Polar researchers Marc Cornelissen, 46, and Philip de Roo, 30, have drowned near Bathurst Island during an expedition to study thinning sea ice in the Arctic.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police received a distress call April 29, and “a pilot flying over the spot reported seeing open water, scattered equipment, and a lone sled dog sitting on the broken ice,” Mother Jones reports. “By last Friday, rescuers had called off the search. The pair are presumed to have drowned, victims of the same thin ice they had come to study.”
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A European Space Agency scientist quoted by E&E News said the thinning where Cornelissen and de Roo died may or may not have been due to climate change. “Perhaps the ice had been thinned by ocean currents that deliver warm water from below, or by the wind, which could generate open water areas,” said Mark Drinkwater. “The impacts of the warming on ice thickness regionally can be unpredictable.”
McDonnell notes that “the Arctic is warming twice as fast as anywhere else on Earth. We rely on the work of scientists like these to know exactly what is happening there and how it will affect those of us who choose to stay safe in warmer, drier places. Their deaths are a testament to the dedication and fearlessness required to stand on the front lines of climate change.”
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