Courtesy of CBS News, 60 Minutes, North Pole.

60 Minutes reports, “Arctic sea routes will happen in our lifetime, so sailors, scientists and engineers are trying to figure out how to survive where mankind never has.”

Open water swimmers know well first-hand that the ocean’s waters are warming, a position that not everyone in the United States believes or agrees on.

But oil companies, scientists, the military, and swimmers like Lewis Pugh understand that the issue of global warming and its effects on the polar regions and the ocean’s waters are very real and accelerating.

In 2007, Pugh undertook the first open water swim at the Geographic North Pole. The 1 km (0.62 mile) swim, across an open patch of sea in -1.7 °C water took 18 minutes 50 seconds to complete. Jørgen Amundsen, the great grand nephew of Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, paced Pugh by skiing alongside him during the swim.

The swim coincided with the lowest coverage of Arctic sea ice ever recorded.

In his autobiography Pugh wrote, “Ironically, global warming played no small part in undermining the entire expedition. We believed that the greater melting of summer ice would open up large areas of sea and allow us to paddle north at good speed. What we did not fully appreciate was that to the north of us there was a widespread melting of sea ice off the coast of Alaska and the New Siberian Islands and the ice was being pushed south towards us …

The evidence of climate change was stark. Fourteen months before I’d sailed north and I’d seen a preponderance of multi-year ice about three metres thick north of Spitsbergen, but this time most of the ice was just a metre thick.”

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