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In what is being billed as the largest scientific study of the Arctic ever, will begin next week with one of the most indestructible ships the world has seen eventually locking itself between sea ice for more than a year.
The project, which will require about 600 scientists and technical staff, is designed to study how climate change is impacting the Arctic over a period of a year.
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Researchers from 19 countries will take part in the study
The research project, which is called the Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAIC ) has been in the works for years. In order to make it happen, the scientists are relying on the RV Polarstern, a powerful ship that can break through the ice.
The ship will set sail from Norway on 20 September and according to one report is expected to enter the floating sea by the middle of October. Researchers from 19 countries will take part in the exhibition.
"Our ship is one of the most powerful and most capable research icebreakers that exist," Markus Rex, the expedition leader from the Alfred-Wegner Institute, which operates the ship said in a report. "There could be huge pressure from the ice … but we know the strength of our vessel. We are not in danger of losing our ship." The ship will be supported by four icebreaker ships.
The ship will drift in ice for months
By drifting along the ice for an entire year the scientists will be able to study the Arctic during its cycle of freezing and thawing which happens annually. In places where the ice is thick enough, the scientists will set up camps and instruments.
The scientists are channeling Fridtjof Nansen, the Norwegian explorer from the 19th century who used the ocean current to drift to the middle of the Arctic. “It doesn’t make sense to fight the ice, rather we are going to work with it,” Rex said in a separate report.
The research is important because there is little scientific data other than satellite imagery and temperature records to gauge the impact of climate change on the Arctic during the winter. The summer months in the Arctic have long been studied. With the observations, the scientists will be able to build more accurate models about climate change. With the Arctic forecast to warn to by of 5°C to 15°C by 2100, narrowing down that range is necessary.