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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