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Ice Everywhere

(CBS / Daniel Sieberg)
NEAR BAFFIN ISLAND -– Ice. We wanted it, and we got it. Last night we began encountering ice floes and pack ice, some only a year old, some much older and therefore likely thicker and harder. It made for a tough night's rest, banging and bouncing as the Louis broke through it all. But the views are spectacular. As the sun flirted with the horizon around midnight it was almost otherworldly. This morning it's equally amazing, and we've spotted a few seals and Arctic gulls already. We expect it to be like this for a while, surrounded by ice, and that's just fine with us. Oh, and no crossing ceremony yet but I did hear through my sources that it's slated for Friday afternoon.

The helicopter is out now with one of the world's leading Arctic scientists, Eddy Carmack, and the Coast Guard ice observer, Jan-Andrej Skopalik. (The captain and the research team want to ensure the next science stop is accessible enough, which is standard procedure.) Yesterday we had the opportunity of a lifetime when we landed on an iceberg near Greenland. It was pretty big, more than half a mile long and easily safe enough for Paul Mosher, the helicopter pilot, to land on with its flat surface. We didn't have much time on it, but did manage to shoot some TV stuff and take a few photos. Water was streaming off it as it melted, and pools of water had gathered all over it. The experience is hard to describe. But it's a bit like being an explorer and setting foot on uncharted land. Without sounding too wacky I'd say it was a borderline spiritual experience. (OK, I know that sounds wacky but it's true.) The pictures are in the photo archive.

The flurry of science activity continues at all hours onboard now as the scientists have enacted a rotating 24-hour schedule. They're contending with the changing conditions, too, and that affects everything from preserving delicate plankton samples in the fluctuating temperatures to braving chilly winds on deck. One of the sediment scientists, Vlad Kostylev is occasionally sending down an underwater camera to depths near 600 meters, and at one point in the Labrador Sea he believes he may have recorded the northernmost sighting of an Arctic coral. Could it be related to global warming? I asked him, and he's not sure yet. More science-y tidbits soon.

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