A researcher from the University of Northampton is about to travel to the Antarctic to explore how people from different backgrounds respond to extreme conditions such as sub-zero temperatures and extreme isolation.
Dr Nathan Smith, a Lecturer in Sports Psychology, will be embarking on the ‘2041 International Antarctic Expedition (IAE)’, which will set sail from the Argentinian port of Ushuaia – a town nicknamed ‘the end of the world’. The 24 expedition members will spend more than two weeks together, in freezing temperatures as low as -25C.
The expedition will feature an international cohort of individuals who are all participating in the ‘Leadership on the Edge’ programme, a scheme devised by world-renowned adventurer Robert Swan. The diverse group come from all around the world, including Canada, UK, USA, India and the Philippines, and include a 23-year-old from India and an 18-year-old environmentalist from the Isle of Wight. As part of the expedition, Dr Smith will be conducting research into how the other expedition members cope with the extreme cold and isolation of the frozen south.
Dr Smith explained: “All in all, this is set to be a wonderful journey and should offer scope for academic discovery, as well as a heavy dose of self-discovery. On the run up to departure I will be recording some video diaries discussing different parts of the journey, some of my inspirations and the logistics of conducting research in the Antarctic.”
All in all, this is set to be a wonderful journey and should offer scope for academic discovery, as well as a heavy dose of self-discovery
The Leadership on the Edge programme aims to educate future world leaders on the benefits of protecting the natural world, and the importance of developing resilient people and communities. Knowing how people from diverse backgrounds respond to extreme, isolated and confined situations is crucial for safe and successful journeys into extreme environments. Such information will become increasingly important as the opportunity to travel to remote parts of the Earth – and beyond – becomes more accessible to more people.
The three main scientific objectives of the expedition are: to examine how exposure to extreme conditions relates to post-expedition adjustment to ‘normal’ life; to explore the role of personality and personal values when coping with stress in extreme, isolated and confined conditions; and to observe group cohesion and performance in a culturally-diverse expedition group.
Iceberg image courtesy of the 2041 International Antarctic Expedition.