Science World editor Patty Janes in front of the Healy. (Photo: Patty Janes)
Patty Janes, Editor of Scholastic’s Science World magazine spent five weeks on board a U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker last May. Follow her adventures conducting scientific experiments at the top of the globe and dealing with some of the harshest weather on the planet!
April 24, 2006 — Fairbanks, Alaska
Welcome to Fairbanks, Alaska! My name is Patty Janes, and I am the editor of a science magazine for teens called Science World. You’ll be learning a lot about me as you read my daily journals over the next five weeks. So for now all you need to know is that I am on assignment. My mission? To take you on an arctic adventure to the northern Bering Sea off the coast of Alaska, all while you enjoy the comfort of your classroom.
The first stop: Fairbanks, Alaska where I’ve come for safety training. That’s because the arctic can be an unforgiving place. The Bering Sea’s 2.3 million square kilometers (850,000 square miles) of water is said to be one of the world’s coldest and stormiest seas. And with winter temperatures sometimes plunging as low as -51 degrees Celsius (-60 degrees Fahrenheit), thick ice can form. Anyone traveling there has to be prepared for the region’s harsh weather, and any other dangers that might arise.
Luckily, I’ll be at sea during May, when temperatures are more bearable. Even so, the winter’s ice may still be around. To plow through the potentially ice-covered waters, I’ll have to board the Healy—a U.S. Coast Guard cutter. The 420 foot-long icebreaker is designed so that it can slice and ram its way through ice as thick as 8 feet.
The icebreaker’s primary function is to serve as a research platform for scientists. It can hold up to 35 researchers. I’ll be joining a team of scientists as they study the plants and animals that live in the Bering Sea, and how this ecosystem is changing as temperatures all around the globe heat up. The researchers want to learn more about how global warming is affecting the sea’s air-breathing animals, like gray whales, bearded seals, and deep-diving ducks called eiders.
Before the ship sets sail on May 7, be sure to check out these Internet sites to learn more about the Healy and some of the marine animals that we’re sure to spot!
Luckily, I’ll be at sea during May, when temperatures are more bearable. Even so, the winter’s ice may still be around.
Want to learn more?
You can follow Patty’s adventures by checking out her diary entries on the expedition’s virtual base camp. To follow the entries in order, start at the bottom of the Web page and work your way up!
Are you interested in how environmental changes affect the world? Let Scholastic News Online be your guide! Learn about what Kid Reporters are saying about the changing climate by reading their articles in this special report.
Patricia Janes is editor of Science World.