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MIL OSI Translation. Region: Germany / Deutschland –

Source: Federal Ministry of Education and Research

12.10.2020Press release: 150/2020

After 389 days, the largest Arctic research expedition of all time ends successfully in Bremerhaven

Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek receives the POLARSTERN in Bremerhaven. © BMBF / Hans-Joachim RickelAfter more than a year in the central Arctic, the research vessel Polarstern returned to its home port in Bremerhaven on Monday, October 12th. Accompanied by a fleet of oncoming ships to greet it, it entered the northern lock with the morning flood at around 9:00 a.m. There, expedition leader Markus Rex, captain Thomas Wunderlich and the team of the final section of the expedition were received by the Federal Minister of Research Anja Karliczek and the director of the Alfred Wegener Institute, Antje Boetius. This is the end of a superlative expedition: never before has an icebreaker been in the vicinity of the North Pole in winter, international researchers have been able to collect urgently needed climate data in the region most severely affected by climate change. Frozen on an ice floe, they braved extreme cold, arctic storms, a constantly changing sea ice environment – and the challenges of the corona pandemic.

The POLARSTERN will return on the morning of October 12, 2020 – after 389 days in the Arctic ice. © BMBF / Hans-Joachim Rickel On September 20, 2019, the Polarstern left the Norwegian port of Tromsø for the central Arctic, right in the middle of the epicenter of climate change. There she let herself freeze in the ice and a year-long drift began with the ice over the polar cap, completely exposed to the forces of nature – her route and speed determined the drift of the ice alone, driven by wind and current. A total of 442 scientific trip participants, Polarstern crew members, young researchers, teachers and media representatives were present during the five expedition sections. Seven ships, several aircraft and more than 80 institutions from 20 countries take part. The scientific participants in the expedition had 37 different nationalities. Their common goal: to research the complex interactions in the climate system between the atmosphere, ice, ocean and life and to better represent them in climate models. Now they come back full of impressions from the changing Arctic, with a unique treasure trove of data, the evaluation and analysis of which will occupy a whole generation of climate researchers. Even when practically all expeditions worldwide were canceled in the wake of the corona pandemic, MOSAiC was able to use the broad support of the international scientific community and through great efforts of the MOSAiC team. In early summer, the Polarstern had to leave the MOSAiC floe and some autonomous stations for a short time to swap teams. A new team resumed work on the ice floe after only four weeks and continued the investigation until its last day, when the floe reached the ice edge east of Greenland as predicted, broke under the influence of swell and waves, making it its typical Lifecycle ended. In order to capture the last missing piece of the puzzle in the full season of the sea ice – the freezing of the ice at the end of summer – the expedition then pushed far north, crossed the North Pole and moored on a second ice floe in the area – despite all the challenges The MOSAiC expedition thus successfully achieved its goal: to research the epicenter of climate change over the course of the year more precisely than it was ever possible before – and thus to take the knowledge of the earth’s climate system and its changes a decisive step further. The expedition cost a total of around 150 million euros, of which Germany has taken on around two thirds. Anja Karliczek, Federal Minister of Research “Climate change is the greatest challenge facing humanity. A challenge that we can only meet together – across the boundaries of disciplines and nations. The international MOSAiC mission, in which 20 nations are involved, shows that despite all the setbacks at the international level, there is the will to accept this challenge. MOSAiC, the largest Arctic expedition of all time, is a historic milestone for climate research. During their long time in the Arctic ice, the researchers unearthed a unique treasure trove of data that will benefit generations after us. Because the data obtained there in the epicenter of climate change will help to close crucial knowledge gaps in this region. This enables us to refine and reevaluate climate models. Only if we know how the climate is developing in the Arctic will we be able to take precautions against climate change in Germany and to counteract it effectively. Germany has taken a leading role here by assuming well over half the costs of the expedition. MOSAiC is one of the many years of German funding for research into the Arctic and climate change. We want to preserve the world as we know it today for future generations. That is why we act – nationally and internationally. This is also what the MOSAiC mission stands for. ”Prof. Dr. Antje Boetius, Director of the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research “With the MOSAiC expedition, we set out on the trail of the Norwegian polar researcher Fridtjof Nansens, who made the first ice drift through the Arctic Ocean a good 125 years ago dared. Could he have imagined how different the Arctic is today? And even with the possibilities of modern polar research, it remained an exciting expedition that took us far beyond our limits of knowledge, but also demanded a lot from the participants, especially because of the pandemic. Today the expedition comes to a successful end, and we have a much clearer picture of the interplay of ice, ocean and atmosphere in the Arctic than ever before. The unprecedented commitment of so many supporters from around the world made this scientific breakthrough in Arctic research possible. She brought home countless samples and data from the year-long drift. This unique data set is a gift to all of humanity. Now it is important that we use the new knowledge to make the right decisions – for the future of the Arctic and thus also for the future of our planet. ”Prof. Dr. Markus Rex, expedition leader and leader of the MOSAiC project, Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research “I am very happy about the successful outcome of the MOSAiC expedition. With it we provide the urgently needed climate data and observations that humanity needs for pressing, far-reaching political decisions on climate protection. ”“ We have seen the ice in the Arctic die. In the summer it was completely melted and eroded by the heat itself right at the North Pole. If we do not fight global warming immediately and massively, the Arctic ice will soon have disappeared in summer, with unforeseeable consequences for the weather and climate here too. In winter, the central Arctic is still a fascinating, deeply frozen landscape, but the ice is only half as thick as it was 40 years ago and our temperatures in winter were almost continuously ten degrees higher than they were for Fridtjof Nansen in his pioneering Arctic expedition 125 years ago. ”“ The Arctic sea ice not only plays an important role in the global climate system, it is also a unique ecosystem and the basis for the life of many indigenous societies. And it is a place of fascinating and unique beauty. We should do everything we can to preserve it for future generations. ”Thomas Wunderlich, Polarstern captain“ On the way north, I was particularly impressed by how many open bodies of water and thus easy-to-drive ice we encountered around the North Pole. Not once did we get stuck and were able to use a route north of Greenland that has always been better avoided, as this area is known for its massive, difficult-to-drive sea ice. Despite the great challenges of the supplies at sea instead of in ports, all exchanges went remarkably well. I have great respect for the nautical performance of the captains, who mastered this in winter during the polar night at temperatures below minus 30 degrees, when even the cranes on the Russian supply icebreaker only functioned to a limited extent. The special commitment of the crew and science under these conditions deserves a successful expedition and I am glad that we have all returned safely to our home port. ”Background information on MOSAiC During the MOSAiC expedition, scientists from 20 nations explored the Arctic in the course of the year. From autumn 2019 to autumn 2020, the German icebreaker Polarstern drifted through the Arctic Ocean, frozen in the ice. MOSAiC was realized under the direction of the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research (AWI). More than 80 institutes worked together in a research consortium so that this unique project could succeed and the most valuable data possible could be obtained. The budget of the expedition was over 140 million euros.


EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and / or sentence structure not be perfect.

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