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Ice Retention in Down Filled Product

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Two polar explorers and an expedition photographer were reported to be held up from moving farther towards the North Pole because their food supplies were not able to get to them due to bad weather conditions. While they were in the holding pattern they complained that they were experiencing ice accumulation in their sleeping bags. When I heard of this situation I decided to investigate what they were doing, traveling north on the arctic ice pack.

The expedition is called Catlin Arctic Survey. Catlin Group Limited is headquartered in Bermuda. This may explain their lack of knowledge at the firm about cold weather products; i.e. sleeping bags and clothing. They are sponsoring this surveying expedition to find out the effects of global warming in the arctic and how it is affecting the polar ice pack.

If you go to the web site as I have done www.catlinarcticsurvey.com you can see the equipment they are using; of course my interest is with the sleeping bags and clothing. The first mistake I saw was the type of underwear they are wearing; 100 % wool. It is of a close knit construction; traditional long underwear. The wool is very comfortable merino wool. This material will without question absorb and retain moisture coming out of the pores of the body. Keep in mind these people are intending to live in their clothing for 90 days or so. Without a source of heat to dry this underwear the moisture will still be trapped next to their skin surface perpetually draining heat from their body. Over the underwear it appears from the list of clothing items they are wearing fleece garments. The fleece is probably made from polyester fiber. Fleece does by its very nature trap moisture and while it does not absorb the moisture since the fiber is a synthetic the moisture is still there. In addition they do have a down filled parka, surprisingly they do not show down pants or bib, but rather a pile or fleece lined sledding suit. And of course they have down filled sleeping bags. The bags are rated for use as cold as -49 C; being down filled tells me the bags will not perform at that temperature. For the past 10 or so years I have worked with the Indian military on sleeping bags for use in extreme cold such as these people are experiencing and every down bag they have tested has failed. I am as certain as one can be these bags do not perform in these conditions. Considering that two of the team has prior experience of long distance trekking in arctic conditions or so it is said on the web site I am mildly amazed that they still use down insulated items. When they were waiting for the re-supply plane they spoke of the sleeping bags retaining moisture which turned to ice. Each day the ice accumulation in the sleeping bags will increase because they have no way of melting the ice and then drying the bags. I wrote about the Will Steger expedition that went to the North Pole Unsupported in 1985 showing that their bags gained 35 pounds of ice, why will this expedition not have the same experience? It will.

I believe they will have moisture soaked clothing as well.

What is evident is the lack of knowledge on the part of these “experienced arctic travelers” with regards to dehydration. The colder the atmosphere the drier the atmosphere, hence the faster one dehydrates. Approximately 80 % of the human body is water which does evaporate much more quickly in a cold environment than at the equator. Intake of water is more vital than food initially. However, since the body’s need for food increases dramatically in arctic conditions to fuel the production of heat the better the insulated layers surrounding your body the slower the heat production the longer the fuel will last. These people on this expedition are finding that they must eat more than they probably calculated and more often. They have already entered a vicious cycle of survival. Read the full context of the chief medical officer’s post on the web site; Dr. Martin Rhodes, I quote “We’re all very, very cold and have lost feeling in our fingers and toes”. (This was told to him by one or all three of the people on this expedition). His explanation “So the team are fighting a battle to maintain their core temperature. Their only weapon is the heat they are able to generate through exercise and metabolism, their only fuel food. The clothing and footwear the team use reduces the heat loss as far as modern material science allows (emphasis added), but it does not generate any heat itself. The fact that the Team can’t now feel their fingers and toes demonstrates not only just how extreme the cold is (-34 C…just try to imagine! Your freezer at home is -18 or so) but also the amazing lengths the body will go to survive”. If within 19 days or less since I do not know when this commentary was posted they have lost feeling in their fingers and toes how long will it be before they lose use of their hands and feet? The expedition is scheduled to last as many as 90 days. I expect the feet will stop working first, followed shortly there after by the hands. I believe they are in serious trouble now.

As for Dr. Rhodes knowledge of materials that are available for use in the manufacture of cold weather apparel and sleeping bags it borders on the non-existent level. I am proof of the fact that extreme cold weather products such as those needed for use by people attempting such an expedition exists. They are made by Wiggy’s Inc. If they had come to me they would not be in the situation I believe they are in “survival mode”. After all Wiggy’s products have neverfailed.

They will not accomplish what they set out to do, and I believe if they are not transported off of the ice to a warmer environment soon they will probably not survive. Their mission will become in my view a suicide mission.

