Dartmouth President, Alumni And Professors Take An Arctic Journey

Aug 17, 2016

The dog days of summer are here and many people are headed out of town. But, Dartmouth's President Philip J. Hanlon, a group of alumni and professors took it further north than most … all the way up to the Arctic.

Dartmouth has one of the leading exploration programs of the North Pole. To those who think the Arctic is too foreign to care about, Professor Ross Virginia, who led the recent Dartmouth expedition, says, “What happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic.”

Virginia has been exploring the Arctic since the 1980s and has watched it changed before his eyes over the years.

“The Arctic is the place where climate change is happening, the Arctic accelerates climate change and it affects all of us,” Virginia said at the Rauner Special Collections Library on the Dartmouth campus. He elaborated: “Sea level rise, the release of greenhouse gases from thawing permafrost. Thawing soils in the Arctic releasing CO2 and methane, which adds to global warming ... All these changes that seem very remote from us actually affect us and will affect us and accelerate change for the entire globe.”

These days, Dartmouth President Hanlon is certainly not the only tourist heading to the Arctic. Vacationers are traveling north in droves.

“The Arctic is a huge tourist destination right now,” Virginia said. “It's exploding, and a lot of it is what we call ‘doomsday tourism’: people think the ice is changing and want to see it before it's gone.”

For those who can't get up to the Arctic this summer, you can check out the Dartmouth Library's public collection of historical artifacts from the first voyages back in the 1800s to the then-unexplored Arctic.