On August 19, 2020, the world’s biggest and longest polar research study exploration – referred to as MOSAiC – reached the North Pole after making an unintended detour owing to lighter-than-usual sea ice conditions. The exploration is now entering its last, throughout which scientists will study the last piece of the Arctic puzzle: the development of brand-new sea ice marking completion of the summertime season.
In September 2019, the German research study icebreaker Polarstern set sail from Tromsø, Norway, to invest a year wandering through the Arctic Ocean – caught in ice. After leaving the ice floe it had actually been being in for the previous 10 months, the icebreaker took a trip through the Fram Strait and along the northeast coast of Greenland – an area that is generally house to thick, multi-year ice.
Using radar satellite images and sea-ice information, scientists onboard the vessel figured out that the ice conditions this year were ‘lighter than usual’ and had the ability to finish their journey to the North Pole in simply 6 days.
Onboard, throughout the year-long experiment, around 600 scientists from 20 nations have actually been performing different experiments on the sea ice surrounding the ship in order to acquire basic insights that are essential to much better comprehend international environment modification.
Tânia Casal, Scientific Campaign Coordinator for the Multidisciplinary wandering Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC), describes, “The vital importance of these measurements is related to the fact that they are made continuously and simultaneously throughout the full year. The data acquired will give the scientific community an exceptional dataset that will be studied for years to come.”
One of ESA’s experiments consists of making use of a brand-new ground-based double frequency radar which has actually been utilized to determine sea-ice of a various age and density and is likewise able to compare the snow and ice amongst the very first outcomes.
Tânia remarks, “Even though the conditions on the ice have been quite challenging due to the unusual weather conditions faced this year, first results have already revealed that warming events and associated changes of the snow surface can lead to an underestimation of the ice concentration – a major variable when studying the Arctic conditions.”
Understanding snow and determining snow depth is extremely appropriate likewise for ESA’s CryoSat and SMOS objectives, along with getting ready for the next 3 Copernicus high concern prospect objectives: CIMR, CRISTAL and ROSE-L.
Now that the Polarstern has actually reached the North Pole, scientists have actually chosen a brand-new ice floe to connect to in order to observe and study the re-freezing of melt ponds and the start of fall freezing of sea ice.
Normally, the North Pole is not generally covered by satellite information, and for that reason leaves what is called a ‘pole hole’ noticeable in many Arctic maps. Ordinarily, vessels do not journey near the North Pole, so ice assistance services are not called for or required.
This positioned a difficulty throughout the MOSAiC exploration when the Polarstern ship wandered north of the Copernicus Sentinel-1 regular protection to continually study the advancement of the sea ice. In order to navigate this, the WMO Polar Space Task Group (PSTG), which makes up 13 Space Agencies, has actually carried out an unique tasking of satellites to acquire information of the rarely imaged North Pole area.
This included getting observations from CSA RADARSAT-2 and RADARSAT Constellation Missions, DLR’s TerraSAR-X and ASI’s COSMO-SkyMed objective. ESA’s Mark Drinkwater states, “The Polar Space Task Group has made a very special effort in the name of MOSAiC and the Year of Polar Prediction science to collect data in a location where normally there is none.”
Depending on ice and weather, the Polarstern will follow the Transpolar Drift southwards, from its existing position at 88° North. The Polarstern is anticipated to finish the last of the experiment and go back to Bremerhaven, Germany, by mid-October.