There are options which I have suggested to the company. Since they are flying provisions to them they can bring replacement clothing and sleeping bags as are needed. They can provide them with Wiggy’s products and then they will not need to replace them. Or they can pick them up and fly them further down the route and create a story of success.


The mission is to walk 1300 kilometers 807 miles on arctic sea ice to the North Geographic Poles. The purpose is to “take millions of measurements of the thickness of the ice” of the ice floating on the Arctic Ocean. They believe if they can show the ice is thinning that is a sign of global warming. The information will be past on to many in the scientific community to include Professor Wieslaw Maslowski of the US Navy Postgraduate Naval School in Monterey, CA. His current model projections (probably computer generated) suggest the Arctic Ocean will be ice-free in the summer as early as 2013. “The findings ( I guess his) will be taken to the national negotiating teams working to replace the Kyoto Protocol agreement at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December 2009”.


The planet Earth is in fact cooling! The Canadian Weather Service published a report in the Canadian press in early 2008 noting the thickness of the arctic ice was if I remember correctly about 20 centimeters thicker than the previous year as well as being larger than the previous year. In January 2009 satellite photographs of the Arctic Ocean compared to satellite photographs taken in the 1970’s I believe showed it to be at least 5 percent larger now. The larger it is, is a direct result of colder weather which would explain why the ice is thicker. How is this possible, if the earth is warming? Blank out.

In the summer of 2008 crops grown in Canada and the northern U.S. were planted later than in past years because there was a longer cold season. How is this possible, if the earth is warming? Blank out. I was told the Idaho potato crop was also planted later in the summer of 2008 due to a longer cold season. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that Russia has no wheat crop. They are so high up on the globe their wheat fields may not get warm enough to grow any crop.

This year when the Iditarod Dog Sled Race was completed the temperature in Nome was about -50 F degrees. I have followed the Iditarod for years because I sell so many of the entrants as well as dog
musher’s in general world wide. I do not recall in 20 years a Race with temperatures as cold as this year.

Here in Grand Junction where I live we had the third winter in a row of colder than normal temperature for the prior 17 years that I have lived here. Does this sound like global warming? Blank out. How about the rest of the country having also for the past three years colder, longer and snowier winters? Can global warming explain why this is happening? Blank out.

The reason for the cooling effect that is taking place has to do with the snow fall falling farther south than has happened for years. The warm waters evaporating off of the Pacific Ocean travel north towards the North Pole. The moist air can only go so far before it becomes snow. When there is an abundance of snow falling farther south it covers the ground. The sun sends radiant heat waves to Earth. The dark objects on Earth absorb the radiant heat and these heated objects then heat the air. The air in and of itself is not heated by the sun. If it were the deserts would not get as cold as they do at night.

When the snow falls farther south it covers more of the Earths surface. When the sun’s radiation hits the white snow it is reflected into outer space. [The Catlin Arctic Survey is taking place over an enormous area of a white surface. They apparently do not know, although they should, that the white surface is sending the sun’s radiant heat waves back into space.] The bare ground near the snow will absorb the sun’s radiant heat waves and then the warm bare ground will heat and melt the snow. The sun does not heat the white snow and melt it, it sends the radiant heat waves back into space. If you were to cover the snow with soot the dark soot material would absorb the radiant heat from the sun and melt the snow beneath it. I believe this was done at some point in time years ago, I just can’t remember the context of the event.

For any one interested in the global warming issue there is substantial information that can be found on the internet. If you do, do the research you will find the factual information presented supports the position that what we have experienced for the past few years is natural to the life of the planet Earth and that we are now proceeding in a cooling mode. Those who present the opposite view do not have facts to support their position but rather feeling. Note the Catlin Arctic Survey is intended to supply information to the UN which will demand that developed countries like the USA stop functioning as we do here and if we do we will then enter into the realm of the third world. The Catlin Arctic Survey wants to prove the sun’s radiant heat waves penetrate through the ice to warm the water which will melt the ice from the bottom of the ice sheet. I am not making this up. The real purpose in my opinion is to support governments around the world to take control of everything in our lives.

I remember reading in an article by Ayn Rand where she quoted an actress whom I do not recall, who went to Russia sometime in the 1960’s and commented on the way people were dressed. I believe it went something like this; “Everybody was dressed equally shabby”, it appears to me that is the direction we are now heading or rather have been heading for quite sometime.

I personally do hope the Catlin Arctic Survey people survive even though I think they are on a fool’s errand.

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