What we can learn
Catlin’s objective in sponsoring the Catlin Arctic Survey was to aid scientists in obtaining the crucial, impartial data they require to make more reliable conclusions about the impact of climate change, other changes to the environment and the new risks they could create.
Systemic changes in our environment could create new types of risk and therefore have significant consequence for insurers and reinsurers like ourselves. Signals that our environment may be changing can often be found in the Arctic. However, the hostile Arctic environment makes it difficult for scientists to obtain the first-hand data they need to predict future changes.
The Catlin Arctic Survey facilitated that crucial data gathering by teaming experienced Arctic explorers and guides, who are accustomed to the harsh conditions, with leading research scientists from institutions in the United Kingdom, Europe, the United States and Canada.
2009 Catlin Arctic Survey
The first Catlin Arctic Survey sought to determine when the Arctic Ocean’s sea ice cover would no longer remain a year-round surface feature of the Earth.
This data was collected and analysed by research partners in the Polar Ocean Physics Group at the University of Cambridge, which concluded there is a significant probability that, within ten years, only 20 per cent of the Arctic Ocean basin will have sea ice cover during summers.
Learn more about the 2009 Survey
2010 Catlin Arctic Survey
The 2010 Survey studied the effects of carbon dioxide on the Arctic Ocean.
When carbon dioxide dissolves in seawater it forms a weak acid. The survey studied whether the rate at which atmospheric carbon dioxide is increasing has led to increased ocean acidification. Because cold water absorbs CO2 more effectively than warm water, the Arctic Ocean serves as an early warning indicator for the rest of the planet.
Scientific findings resulting from the research carried out by the 2010 Catlin Arctic Survey are expected to be published in 2011.
Learn more about the 2010 Survey
2011 Catlin Arctic Survey
The third Catlin Arctic Survey focused on how changes in the Arctic Ocean might impact deepwater ocean currents. Changes in these currents, among other things, could significantly alter weather patterns globally.
The amount of fresh water entering the Arctic Ocean is increasing from melting sea ice and glaciers, additional rainfall and river runoff. The aim of the 2011 Catlin Arctic Survey was to determine whether these phenomena could affect currents in the Atlantic Ocean, potentially leading to rising sea levels on the Eastern seaboard of North America and altering prevailing weather patterns on both sides of the Atlantic.
Learn more about the 2011 Survey