MOSAiC: The Largest Year-Round Expedition to the North Pole
The largest expedition ever to the high north, which set sail last September, has reached the North Pole with its crew of hundreds of scientists looking to study on of the planet’s least understood region. The research will reveal the actual speed and nature of global climate change.
Take 600 scientists from around the world. Put them on the world’s most advanced research icebreaker the Polarstern, and sail to the North Pole. Leave the ship to freeze in the sea ice, and then slowly drift along with it following the natural flow of the Arctic sea during the polar winter. Over 12 months, collect a massive amount of data from scientific studies and help develop new models to predict the future of Arctic regions and global climate change. In a nutshell, this is MOSAiC.
The Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC) will be the largest year-round expedition into the central Arctic, exploring the Arctic climate system. One of the most crucial challenges for the team is figuring out how to secure high-bandwidth remote communications from the Arctic. When we learned about MOSAiC, we realized we could help their climate scientists share their data from the North Pole promptly with research institutes around the world using our network.
MOSAiC scientists setting up camp. Photos by Esther Horvath
With our two polar-orbiting satellites, we can collect data directly from the North Pole and make it available online to other scientists around the world, accelerating the data analysis. Moreover, we can provide a cost-effective means to relay back the thousands of GBs of data that will be gathered throughout the expedition. So instead of having to wait until the Polarstern ship returns to port in September 2020, MOSAiC will have the chance to send out data daily over Kepler satellites. This service will save time, money, and, most importantly, improve the ability of MOSAiC scientists to carry out their critical mission.
Polarstern during MOSAiC. Photo by Esther Horvath
Polar regions are the least understood place on Earth. Driven by the thirst for knowledge, scientific institutes from 19 countries have joined forces to discover what happens in the North Pole over the winter. Their goal is to fix the uncertainties we have today on current Earth system models, particularly when it comes to showing the speed and nature of climate change in the Arctic.
The Arctic is warming twice as fast as other regions, and ice is melting at an incredible pace. So fast that currently available models – dating back to 20 years - have turned obsolete for describing and predicting what will happen next. The MOSAiC expedition will seek to fix that, and the results derived from it will update and calibrate the standards used today and open the discussion around how to improve Earth system models to predict the future of the Arctic better.
Scientist setting up Ocean City site. Photo by Stefan Hendricks.
In charge of MOSAiC’s logistics is the Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), from Germany. They are responsible for leading this international expedition that involves the joint efforts of many countries around the world. With over USD 158 million in funding, the most advanced technology on a research icebreaker, and an astonishing quantity of planning and logistics, this will be the largest expedition to the North Pole ever in history.
Stay tuned for more information in the next few weeks as we share with you details about the challenges these scientists will face as they set out to accomplish the impossible.