’s said, “the greatest exploration left is our ability as humans to learn how to live on the earth sustainably.”

You can follow the Swans’ journey through this immersive, interactive web map.

Geographically accurate, real time, and ultra high-resolution, the map is one of very few Antarctica tracking maps that uses satellite imagery. While there are very few visible landmarks in Antarctica, the position (eg. -84.332, -85.881) tells you exactly where the explorers are. You can also click into the route and watch or listen to video and voice messages from the Swans.

For more polar inspiration, watch our video interview with Arctic explorer Christina Franco, the woman trying to become the first solo woman to reach the true North Pole.