Willis Leads Antarctic Research and Survey Programme to Better Understand The Impact of Climate Change
London, UK, 30 September 2013 – Willis Group Holdings (NYSE: WSH), the global risk adviser, insurance and
reinsurance broker, is sponsoring a scientific programme in Antarctica from November 2013 to January 2014 to
better understand our changing climate and build resilience to weather-related risk.
The Willis Resilience Expedition will undertake three scientific research projects focused on how the climate is changing
in Antarctica, a region which provides an important signal for the rate and scale of global
This remarkable Expedition will be led by Parker Liautaud, a 19 year old polar explorer, student of
the Department of Geology and Geophysics at Yale and respected international climate science campaigner.
The scientific survey and research conducted in Antarctica will include:
The team will test an automatic weather station called the ColdFacts-3000BX, which has never been tested in
Antarctica. This light and relatively inexpensive model could pave the way for additional cost-efficient and extensive
surface observations in the Antarctic region. The weather station will be deployed near Union Glacier camp
and tested over a period of five weeks.
The Expedition will undertake a ‘coast-to-pole-to-coast’ survey of
Antarctic stable isotope trends, covering hundreds of kilometres of never sampled territory. These observations will provide
new information on the rate of change in Antarctic temperatures in recent years. Samples will be
sent to the International Atomic Energy Agency Isotope Hydrology laboratories for analysis.
The team will conduct
a transcontinental study of the deposition rate of Tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen, across Antarctica.
The relatively short half-life of Tritium means it can be used to date snow and ice
up to around 150 years old. The data can then be used to better understand the
global water cycle, which is intrinsically linked to changes in climate. This will be the first
large-scale study of Tritium in Antarctica since Tritium returned to normal levels following the spike caused
by thermonuclear tests in the 1960s. The samples will be sent to GNS Science, a New
Zealand Crown Research Institute, for analysis.
The Willis Resilience Expedition builds on many years of significant investment in climate science, earth observation and
natural hazard risk assessment by the Willis Research Network in partnership with academic institutions around the
Commenting on the Expedition, Rowan Douglas, Chairman of the Willis Research Network; Member of the Prime Minister's
Council for Science and Technology and Member of the Natural Environment Research Council, said:
“I am delighted that Willis is supporting this core science and fundamental earth observation project in the
Antarctic. It is the first time that a financial institution has led the support of a
major survey in the South Pole. These new isotope transects will shed important new light on
the dynamics of Antarctic climate change in recent decades while the testing of new resilient, efficient
and automatic weather station will provide an economic solution to the challenge of monitoring future climate
“We need to model the insurance industry's exposure to climate related risk to fulfill the stringent requirements
of financial regulation. We hope that the Willis Resilience Expedition's science and survey programme will provide
scientists with important data to inform their models which, in turn, provide inputs to our own
systems to estimate the risk of extreme events. The Antarctic is the canary in the cage
for the pace and thresholds for wider global processes and impacts.
“What makes it even more remarkable, is that it is being led by an outstanding and charismatic
young scientist and explorer from Yale University, Parker Liautaud.
“The Willis Resilience Expedition combines science, adventure and extreme challenge to inspire and motivate audiences everywhere to
learn more about our changing world.”
The 40-day Willis Resilience Expedition is comprised of two phases: scientific research and extreme challenge. Once the
scientific survey is complete, Parker will set off on the second phase: an attempt to set
a new world record for an unsupported coast-to-pole crossing. With his expedition partner Doug Stoup, Parker
will attempt to ski 397 miles (640km) in 22 days. In achieving the distance, Parker will
also become the youngest male to ski from the coast to the South Pole.
Parker Liautaud added: “With our climate changing and so little known about the Antarctic region, The Willis
Resilience Expedition provides a fantastic opportunity to support some leading research programmes into changing climate patterns
in Antarctica. I look forward to working with Willis Group to complete what will hopefully be
a record setting expedition that will return with some valuable data to help gain a better
understanding of the impact of climate change on the planet.”
For more information on the Willis Resilience Expedition visit www.willisresilience.com.
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Sarah Robson, Tel: +44 203 124 7452, Email: email@example.com
Willis Group Holdings plc is a leading global risk advisor, insurance and reinsurance broker. With roots dating
to 1828, Willis operates today on every continent with more than 17,000 employees in over 400
offices. Willis offers its clients superior expertise, teamwork, innovation and market-leading products and professional services in
risk management and transfer. Our experts rank among the world’s leading authorities on analytics, modelling and
mitigation strategies at the intersection of global commerce and extreme events. Find more information at our
website, www.willis.com, our leadership journal, Resilience, or our up-tothe-minute blog on breaking
news, WillisWire. Across geographies, industries and specialisms, Willis provides its local and multinational clients
with resilience for a risky world.
About the Willis Research Network
The Willis Research Network is the world's largest collaboration between public science and the finance and insurance
sectors. Some 50 universities and public science institutions across the globe collaborate with Willis and the
wider industry to confront the challenges of managing risk and delivering resilience within environmental systems, financial
markets and public policy.