Explorer and adventurer Lewis Gordon Pugh has begun a kayak expedition to the North Pole aimed at drawing attention to the dramatic impact of melting polar ice in the Arctic, his blog said Sunday. "I want to bring home to world leaders, on this expedition, the reality of what is now happening here in the Arctic. The rate of change is clearly faster than nearly all the models predict, which has huge implications for climate change and how to tackle it," Pugh said in a message posted late Saturday. Pugh, a 38-year-old environmentalist, swimmer and maritime lawyer, began his trek Saturday from Virgohamna in the Svalbard archipelago, in Norway's far north about 620 miles from the North Pole. According to his blog, he hopes to paddle for five hours a day, with a support boat following close behind. On the first day of his journey, he kayaked for almost three hours. "We covered just under 13.6 miles -- saw lots of puffins along the way," he wrote. "The weather continues to be good to us. Although it is nearly September, the sea is relatively calm, and we made good progress," he said. The Arctic ice cap is melting under the effects of global warming and in August it saw its second largest summer shrinkage since satellite observations began 30 years ago, US scientists said last week. Measurements on August 26 showed an ice cap of 2.03 million square miles, just below the 2.05 million square miles observed on 21 September 2005, making it the second biggest summer Arctic ice-cap melt in history, said the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). The North Pole itself could even become free of ice by September for the first time in modern history, setting a new milestone in the effects of global warming on the Arctic ice shelf, NSIDC glaciologist Mark Serreze told AFP in late June. Last year, Lewis Gordon Pugh became the first person to swim in the icy waters of the North Pole to raise awareness of the effects of global warming. Pugh took 18 minutes and 50 seconds to swim one kilometre (0.6 miles) in the minus 28.8-degree Fahrenheit water -- the coldest water ever swum in, he claimed.