Global warming is one of the biggest challenges that the world faces today. According to data from NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies, average surface temperatures have risen by 0.8 Degrees Celcius since 1880. The change in temperature has doubled in the last fifty years so the times to comes are going to show more drastic melting of polar ice caps and rising water levels.
In order to study the extent of these changes, a team of researchers is embarking upon an ambitious plan. They are going to spend a year locked in ice with their ship, floating through the Arctic Ocean.
The Story Behind the Idea
It all dates back to 1893 when Arctic explorer Fridtjof Nansen had the same idea. He froze his wooden boat into the drifting ice towards the North of Siberia. Although his plan was to reach the North Pole, a feat he couldn’t achieve, the expedition led him into the North Atlantic Ocean. His findings about the
vast body of water and its ice packs made him an international hero.
In 2020, it will be 130 years since Nansen’s feat and in order to pay homage to his efforts, researchers have hatched a plan. A team of 600 scientists, researchers and crew are going to depart from Tromsø, Norway in late September 2019. After travelling north, the ice breaker, Polarstern, will be making its way into a floating block of ice and kill its engines allowing the surroundings to thicken around it.
The mission, known as the Multidisciplinary Drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC) is the result of a collaboration between 17 countries, eight years of planning and a $134 million spending to observe how much the Northern Pole has changed and at what rate things are deteriorating as we speak.
What Scientists Plan to Achieve?
The objective of the mission is to understand why the upper cap of the world is melting almost twice as fast as the lower part. According to Markus Rex, the Climate Scientist from Alfred Wegner Institute in Germany and the coordinator of the expedition, “The Arctic is the epi-center of global warming.” As the Polarstern floats, scientists will disembark and study the ground using sophisticated equipment.
Other members of the team will carry tools to observe the depths of the ocean underneath as well as the skies above. Remote-sensing data, satellite feeds, drones and atmosphere reading aircrafts will come together to help researchers update current climate models that have failed to predict and keep up with the pace at which the Arctic has changed over the past 40 years.
The Arctic Circle has lost 75% of its ice by volume since Nansen came back with his observations. If he were alive today, it is safe to say that he would have barely recognized the place. MOSAiC is taking a step to understand how it went so wrong and what can be done to preserve what’s left.