In one of the most ambitious Arctic research expedition in history, Germany is going to sail its 120m-long research vessel, the Polarstern and allow it to drift into sea ice for a year-long expedition.
The Mosaic (Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate) mission will be the first since Nansen’s as to understand why the arctic region is warming faster than any other place on Earth.It is an important mission as last month, the Arctic region recorded the lowest extent of sea-ice for the month of January, according to satellite imagery. The region also recorded temperature that was several degrees above the average.
The Polarstern will approach the Fram Strait, the body of water between Greenland and Svalbard. The vessel full of equipment will be ready to take samples of air, water, and ice for new and fascinating insight into the climate system.
During the year-long expedition, beginning in 2019, teams of scientists will disperse across the polar cap to take measurements and make reports that have never been possible before. They will be protected from polar bears by armed guards.
The outline of the mission was explained at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Boston held last week.
Professor Markus Rex, Head of Atmospheric Physics, of the Alfred Wegener Institute in Potsdam, Germany who is co-heading the mission said, “The plan is to travel in summer 2019 when sea ice is thin and its extent is much smaller. We can make our way with our icebreaker Polarstern into the thin sea ice to the Siberian sector of the Arctic. Then we stop the engines and let the Polarstern drift with the sea ice.”
He added, “By November 2019, the vessel will be encased in solid sea ice, temperatures will plunge to as low as -50C and the darkness of polar night will set in”
Under these hostile conditions, the scientists will set up an extensive network of research stations, in some cases traveling 50km from the vessel on snow mobiles.The cost of the project, he said is €50m (£42m) project and it will involve 50 institutions from 14 countries including the United Kingdom, United States, and Russia.
The Mosaic team even plans to make runways on the sea-ice so research planes can take to the air in support of the RV Polarstern.
Changes in weather patterns in the Artic have a direct impact on the weather patterns in Northern Europe and North America. Thus,the expedition will help in gathering valuable insights into the drastic changing weather patterns.