While the ship has a fully equipped medical station, the aim is to avoid any calamity on board, said Verena Mohaupt, a logistics expert who has spent months preparing safety measures for the mission.
This includes creating a perimeter fence on the ice that will sound a loud alarm if a polar bear approaches. “We’re going to have to experiment and hope it works,” said Mohaupt.
The MOSAiC mission, which stands for Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate, comes about 125 years after Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen first managed to seal his wooden expedition ship, Fram, into the ice during a three-year expedition to the North Pole.
Since then, scientific understanding of the role the Arctic plays in the world’s climate has grown, though so has concern about the changes being observed, such as increasingly early sea ice melts.
Scientists now believe the cold cap that forms each year is key to regulating weather patterns and temperatures across the Northern Hemisphere. Anything that disrupts the Arctic will be felt further south, they say.
Rex cited the polar vortices that blasted cold air as far as Florida last winter and the early summer heat wave in Europe as prime examples of the impact that a change in the Arctic weather system might entail.
“The dramatic warming of the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic,” he said, adding that understanding the processes at play in the far north is crucial if world leaders are to make the right decisions to curb climate change. “We as scientists, I think, have the obligation to produce the robust scientific basis for political decisions,” Rex said. (VOA)