Motor racing-Extreme E appoints sea ice expert to head scientific committee

LONDON, March 26 (Reuters) - Extreme E, an electric off-road series aiming to highlight climate change with races in harsh and remote environments, has appointed British sea ice expert Peter Wadhams to lead its scientific committee.

The Cambridge University professor of ocean physics, a former director of the Scott Polar Research Institute, will be one of five scientists driving a climate research and education programme.

Wadhams said in a statement on Thursday that he endorsed the series aims: "With more than 30% of the planet’s emissions coming from transportation, this sector is a huge contributor to atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.

"It’s a fact that more people watch sport than watch scientific documentaries, so I fully support Extreme E’s platform of using motorsport to showcase electric vehicles and promote their adoption."

The off-road 'docu-sport' series, due to start next year, will visit five locations chosen to bring attention to climate threats such as deforestation, rising sea levels, desertification, and plastic pollution.

Senegal's Lac Rose in West Africa, the Saudi Arabian deserts, Nepal’s high-altitude Kali-Gandaki valley and retreating glaciers in Greenland are visited before the series ends on deforested land in the Brazilian Amazon.

Wadhams, 71, has overseen 55 Arctic expeditions during his 50-year career and advised on the selection of Kangerlussuaq, Greenland.

Extreme E will use the 7,000 tonne former mail ship ‘St Helena’, previously used as a link to remote South Atlantic islands, as a floating paddock and transporter between locations.

The ship is undergoing a modernisation and refit to lower emissions. Wadhams will be the series' Arctic scientist and oversee research in the on-board oceanographic laboratory.

Series founder Alejandro Agag said the scientific committee was "the vital bedrock of our series.

"It supports the very reason we designed this championship, to build climate awareness and accelerate the adoption of renewable energy vehicles in the fight to help lower the planet’s CO2 levels," added the Spaniard. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar)