Monday 14 October 2019

Going with the floe: Scientists to set up Arctic ice camp

A floe in the Arctic Sea north of Russia will serve as a base for the Mosaic mission.

(Alfred-Wegener-Institut/Esther Horvath via AP)
(Alfred-Wegener-Institut/Esther Horvath via AP)

By Associated Press Reporters

Scientists have chosen an ice floe on which to set up a research camp for a year-long international expedition to study the Arctic.

After several days of searching, researchers found a suitable floe measuring about 1.5 miles by 2.2 miles in the Arctic Sea north of Russia to serve as a base, Germany’s Alfred Wegener Institute said.

“It may not be the perfect floe, but it’s the best one in this part of the Arctic, and offers better working conditions than we could have expected after a warm Arctic summer,” mission leader Markus Rex said.

Choosing the right floe is crucial to the plan of allowing expedition vessel RV Polarstern to drift with the current throughout winter, when an icebreaker would not normally be able to penetrate so deeply into the central Arctic.

“We’ll have to wait and see if it’s also stable enough to withstand the autumnal storms that are now brewing,” Mr Rex said, adding that the team is “prepared for all scenarios”.

The 140 million euro (£125 million) Mosaic (Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate) expedition involves hundreds of scientists from 19 countries, including Germany, the UK, the US, Russia, France and China.

Their aim is to collect data from the remote and inhospitable north to improve the scientific models that underpin their understanding of the Arctic and climate change.

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