- Month-long, 6,200-mile trip aims to document the impact of climate change
- Scientists say sea ice will soon largely vanish from the Arctic during the summer
- They predict impact will be felt across northern hemisphere as far as Florida
The email arrived in mid-June, seeking to explode any notion that global warming might turn our Arctic expedition into a summer cruise.
'The most important piece of clothing to pack is good, sturdy and warm boots. There is going to be snow and ice on the deck of the icebreaker,' it read.
The Associated Press was joining international researchers on a month-long, 10,000 kilometer (6,200-mile) journey to document the impact of climate change on the forbidding ice and frigid waters of the Far North.
But once the ship entered the fabled Northwest Passage between the Atlantic and the Pacific, there would be nowhere to stop for supplies and no help for hundreds of miles.
So in went the boots: Global warming or not, it was best to come prepared.
If parts of the planet are becoming like a furnace because of global warming, then the Arctic is best described as the world's air-conditioning unit.
The frozen north plays a crucial role in cooling the rest of the planet while reflecting some of the sun's heat back into space.
But it, too, is beginning to overheat.
Last year was the hottest on record in the Arctic.
And for several decades, satellite pictures have shown a dramatic decline in Arctic sea ice that is already affecting the lives of humans and animals in the region, from Inuit communities to polar bears.
Scientists say sea ice will largely vanish from the Arctic during the summer within the coming decades.
Experts predict that the impact of the melting ice will be felt across the northern hemisphere as far as Florida or France.
'Things are changing in the Arctic, and that is changing things everywhere else,' said David 'Duke' Snider, the seasoned mariner responsible for navigating the Finnish icebreaker MSV Nordica.
Researchers on the trip sought a first-hand view of the effects of global warming already seen from space.
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Image credit: Associated press