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A quartet of American adventurists -- Paul Ridley, Collin West, Neal Mueller and Scott Mortensen -- is planning to row across the Arctic Ocean in an effort to raise awareness about the realities of global warming and climate-change.

Of course a stunt like this would never have been possible before the ice in the Arctic Ocean began melting at an alarming rate a few years back.

The planned date of departure is July 15 (from Inuvik, Canada) and the men estimate it will take them thirty days of nonstop rowing - taking turns sleeping and resting - to complete the mission (which will end at Provideniya, Russia, 1300 miles away).

Here are some additional details:

The boat is equipped with a desalinator to convert 400 pounds of saltwater each day into 24 liters of drinking water.  Solar panels on the cabin of the boat will provide power for a VHF radio and a navigation system, as well as a laptop...

But it will not be all fun and games for the intrepid crew.  
As the four adventurers test their endurance, they'll also be doing some experiments and observation for Hagelin and Hopcroft.

It's research that touches on the dire future of the Arctic -- but also stirs up some imaginative possibilities; for instance, could we someday herd whales the direction in which we'd like them to go, such as away from an oil spill?

For Hopcroft, the team will collect data on plankton in the Arctic Ocean.

"We have a large net we cast overboard two times a day," Mueller said, "to measure plankton content in this newly unfrozen ocean."

They also plan to be doing some other crucial research on whales while they're rowing.

The men plan on tweeting their adventure.

The L.A. Times article also looks at how life in the Arctic has changed in the last decade:

Expanded oil exploration is just one among myriad effects of climate change in the Arctic.  Shipping routes are multiplying. Ten freighters went through the region in 2010, Mortensen said, 34 last year, and 100 are expected to pass through what is becoming an ice-free shipping route in summers. Russell Hopcroft, a well-known marine biologist from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, explained in an email interview with The Times that the Arctic Ocean will continue to be covered by ice for most of the year, although that ice is "younger" than it was in the past. But scientists predict "that we will hit conditions where the Arctic Ocean may be virtually ice-free during summer by the middle to end of this century."

"Functionally, we are now far enough along that projection," he said, "that commercial shipping through the Arctic's margins during late summer ... is now possible."

For many of the inhabitants of the region, however, the scenario may not be quite so rosy:
Adding to the human disturbance, some Alaskan villagers have been displaced as loss of sea ice has increased erosion of land, and the ground under their feet has become unstable as the permafrost has begun to thaw.
The men can be followed on Facebook at in addition to Twitter.

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