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On the front lines of climate change
Description: The gravity of the Arctic's plight hit home for Michael Byers as he stood on the deck of the Canadian Arctic research ship Amundsen, where some of Canada's most expert scientists were coming face-to-face with their worst fears.
Date: 19 January 2007
Author: Scott Simpson
Source: Vancouver Sun
The gravity of the Arctic's plight hit home for Michael Byers as he stood on the deck of the Canadian Arctic research ship Amundsen, where some of Canada's most expert scientists were coming face-to-face with their worst fears.

The Amundsen is named for the intrepid Norwegian explorer who was the first to navigate along Canada's vast northern perimeter, which is usually locked in ice for up to 11 months a year.

But the vessel was moving with stunning ease through the fabled Northwest Passage -- almost everywhere it went it was greeted by open seas and moderate air temperatures.

In the 13 days that the University of B.C. professor spent aboard on that late-October voyage, only once did the rebuilt Coast Guard icebreaker need to do the job for which it was originally designed.

By the time Byers disembarked, the Amundsen had written a place for itself in the history books as the first seagoing craft since time immemorial to successfully navigate the Northwest Passage at a time of year when human experience and Arctic ice records suggest it should be shut tight and turning back all intruders.

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