Gimli teacher heads to Arctic on research mission aboard coast guard's Amundsen

Cheryl Bailey is lost for words describing her excitement about a rare trip next week. She is heading up to Canada’s High Arctic to spend 10 days on the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Amundsen, the icebreaker used to research climate change in the Arctic.
Gimli science teacher Cheryl Bailey is leaving for a 10-day trip to Canada's Arctic on-board the CCGS Amundsen later this month. (Supplied photo)

"Lost for words" is how Cheryl Bailey describes her excitement about a trip she's embarking on next week.

The Gimli, Man., science teacher is travelling to Canada's High Arctic to spend 10 days on the Canadian Coast Guard ship Amundsen. It is a state-of-the-art icebreaker used for research in the Arctic.

"I'm beyond excited. It's the chance of a lifetime and it's just such a wonderful, wonderful program," Bailey said.

Next Wednesday, Bailey will fly from Winnipeg to Quebec City to Iqaluit, and then finally to Resolute, Nunavut, where she boards the CCGS Amundsen.

Most of the scientific research will take place near Greenland, she said. The research focuses on a range of topics from water quality to northern organisms to meteorology; most relate to climate change effects. 

The CCGS Amundsen pictured in July, headed for the Arctic. The research vessel picks up two high school teachers and nine students this September for its Schools On Board program. (Courtesy of ArcticNet)

Bailey and another teacher from Montreal will accompany nine high school students from across Canada to learn more about tests the researchers are conducting aboard the ship. 

"We'll be taking part in as many things as we can," Bailey said, "I'll be doing some work with the students...but I'm also there to learn too."

With evidence of climate change acceleration around the world, especially in Canada's north, Bailey said she tries to connect her students with Arctic research as much as possible. Her students take part in the annual Arctic Science Day at the Fort Whyte Alive and she believes that's partly why she was accepted into the Schools On Board program.

"This is one of the most important topics we can look at in our day and age," she said. "The Arctic is important to all of us."

Sea ice in the Arctic is shrinking by a rate of about 13.3 per cent a decade, according to NASA researchers. Scientists predict the Arctic will be ice-free during the summer season by the end of this century, and perhaps as early as 2020.

"We think of the Arctic as being this pristine place and in many aspects it is," she said. "Keeping it that way is really important."