Area of investment and support

Area of investment and support: Multidisciplinary drifting observatory for the study of Arctic climate (MOSAiC)

The aim of this programme is to enhance understanding of the coupled central Arctic climate system at a process level. This will enable improved sea ice forecasting, extended-range weather forecasting, climate projections and climate change assessment.

£1.8 million
2017 to 2022
Partners involved:
Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)

The scope and what we're doing

One of the most pressing problems in understanding and predicting global climate change is the inability of modern climate models to reproduce Arctic climate change. The Multidisciplinary Drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC) has been designed in response to this research need by providing an observational study from the RV Polarstern throughout the year.

The opportunity has arisen to take part in this €60 million initiative by partnering with BEIS which has provided funding for ship berth fees on the MOSAiC expedition. To maximise the UK involvement in this expedition, NERC is investing £1.8 million to fund participants to undertake research that is compatible with the MOSAiC science plan and will use these ship berths.

The Arctic is the fastest changing environment on the planet (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2014), with warming rates exceeding twice the global average. The dramatic changes in the Arctic climate system and the fast retreat of Arctic sea ice strongly affect global climate. However, the observed rate of climate change in the Arctic is not well reproduced in climate models, with many processes being poorly represented because they are not well understood. This understanding is limited by a lack of observations in the central Arctic throughout the year.

MOSAiC has been designed in response to these research needs and will provide a step change in understanding the coupled Arctic climate system and its representation in global climate models. It will do this by conducting a study throughout the year from the RV Polarstern as it drifts in the ice across the central Arctic Ocean from October 2019 to October 2020.

The MOSAiC project has been designed under the umbrella of the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC), led by the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI), Russian Arctic & Antarctic Research Institute (AARI) and the University of Colorado (CIRES). The total budget exceeds €60 million.

The main objective of the MOSAiC initiative is to enhance process-level understanding of the coupled central Arctic climate system that will improve numerical models for sea ice forecasting, extended-range weather forecasting, climate projections, and climate change assessment.

The MOSAiC science and implementation plans outline the motivations for the initiative and the specific science questions around its organisation.

The aim of this programme, in partnership with BEIS, is to provide the opportunity for the UK scientific community to engage with the MOSAiC expedition by funding six research proposals that will each utilise a berth for two months on the RV Polarstern.

This programme will address the ‘managing environmental change’ challenge in the NERC strategy.

Opportunities, support and resources available

Past projects, outcomes and impact

Who to contact

Jessica Surma


Telephone: 01793 411600

Last updated: 17 October 2022

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