Tom Clarke on his first night in the Arctic

Science Correspondent Tom Clarke blogs about the prospect of camping in the Arctic, before he joins a group of scientists to discover what is happening to our oceans

I’ve done a fair bit of camping before. Occasionally, even, on the odd assignment for Channel 4 News. But I’ve never pitched a tent 500 kilometres from the nearest hot shower on frozen arctic ice floating on top of 200 metres of ocean. This however, is exactly what we’re going to be doing starting this weekend as we join a small team of scientists at a temporary ice base in the Canadian arctic.

Few people brave the tail end of the arctic winter out on exposed sea ice. But these are scientists with a mission: answering one of the biggest questions in the current climate change debate: what’s happening to the oceans? And because it’s the arctic ocean that could be most influenced by our changing atmosphere these researchers prefer their science on ice.

The main priority for the team is to understand ocean acidification. Five years ago no one save a few oceanographers had heard of the phenomenon. Now it dominates discussions about the future impacts of our changing atmosphere. Ocean acidification is exactly what it says – the seas getting slightly more acidic as increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere dissolve in the ocean. We’re not talking vinegar or lemon juice here – but a tiny shift in the oceans chemistry towards the acidic looks to be having a major impact.

Tom Clarke, Channel 4, 8 April 2010. Full article.

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