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The voyage's aim is to meet with local people, collect new information on the area and examine future management options for a place where summer sea ice is expected to last the longest. One of the crew members will be Dr.Tim Dowson from the University of Durham who will be researching salt marsh development in high latitude Greenland. Salt marshes are important archives of information on changes in relative sea level. It will provide important new data for ice sheet reconstruction and our understanding of north Atlantic climatic changes, and hence our prediction of future global sea level changes.

Clive Tesar, Head of Communications and External Relations WWF-Global Arctic Programme, said;

The region we will be travelling through is critical for an entire ice-dependent ecosystem. "This is an important opportunity for us to deepen our understanding of the Arctic and its people so we can work together to plan a sustainable future - for people and for wildlife - in this vitally important region."

The new sponsorship includes support for a range of initiatives beyond the Last Arctic Ice Area expedition, including continued sponsorship of the WWF-Canon Global Photo Network2 and photography training for WWF staff. The partnership means WWF will continue to benefit from Canon's imaging expertise to record and promote awareness of the state of the environment and climate change.

Cyp da Costa, Brand and Sponsorship Director, Canon Europe, said;

"Canon Europe is focused on raising awareness of conservation issues and our partnership with WWF is a key component of our overall commitment to sustainability.

"We are proud to continue our work as WWF's Conservation Imaging Partner by supporting an expedition that aims to extend our knowledge of the Last Ice Area, one of the least-explored regions of the world."

The Arctic Tern has set set off from Upernaviq in Greenland and is expected to arrive at its destination, Pond Inlet in Canada, on 1 September 2012. The expedition will see WWF experts, scientists, crew and a Canon Europe professional photographer Ambassador travelling through Canada's High Arctic to the Last Ice Area, to research this little-known area and meeting local people along the way. The expedition can be followed on its journey online at Expedition information and images will be published following the conclusion of the expedition in Autumn 2012.

The Last Ice Area expedition will take place in three stages: from Upernavik to Qaanaq, Greenland (24 July - 8 August); Qaanaq, Greenland to Grise Fiord, Canada (8 - 18 August); and Grise Fiord to Pond Inlet, Canada (18 August - 1 September).

About WWF

WWF is one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organisations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries.  WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.

1. The WWF-Canon Polar Bear Tracker follows selected polar bears "live" by tracking them as they move throughout the Arctic region. Their positions are beamed from collars on the bears' necks, via satellite to scientists, and onto the dedicated website. It allows WWF to get regular updates about how the polar bears behave in their arctic environment and how they may be affected by climate change.

2. The WWF-Canon Global Photo Network is an online database storing tens of thousands of digitised WWF images, available for general download across the WWF network."