Climate change: Arctic expedition to drift in sea-ice for a year

Posted: September 20, 2019 by oldbrew in climate, Ocean dynamics, research, sea ice, Travel
Tags: ,

Arctic sea ice [image credit:]

This time researchers plan to get stuck on purpose, unlike several earlier notoriously over-ambitious climate-themed ship fiascos in the supposedly ‘vanishing’ polar sea ice in recent years, like this one. With such a massive budget this time, what could possibly go wrong? (That’s rhetorical of course.)

It’s being described as the biggest Arctic science expedition of all time, says BBC News.

The German Research Vessel Polarstern is about to head for the far north where it intends to drift in the sea-ice for an entire year.

Hundreds of scientists will visit the ship in that time to use it as a base from which to study the climate.

The MOSAiC (Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate) project is expected to cost about €130m (£120m/$150m).

Its scale means it must be an international effort. RV Polarstern will be supported by icebreakers from Russia, Sweden and China.

In deep winter, when these vessels can’t pierce the floes to reach the German ship, aeroplanes and long-range helicopters will deliver the supplies and relief teams.

MOSAiC’s objective is to study all aspects of the climate system in the Arctic. Instrument stations will be set up on the ice around the Polarstern, some of them up to 50km away.

The ice, the ocean, the atmosphere, even the wildlife – all will be sampled. The year-long investigations are designed to give more certainty to the projections of future change.

Prof Markus Rex from Germany’s Alfred Wegener Institute in Potsdam is the expedition leader. He said the Arctic was currently warming at twice the rate of the rest of the planet but that the climate models were highly uncertain as to how the temperature trends would develop in the coming decades.

“We don’t have any robust climate predictions for the Arctic and the reason is we don’t understand the processes there very well,” he explained.

“That’s because we were never able to observe them year round and certainly not in winter when the ice is at its thickest and we can’t break it with our research vessels,” he told BBC News.

Continued here.

  1. HM says:

    Nice animation of the ‘Transpolar Drift_Stream/
    [video src="" /]

    I stared at that & at the BBC map. Apparently the strength and volume of three Siberian rivers (in the animation) helps determine what percentage of ‘transpolar drift’ takes two or four years,

    The cynic in me guesses something about the publicized Arctic melt prediction not coming true frustrates them.

  2. erl happ says:

    Jees and I thought the science was settled.

  3. oldbrew says:

    Those who loudly forecast the end of Arctic sea ice at various dates in the past obviously did not ‘understand the processes’. 🤔

    We still await their confessions of ignorance – could be a long wait.

  4. tom0mason says:

    I seriously think Al Gore should join them. As only then he might appreciate (maybe) when winter comes to polar regions, it’s very dark and very cold for about 5 month of the year.

    For regions inside the polar circles, the maximum lengths of the time that the Sun is completely below the horizon varies from zero a few degrees beyond the Arctic Circle and Antarctic Circle to 179 days at the Poles.[citation needed] However, not all this time is classified as polar night since sunlight may be visible because of refraction. The time when any part of the Sun is above the horizon at the poles is 186 days. The preceding numbers are average numbers: the ellipticity of the Earth’s orbit makes the South Pole receive a week more of Sun-below-horizon than the North Pole (see equinox).


  5. Steven Fraser says:

    With people coming and going by air all year, should be quite a carbon budget 😉

    I really hope they set up a bunch of 2-metre temp stations on the flows, and take actual temps. IMO, would be useful for comparison with the extrapolated temps for the arctic.

  6. ivan says:

    Since they intend to break up the polar ice whatever they find will be totally invalid.

    If they want to run a valid experiment they need to let their ice strengthened ship be captured by the ice and use some form of over the ice transport (dog sled maybe) rather than artificially smashing the ice to simulate Arctic ice breakup.

    It seems to be typical of the climate science mob – if it doesn’t fit the unvalidated models we will make it fit by forcing the data.

  7. hunterson7 says:

    I think they might find out the hard way just how little they know, and how much if what they think they do know is fallacious.

  8. oldbrew says:

    Polar bears could be a problem especially in the continuously dark winter.

  9. Phoenix44 says:

    We don’t know what’s happening or why, but we do know it’s bad.

    And one years observations will solve that?

  10. Gamecock says:

    Can you get wi-fi up there?

  11. Jim says:

    Interesting. I would wonder, if they are for real? If they will be asking the us military for their past studies from our Russian spying missions. They recorded much of the same data points and produced innumeral reports. That would give the researchers many nights of excellent reported data points to justify their use of a icebreaker for that long. But they are in the wrong areas, for the best science, they needed a float by one of the volcano ranges there. The real ice melter.

  12. Gamecock says:

    If Arctic sea ice is good, why do we have ice breakers?

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