Skip to main page content
NC Museum of Natural Sciences - Home  



Daily Journals

September 10, 2006

As we approach the end of this incredible adventure, I have started to think about the "so what" of it all. Sure, I have enjoyed the opportunity to see the Arctic and help out with important research; and Art and I have some amazing images and video to share upon our return. But what am I going to do with everything I’ve learned and experienced?

I may have found my answer during a talk given by John Kermond from the NOAA Climate Program Office. His presentation was about the upcoming International Polar Year (IPY), a two-year research and education initiative set to begin March 2007. The IPY program will focus attention on the importance of the Arctic and Antarctic regions by encouraging interdiscipinary research and educational projects.

One of the goals of the IPY will be to help answer the question that was certainly in my mind before this trip and is probably right now in the minds of others, “Why should what happens at the ends of the globe be of concern to me?”

For myself, reading the summary report of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA) helped me understand the importance of the polar regions to the rest of the world. Here are a few of the findings that caught my attention:

  • Arctic climate is now warming rapidly and much larger changes are projected.
  • Arctic warming and its consequences have worldwide implications.
  • The diversity, range and distribution of many animal species will change.
  • Indigenous communities are facing major economic and cultural impacts.
  • Coastal communities and facilities face increasing exposure to storms.
  • Thawing ground will disrupt transportation, buildings and infrastructure.
  • Arctic vegetation zones are very likely to shift, causing wide-ranging impacts.
  • Reduced sea ice is likely to increase marine transport and access to resources.

The findings of the ACIA and my own experiences have convinced me that the Arctic is not an isolated corner of the globe. In fact, it may be the canary in the mine, alerting us to changes that may impact us all.

Sectioning an ice core sampleAnd so back to my first question, “What am I going to do with everything I’ve learned?” As an individual, I will follow polar research projects such as the ones conducted during this cruise and by the Tara during her two-year deployment. As an educator, I will take advantage of the high-profile platform created by IPY to share my newly found appreciation of the Arctic ecosystem with students, colleagues and the public.

—Mike Dunn


For information about U.S. participation in the upcoming International Polar Year, go to


<< Previous | Daily Journals | Next >>

Kapitan Dranitsyn