It’s studying the interactions between the Arctic and the global climate.
The RV Polarstern will soon set sail and deliberately trap itself in Arctic sea ice. Hundreds of scientists from 17 countries will study the ice, oceans, and atmosphere during the expedition across the Arctic Ocean.
(Image credit: Stefan Hendricks/Alfred Wegener Institute)
The German icebreaker RV Polarstern will spend about a year adrift in the Arctic Ocean, surrounded by thick floating sea ice.
The Polarstern is the most advanced research icebreaker in the world, and the expedition leaders calculate it will be unharmed by being stuck in the Arctic sea ice.
(Image credit: Mario Hoppmann/Alfred Wegener Institute)
One of the world’s most indestructible ships will depart Norway in a few weeks, bound for the Arctic Ocean, where it will spend the winter deliberately trapped in sea ice, drifting wherever the winds take it.
The powerful icebreaker, called the RV Polarstern, has an ambitious goal: to determine how climate change is reshaping the Arctic. The 13-month-long, $130 million expedition, called Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAIC), has been planned for years and will require more than 600 scientists and technical staff.
The ship sets sail Sept. 20 from Tromsø, in northern Norway, and it will head eastward along the coast of Russia. Expedition leader Markus Rex, of the Alfred-Wegener Institute (which operates the Polarstern), said the ship will likely enter floating sea ice in mid-October, and then will drift across the Arctic, surrounded by ice, until next summer, before returning to its home port in Bremerhaven, Germany, in the fall.
Getting stuck in floating sea ice would spell the end for most ships, but Rex said the Polarstern is tough enough to handle it.
“Our ship is one of the most powerful and most capable research icebreakers that exist,” Rex told Live Science.”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.”