Stephen Smith has been engaged in Arctic exploration and research since the late 1970s. For over two decades he led mountaineering and sea kayaking expeditions on Ellesmere Island and Northwest Greenland — more than fifty of them. In 2004 he was Director of Operations and Expedition Leader on the Adolphus Greely retrospective Abandoned in the Arctic. That High Arctic documentary project involved a five-week kayak expedition through the length of Nares Strait. Smith’s films have been informed and shaped by the intensity of his experiences on polar ice. His recent feature Vanishing Point (2014 Canadian Screen Award finalist, Best Documentary) bears witness to the challenges facing indigenous hunting culture in a time of declining Arctic sea ice. Smith’s wildlife and adventure photography has been widely published in books and leading magazines including Natural History, Outside, and National Geographic. “Enduring Ice is the most important project I’ve ever taken on”, he says. “There’s never been a time when the Arctic has been of greater importance and relevance. We’ve really got to get this right.”
Christopher Horvat is a polar oceanographer and applied mathematician at Harvard University. Horvat has been studying the impact of the rapidly changing Arctic Ocean on ecology and climate. His first hands-on experience in the Arctic was as a researcher aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Healy in the Chukchi Sea. Much of his recent work focusses upon the use of observations and predictive modeling to measure and analyze the influence of winds and currents on Arctic ice floes. Horvat notes, “As the Arctic Ocean becomes less ice covered there’s going to be more open water, and that means bigger waves and swells”. His research is motivated by the need to understand the links between the Earth’s natural and human systems, and it emphasizes large and small-scale climate processes in relation to sea ice cover and ocean circulation. He is excited to kayak and explore in Nares Strait, where thick and expansive ice floes are still able to persist throughout the year. For him, Nares is a ‘last frontier for sea ice’, a place that will allow him to investigate in situ what he has been studying from afar in his lab. “My research interests are directed towards uncovering new ways of understanding climate while we still have time. Our ability to see and feel the consequences of rapid Arctic change may be melting away”.
Bryce Dillon is from the Bay Area in California. He attends Gonzaga University where he is majoring in Environmental Studies, and minoring in Philosophy and Business — “so I am employable, ha, ha”, he says. Growing up in suburban California, he has developed a love for the wilderness. For him there is nothing more nurturing to the mind and spirit than disconnecting from routine and engaging with nature. He devotes his free time to biking, kayaking, hiking, rowing, and documenting these experiences. His photography focuses on landscapes and images of the night sky. Bryce chose environmental studies as his major because he wants to understand more fully humankind’s ever-evolving history and relationship with the natural world. He asks, “how does the environment affect our culture and what affect does our culture have on the environment”. He sees anthropogenic climate change as the most pressing issue of our time. “It will continue to define our lives into the future”, he says. Bryce is looking forward to his second trip to the Arctic, and to the opportunities, he will have to share his experiences.
Diana Kushner is an organic farmer from Rhode Island. With a background in ecology, and a passion for the outdoors, she became a farmer by accident. While studying the effects of farm chemicals on ground water, she became addicted to growing plants and driving tractors. Since 1999, she has run Arcadian Fields, an organic farm that specializes in greens, and sells locally at farmers market and to restaurants. Kushner finds that farming is getting harder — she’s constantly having to deal with the ramifications of climate change. Each year there are new pests and diseases, and crops are now being wiped out on a regular basis. Spring comes earlier, Fall arrives later, and rainfall is unreliable. Dreaming of wild places gets her through these hotter, longer summers; going to them sustains her. Every winter Kushner leaves her farm for an outdoor adventure. She met her husband, Stephen Smith, on one of those trips — in Patagonia. She is an avid hiker, a big reader, and obsessed with ice and the Arctic. This will be her second trip to the Nares Strait area, and she can’t wait!
Michael Dillon is not your typical Silicon Valley lawyer. Before taking on the job of Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Adobe Systems Inc., Dillon rode his bicycle from Florida to California. His goal was to get home, but on the way he learned a lot about himself, and a lot about recession-hit America. In his book, Changing Cadence, Dillon shares his reflections from this journey. When he’s not shaking things up at Adobe — banning the use of acronyms and legalese, creating open work environments, designing leading-edge strategies for collaboration – Dillon is off on high adventures. He is serious about exploring wild country, and has an incorrigible enthusiasm for self-propelled travel. Dillon got hooked on Arctic kayaking by joining an expedition into Nares Strait with Stephen Smith in 2001. An adventurer to the core, he’s been dreaming about another trip there ever since. But his real derring-do is as a corporate attorney and as executive sponsor of Adobe’s Sustainability commitment. His one-line blog bio, “Under Construction. No, seriously, I’m a work in Progress”, leaves you wondering: can this be the same Dillon, chief legal officer at Adobe?