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article imageAmbitious project afloat to get info on climate change in Arctic

By Karen Graham     Feb 20, 2017 in Environment
The MOSAiC project is being billed as the single biggest Arctic expedition ever planned, with researchers hoping to gather valuable new insights into the Arctic, a region where climate is changing faster than any other place on Earth.
The German research icebreaker Polarstern will be playing a key role in an upcoming year-long expedition to study climate change in the Arctic, according to the BBC. Beginning in September 2019 and lasting through October 2020, the 120 meter-long (400 foot) manned research vessel will be deployed in and drift with the Arctic sea ice pack.
German research vessel POLARSTERN off the British Station Rothera  Antarctic Peninsula in 1994.
German research vessel POLARSTERN off the British Station Rothera, Antarctic Peninsula in 1994.
Hannes Grobe/Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research
On the Polarstern will be scientists from Germany, the UK, America, Russia, china, and other nations. The €63m (£54m; $67m) expedition is nearly all funded with key contributions coming from international sources.
The research vessel will also have a constellation of measurements, including buoys, ice-tethered profilers, remote stations, underwater drifters, unmanned aerial systems, aircraft, additional ships, and satellites.
The Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC)
German scientist Markus Rex, who is affiliated with the Alfred Wegener Institute in Potsdam will be leading the MOSAiC project. He outlined the goals of the project at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) held in Boston, Mass February 16-20.
A very large  wet lab  on the Polarstern.
A very large "wet lab" on the Polarstern.
Hannes Grobe/Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research
Professor Rex points out that "the decline of Arctic sea-ice is much faster than the climate models can reproduce and we need better climate models to make better predictions for the future. There is a potential that in a few decades the Arctic will be ice-free in summer. That would be a different world and we need to know about that in advance; we need to know is that going to happen or will that not happen?"
Goals of MOSAiC expedition
To that end, the expedition's observations will be specifically designed to record and understand the important processes within the atmosphere-ice-ocean system that impact the sea-ice mass and energy budgets. Specifically, observing sea-ice as it evolves from new first-year ice to multi-year ice and eventual decay - An observation of the full life-cycle of sea ice.
MOSAiC Observatory
During the 2,500 kilometers (1,550-mile) expedition, the floating observatory will follow the Transpolar Drift towards the North Pole and on to the Fram Strait, more than likely starting in, or near, the East Siberian Sea.
To most effectively understand, explain, and project changes in the Arctic climate system, models must be used along with observations. And while observations are necessary for evaluating and developing models, models are ultimately needed to integrate the complex collections of physical processes into a consistent framework that can be used to forecast weather, predict sea-ice concentrations, and project future climate conditions.
MOSAiC Observatory
So actual observations will play an important role in the development of more accurate modeling of future changes in the climate, hence the need for this expedition. MOSAiC modeling and observational activities will be closely linked with international modeling efforts organized by the World Weather Research Program and World Climate Research Program, such as the Year of Polar Prediction, reads the MOSAiC website.
More about MOSAIC project, sea ice mass, climate science, North pole, changing the fastest
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