Ravenna Koenig

Arctic researchers just starting out face an intriguing but unsettling reality: much of the sea ice that's covered the Arctic Ocean for thousands of years may rapidly melt away over their careers. In fact, some projections say the region may see its first ice-free summer in modern history by 2040.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Thanksgiving is upon us, and once again, we suspect the political divides the country is living through may make for some awkward conversations at dinner tables. So we thought we'd try to help with that a little by talking to some folks who've been thinking about how to engage in more productive conversations and maybe even do a little bit to repair the social fabric.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

We're going way up north for our next story to a ship in the middle of the Arctic Ocean. The scientists aboard are there to do fieldwork, which is easier said than done, as Ravenna Koenig reports.

Arctic sea ice is one of the most dramatic indicators of the changing climate. Ice cover on the Arctic Ocean is in some months about half what it was decades ago, and its thickness has shrunk, by some estimates 40%.

High up in the Arctic Ocean close to the North Pole, a solitary ship floats in darkness, moored to an expansive piece of ice.

If all goes according to plan, the ship will remain with that ice for an entire year, so that scientists on board can study the Arctic system and how it's responding to climate change.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

One of the most ambitious polar science expeditions in history just passed a critical hurdle.

After months of monitoring the ice by satellite and several days of surveying specific ice floes in the central Arctic Ocean, the scientists of the Multidisciplinary Drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC) have selected the piece of ice they plan to freeze into for the next year.

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

The mission is known as the Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate, or MOSAiC. Its overarching goal is to collect a vast trove of data that can help improve how the Arctic is represented in climate models.

To do that, a group of scientists will try to freeze an icebreaker into the ice — for an entire year.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

If you want to incorporate quality time with animals into your yoga practice, you have a lot of options these days. There's puppy yoga, cat yoga, and perhaps the most famous — goat yoga.

Now, in Fairbanks, Alaska, there's a new offering: a yoga class with fauna particular to the cold northern climes of the subarctic. Reindeer.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

In the northernmost town in the United States, the sun stops appearing above the horizon in November and doesn't make it back up until January.

That first sunrise of the new year is the pivot-point on which winter turns and begins to move toward spring, delivering people on the northern Arctic coast of Alaska from the long spell of darkness.

When the sun comes up in Utqiaġvik, it makes a dramatic entrance: a thumbnail of neon pink inching above the horizon. And people are so, so glad to see it.

People who live in the town of Utqiaġvik have seen dramatic effects of climate change during their lifetimes.

Utqiaġvik, formerly known as Barrow, sits right on the edge of the Arctic Ocean at the very top of Alaska. It's the northernmost town in the United States, and home to about 4,400. The coastline here used to be edged with sea ice for nearly the whole year. But that period is getting shorter and shorter, and as a result Utqiaġvik locals are dealing with coastal erosion and are changing how they hunt in the fall.

A milestone oil development project in Alaska's Arctic waters is having to extend its construction timeline to accommodate the warming climate. The recently approved Liberty Project — poised to become the first oil production facility in federal Arctic waters — has altered its plans due to the shrinking sea ice season.

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