Interdisciplinary South Pole Innovation & Research Expedition (INSPIRE 22)
The aim of this scientific expedition was to build on the work that has already come out of the MEF-supported metabolic research registry, GPAMrr, by assessing the metabolic tariff imposed on both male and female participants by prolonged polar travel. In the process, the researchers also planned to test wearable technologies designed to measure physiological activities and to assess the psychological impact of prolonged polar travel. Following a preliminary expedition to Norway in March 2022 and training exercises in the UK, baseline measurements were taken at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust and Coventry University in October 2022. The team left the UK on 7 November and, following testing in Punta Arenas, Chile, arrived in Antarctica on 21 November before being flown to the starting point of the Messner Route on 24 November. Over the next 47 days, the team of 9 (3 women and 6 men) skied to the South Pole, averaging 23km a day with two rest days. Diet was monitored throughout, with on-ice testing taking place every 5 days with all participants remaining on freeze dried food for two additional days after reaching the Pole in order to obtain additional measurements. The researchers note that all of the participants lost weight. This weight loss was generally concentrated in the fat compartments and was accompanied by the addition of muscle mass. Men appeared to lose more absolute weight and had a greater percentage weight loss. Analysis of the data is ongoing.