The Arctic simply isn't as cold as it used to be. Researchers were immediately surprised to find the sea ice only about six feet thickÂ—a third less than expected. But is it due to global warming? Computer models conflict. One shows the Arctic ice packÂ—the size of the United StatesÂ—melting. The other is far less severe. But scientists hope Project SHEBA will provide the answer and improve global climate forecasts.
For the complete report on Project SHEBA from the CBS Evening News click here, or view the first-person report below.
This sign post in Barrow, Alaska, leaves little doubt that Bowen and crew are at the far reaches of civilization.
(All photos: CBS)
From Barrow, the crew would set out on a journey 300 miles to the north, deep in the Arctic Circle. Once on the floating ice station, they'd be just 900 miles from the North Pole. The only way to reach the Project SHEBA station is by plane. Breaking ice is visible below. The Canadian icebreaker Des Groseilliers was stuck in the ice pack last October. The $20 million project will wrap up and the icebreaker will push away this Fall. Landing near the station can be treacherous. Warming temperatures have caused cracks in the middle of this makeshift runway. Scientists say temperatures in the arctic were definitely warmer this past year, as this crack in the ice helps illustrate. The floe that is home to ice station Sheba has drifted 800 miles since the station was established in October. Everything from the ice to the water below it to the arctic air is being probed by SHEBA scientists. The CBS News camera rew found it difficult to work in the harsh arctic conditions, where it felt like -41 degrees Celsius with the wind chill. Correspondent Jerry Bowen and Cameraman Tom Rapier head back to Barrow aboard this propeller plane.
CBS Evening News Reports
PART I Of A CBS News Special Report
Changes In The Air
PART II Of A CBS News Special Report
A Window On Earth's Climates
A December 1997 Report
Deep Freeze Or Baked Alaska?