March 13th, 2012
10:21 AM ET

Why exploring the ocean is mankind's next giant leap

Editor's Note: Philippe Cousteau, a special correspondent for CNN,  continues the legacy of his ocean-exploring family -  including his late grandfather Jacques Cousteau - through his work with EarthEcho International. The non-profit organization, which he co-founded with his sister and mother, empowers youth to become involved with environmental causes.

By Philippe Cousteau, Special to CNN

“Space…the final frontier.” Not only has this classic phrase dazzled the many millions of fans of the Star Trek franchise, some could argue it has defined a big part of the American ideal for the last 50 years.  The 1960s were dominated by the race to the moon and Americans were rightfully proud to be the first nation to make it there.

However, another incredible feat happened in 1960 that is largely forgotten today.  For the first time in history, on January 23, 1960, two men, Lt. Don Walsh and Jacques Picard, descended to the deepest part of the ocean, the bottom of the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench located in the western Pacific Ocean.  While this feat made international news,  the race to the depths of this planet was quickly overshadowed by the race to the moon - and no one has ever gone that deep since.

And for the last 50  years, we have largely continued to look up. But that trend may be changing.

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July 13th, 2011
03:41 PM ET

Extreme science in the Arctic Circle

In March 2011, an elite group of scientists headed to one of the coldest places on Earth to carry out vital research on global warming. Joining them for part of the journey was a three-person team from CNN, led by special correspondent and environmentalist Philippe Cousteau. Cousteau documented their journey in his blog, below. Learn more about the journey here.

(CNN) - Catlin Ice Base: Mission critical

I woke up this morning to snow falling on my head caused by the accumulation of my breath freezing on the inside of the tent all night long. Wiping sleep from my eyes, I wrestled with my gear as I slipped out of my sleeping bag into the -35 degree centigrade air.

Getting up in the morning can be a struggle in the best of times but in these conditions it is downright brutal. Discussions during breakfast were full of good energy as we had a long day of science ahead of us. As I spend more time with the scientists I continue to be astounded at the sometimes fundamental nature of their work.

As one scientist explained, global climate models have always assumed that the Arctic does not transfer carbon through the sea ice but no one has ever tried to find out if that is true or not. The answer to this question could have huge consequences for our understanding of climate modeling. In 2011 we still know next to nothing about the most important ocean on the planet - a shocking and irresponsible oversight.

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