APPROACHING CORNWALLIS ISLAND –- Today is our last full day on the ship after two weeks at sea. We should arrive near the coast of Resolute sometime later tonight, and then Paul, the Coast Guard helicopter pilot, will ferry everyone back and forth to the tiny town where many will get charter flights home. (There's no wharf on Cornwallis, and there's a full crew change in addition to our departure.) We'll be staying in Resolute -– population 229 give or take –- for a few days to talk to the Inuit about what they've seen with climate change. Plus there is a research station there called Polar Shelf, and we're going to interview some scientists there, too.
(CBS / Chloe Arensberg)
I don't think I'll ever have another experience like this, and it's been more than I could've ever imagined. The Arctic has become part of my being, and I hope that feeling never leaves. Standing on the deck of the Louis it's impossible not to think of the early explorers and the hardships they endured –- or succumbed to. Now our satellite data system is called "explorer." Incidentally in case you're wondering how we've been able to send back video and photos and blogs while underway, it's all thanks to tracking capabilities within the unit. As we go further to the northwest though, we're really pushing the limits. The satellite we have to hit is well south of us, and as we edge towards the top of the world it's harder and harder to stay within the necessary range. When we left Halifax, the angle of our satellite dish was about 31 degrees. Now it's at 5 degrees, and anything below that likely won't work. But when we get to Resolute we can set up a stationary unit that should be fine.
Yesterday was filled with adventure, from standing atop of a rocky plateau on Devon Island to interviewing the chief mate, Bryon Gibbons, onboard a Zodiac with an iceberg as a backdrop. We even had a chance to (safely) drink water from the iceberg. Magical. (Yes, it was very cold, too.) See photos. I'm hoping to have time tomorrow for a final recap, but we've all learned so much. And from my father to the extended family of the crew and scientists onboard, we've been treated so well the whole way. Soon the challenge will be to take all our interviews and research and turn them into stories for the CBS Evening News. As I said at the beginning of our journey, I hope that what we bring back will contribute to the greater discussion about climate change and global warming. But if there's one thing I've come to appreciate even more about oceanographic or atmospheric science, it's that there are no easy answers. That said, we are most definitely (in my opinion) in a race to understand what's happening to our planet and why.