UK scientists join iceberg research ship

UK scientists join iceberg research ship

UK scientists will join what could be the largest-scale Arctic research expedition ever planned when the German research ship, RV Polarstern, is deliberately lodged into sea ice to drift past the North Pole.

Six berths on the 120m-long ice-breaker have been confirmed for UK researchers, who will work alongside up to 600 international scientists and crew from 17 countries as part of this major international effort to better understand the fastest changing environment on the planet.

This year-long study will see the RV Polarstern move with the current in the ice across the central Arctic Ocean from September 2019 to September 2020.

Spearheaded by Germany’s Alfred Wegener Institute, the €120 million (£108m) MOSAiC (Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate) mission aims to answer some of the biggest scientific questions about the Arctic, including investigating why the region is warming twice as fast as the global average. 

This is among the first missions of its kind since the 1890s, when Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen attempted to reach the North Pole by drifting in a ship locked in ice. Nansen had to abandon his ship when he realised he had gone off track, but the ship itself made it across the ice cap intact and the expedition resulted in breakthrough scientific discoveries about the Arctic and weather patterns.

More than a hundred years later, the MOSAiC research aims to deliver a step change in our understanding of the Arctic climate system and how it affects global climate models. UK Research and Innovation’s Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) has partnered with the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), who have provided funding for ship berth fees on the MOSAiC expedition.

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Further information

Read more on the NERC website