Five hundred miles from the North Pole, a scientific expedition is beset by the sea ice it has come to study. Three red kayaks, tiny specks in an austere wilderness, the team is in shock, its way forward blocked by a crumpled and pulverized wreckage of floes. Conditions are unrecognizable, no research can be done. With the Arctic Ocean collapsing all around them, they must escape the chaos by traversing Nares Strait, the most formidable passage of the polar North.
Flanked by rugged polar mountains and uninhabited shorelines, Nares Strait is incredibly remote. Its ice-choked and seldom navigated waters mark the boundary between Greenland and northernmost Canada. As a portal to the Arctic Ocean’s recently designated Last Ice Area, the Strait has become a microcosm for an entire region in transition. Across the Arctic, a white, frozen ocean is giving way to dark, ice-free seas, and more of the sun’s energy is getting absorbed instead of being reflected back out to space. The albedo team understands this well. Like war zone journalists, they are embedded into the front lines of Arctic Ocean change. Their mission: to explore the essential role of sea ice in balancing our planet’s climate.