The researchers were unable to determine the floe’s makeup using satellite imagery alone; it took several days and nights of intensive work on the floe itself to gather the requisite data for making a sound choice. In this context, they used an electromagnetic sensor, which they hauled over the ice on foot or with a Skidoo, to map the ice thickness. Ice core samples also yielded data to help assess the ice’s structure. Working in the dark, and in unfamiliar territory, posed a serious challenge. These efforts were coordinated and monitored with infrared cameras from Polarstern’s bridge. Further, members of the expedition’s polar bear patrol accompanied the researchers on the ice to ensure their safety.
In a final step, a helicopter-mounted laser scanner was used to create a three-dimensional model of the floe’s surface. This map, created during the scouting phase, will help the experts plan the next step: setting up the ice camp. Time won’t be on their side: starting today, the sun will no longer rise over the horizon, and there will only be a few more days with partial light at noon.
The MOSAiC expedition, spearheaded by the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), entails a number of unprecedented challenges. The project has an overall budget of ca. 140 million euros. In the course of the one-year-long drift, ca. 300 experts hailing from 17 countries will be on board. Their common goal: to investigate for the first time the entire climate system in the Central Arctic. To do so, they will gather data on five major aspects – Atmosphere, Sea Ice, Ocean, Ecosystem and Biogeochemistry – in an effort to better understand the interactions that shape the Arctic climate and life in the Arctic Ocean.
You can find the latest news directly from the Arctic on the MOSAiC channels on Twitter (@MOSAiCArctic) and Instagram (@mosaic_expedition) under the hashtags #MOSAiCexpedition, #Arctic and #icedrift. For further information on the expedition, please visit: www.mosaic-expedition.org. Or you can use the MOSAiC web app to follow Polarstern’s drift route live: follow.mosaic-expedition.org. The images shown there are also available in our MOSAiC media library.