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Studying Arctic Climate Change

The salesperson at the outdoor store looked at me like I was crazy when I asked for sweaters and long underwear. It was 85 degrees outside in Manhattan, and here I was shopping for fleece and wool socks.

But it's going to be necessary as I make my way northward aboard the Louis S. St.-Laurent icebreaker into Canada's Arctic. The ship officially departs Halifax, N.S., on Wednesday, and I'm in the middle of last-minute preparations.

The purpose of the 20-day journey is to learn more about climate change from the impressive gathering of scientists, many of who have been traveling to the Arctic for 30 years or more. They will be testing and studying all forms of wildlife and environment, from plankton to whales to ice floes to polar bears. We'll make our way up through the Davis Strait or "iceberg alley," past Greenland, along parts of the historic Northwest Passage and into Resolute, Nunavut, home to Canada's second northernmost community.

In Resolute we'll also spend time with the locals and Inuit learning about their remote community and the people there. In all, in this International Polar Year, 50,000 scientists from 63 countries will conduct the first comprehensive study of changes in the Arctic and its surrounding environment in 50 years.

I've got notepads, reading material, audio and video recording devices, satellite hookups, etc. Check back here for a daily (I hope) blog and regular reporter's notebook. Along with me will be CBS Evening News producer Chloe Arensberg and CBS News cameraperson Mark LaGanga.

And it just so happens my dad will be on the ship, too, as he's an electronics technician for oceanography and has been going to the Arctic for nearly 30 years. Finally, all those photos and home movies he shot will make more sense. (More on that later.)

It's the trip of a lifetime and will cover hundreds of miles. I'm excited, and eager to learn more about this important – and critical – region of our world. Every journey begins with that first step…I'll just have winter hiking boots on for this one.

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