Above the Tundra

While the focus of hydrocube.org is on reducing Arctic and subarctic greenhouse gas emissions (climate change mitigation) through developing reliable and renewable alternatives to fossil fuels, our nonprofit subsidiary abovethetundra.org is focused on adaptation to a changing Arctic climate.

Our primary project is a feasibility study of using hovercraft to replace wheeled vehicles (including cars, trucks and four-wheeler off road vehicles) in tundra climate zones.

We do not design or sell hovercraft; we act as a facilitator or conduit, connecting worldwide original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to Arctic communities and providing a go-between to help these communities understand the technology.

Our value added is by bringing an entire infrastructure package together from worldwide suppliers and offering communities and governments a fixed firm price with clear contract deliverables they can understand in simple non engineering terms. We do not make any profit from this.  All work is volunteer driven.

Here are some of the advantages of hovercraft over wheeled vehicles:

  • Hovercraft do not need roads that are built on shifting permafrost, which are very expensive to build and maintain.  Many Arctic roads built in the last 10 years are already being severely degraded due to human caused climate change melting the permafrost.  Based on all the available evidence, the maintenance cost of these roads will increase exponentially, since we are still burning fossil fuels.
  • Instead of roads, the hovercraft can follow GPS waypoints.  These can be updated as the land shifts and changes to mark the safest and easiest route.  Real time data sources include satellite imagery, hovercraft trip reports and reports from local residents (traditional knowledge).
  • (For off road vehicles) Unlike four-wheeler ORVs, hovercraft do not destroy vegetation that is partly responsible for keeping the ground frozen (by acting as insulation).  Destroying vegetation in this way accelerates slumps (permafrost landslides) which threaten buildings and roads. Since the majority of the world’s carbon is stored in Arctic permafrost soils, the release of any of this carbon into oceans or the atmosphere could have disastrous (positive-feedback) effects accelerating climate change, ocean acidification and global warming even further.
  • Hovercraft are very flexible and can travel over tundra, ice, snow and open water (with limited ocean swell depending on the size of the hovercraft).  They are also great at moving over wetlands and shallow water. As the Arctic warms, there will be more open water and less ice and snow, limiting the time of year that snowmobiles can be used.
  • Hovercraft are already in use by the Canadian coast guard (CCG) and other clients.  They can be very large (large enough to carry goods and fuel to Arctic towns) and travel up to 80 km/h.  A trip from Tombstone park in the Yukon Territory to Inuvik, NWT would take about six to eight hours.

A CCG hovercraft

  • Smaller personal hovercraft are also available for individual use in subsistence hunting and fishing activities.  These can replace four-wheelers for summer use as the length of Arctic summers expands due to human caused climate change.

Note that abovethetundra.org does not address climate change mitigation at all, meaning you will not find discussion of alternative fuels for hovercraft (e.g. hydrogen fuel cells).  For more information on hydrogen as a renewable Arctic fuel, please visit hydrocube.org.

Of course, we hope that the fuel used for hovercraft will be renewable, and where possible we will partner with renewable fuel equipment manufacturers, but the focus of this website is to promote adaptation solutions to allow Arctic residents to continue to hunt, fish and live sustainably in a rapidly changing climate.  If this means initially that our proposed hovercraft are fossil fuel powered (gasoline, diesel or fracked natural gas), that will be acceptable to us.

If you would like more information, please contact us.