Living alone on an iceberg sounds like the plot of a survival novel. How could anyone withstand the freezing temperatures and constant isolation?
Italian explorer Alex Bellini intends to find the exact answer to that question later this year. Falling pretty high up on the list of cool things to do with ice, Bellini has pledged to spend a full 12 months camped out on an iceberg off the coast of Greenland. The project, called “Adrift,” is part of an effort to draw attention to climate change and conduct further study on the life cycle of an iceberg.
According to an article in Outside, Bellini will spend his 12 months in a re-purposed survival capsule originally created as a shelter for tsunami victims. The 10-foot capsule is equipped with a wind generator and emergency radio beacon, as well as Wi-Fi, folding beds and solar panels. Perhaps most importantly, it also floats, offering protection in the event that the iceberg he’s anchored on flips; a phenomenon that often occurs as the ice melts. Not only is the capsule capable of withstanding storms at sea and being crushed between icebergs, it’s going to be stylish. Bellini has hired designer Pietro Santoro to customize his limited living space.
One of the biggest challenges Bellini anticipates is how to leave the capsule safely, even for a brief moment to take measurements or stretch his legs. In order to detect any tremors that might warn of an impending flip, he’s working with a separate company to develop nanosensors that can monitor the berg for any movement. The curved design of the capsule uses Newton’s third law of physics to deflect the force of water in the event of a flip. Its shape helps to ensure that if Bellini were to fall into the ocean, the heavy mass of the waves would be met with an equal and opposite reaction, preventing it from destruction.
In the year 2012, 97% of the surface of Greenland’s ice sheet thawed, and several of the following years have also seen above average temperatures. With such rapid melting, it’s important that researchers gather as much data as possible on how icebergs work.
Activity: If you had to spend an entire year in an enclosed space, what would it look like? What kind of adaptations would it need in order to withstand the environment and keep you healthy? Draw a blueprint for your own survival capsule.
Jobs: Environmental engineer, climate researcher