Touchdown on the gravel runway at Cherskii in remote northeastern Siberia sent the steel toe of a rubber boot into my buttocks. The shoe had sprung free from gear stuffed between me and my three colleagues packed into a tiny prop plane. This was the last leg of my research team’s five-day journey from the University of Alaska Fairbanks across Russia to the Northeast Science Station in the land of a million lakes, which we were revisiting as part of our ongoing efforts to monitor a stirring giant that could greatly speed up global warming.