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In early October 1997, I was part of a large party of polar scientists establishing the Surface Heat Budget of the Arctic (SHEBA) ice station, which was slated to drift for a year in multiyear pack ice over the Canadian Basin in the western Arctic Ocean. Its purpose was to assess the various energy components responsible for maintaining the perennial sea ice of the Arctic. Earlier, after a long week waiting in Tuktoyaktuk, NWT. for decent flying weather, most of us had boarded the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Des Grosiellier, which was to serve as our drifting base for the next year, anticipating an arduous trip following our escort icebreaker (the CCS Louis St. Laurent) as it battered its way through thick ice toward the center of the Beaufort Gyre. Instead, those of us who had been in that part of the Arctic before were astonished at how easy our passage was in ice often a meter or less thick. After a long search during which we began to wonder if we would even find a floe with a decent chance of surviving through the next summer, we eventually settled on ice about 2 m thick, and began the intense activity of deploying the various instrument systems...