On Thursday, 3 August 2023, the analysis vessel Polarstern is scheduled to set off from Tromsø, Norway, in the direction of the North Pole. For 2 months, a very good fifty scientific expedition individuals will discover the Arctic in transition as sea ice extent reaches its annual minimal in September. They’ll discover the biology, chemistry and physics of sea ice in addition to the results of sea ice retreat on your entire ocean system from the floor to the deep sea.
Eleven years in the past, Antje Boetius was a part of the biggest ever sea ice minumum within the Arctic and its penalties for all times within the deep sea. Now she is returning together with her group to match the state of the Arctic right now – additionally with the info from the MOSAiC expedition 2019/20.
“I’m very excited to see how sea ice and ocean life have modified over the past decade,” says Antje Boetius. “In 2012, we have been on website throughout the lowest documented summer season sea ice extent up to now and have been capable of see important impacts on your entire ecosystem of the central Arctic Ocean, all the way down to over 4 kilometres of water depth,” explains the Director of the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Analysis (AWI). “In the intervening time, I’m monitoring the ocean ice scenario at www.meereisportal.de significantly intensively. We don’t but know whether or not a brand new minimal shall be reached, given the globally scorching 12 months 2023 and the truth that the ocean ice in Antarctica is at a report low.”
The pinnacle of the ocean ice physics group and MOSAiC skilled Dr Marcel Nicolaus studies: “The ice at present covers an space of just below 7.5 million sq. kilometres, much like that of the previous two years. Because of this there’s nonetheless about a million sq. kilometres extra ice than in 2012. Nonetheless, the summer season soften is in full swing, and the wind particularly will decide how the porous, brittle ice continues to be distributed within the coming weeks.”
The expedition group is investigating intimately how the composition of the ocean ice is altering on website: Helicopter-towed sensors are used to measure sea ice thickness, ice cores enable the ocean ice composition to be analysed and algae dwelling within the ice to be studied. An underwater robotic measures how a lot gentle passes by means of the ice into the ocean when its floor continues to be coated by snow or already by soften water ponds. The sunshine is offered to micro algae (phytoplankton) as a supply of vitality for photosynthesis, which reside within the higher water layers. What occurs to the carbon they bind is being researched (micro-)biologically, chemically and bodily from the water floor to the deep-sea flooring. The planktologists on board need to observe the trail of life instantly beneath the ice into the deep sea, for which they create out numerous digital camera techniques in addition to autonomous samplers.
A number of so-called ice stations are deliberate for the work: “The ship docks at a floe, then the ice researchers go onto the floe, we deploy numerous robots and free-fall gadgets and, in parallel, we take a look at the creatures on the backside with the zoologists, greater than 4000 metres under. On this manner, we recognise connections in all ranges of the ocean from the ocean ice to the seabed,” explains Antje Boetius. In doing so, the group is returning to the identical working areas as in 2012 for comparative research: to the significantly productive marginal ice zone and areas with maybe nonetheless perennial ice cowl within the central Arctic. A variety of confirmed but in addition new applied sciences shall be used for the work, for instance lander techniques, deep-sea crawlers and the Ocean Ground Statement and Bathymetry System (OFOBS) developed on the AWI. The return takes place after the summer season ice soften, when the autumn sea ice formation begins.
Among the many individuals is a digital camera group from UFA Documentary GmbH, which is filming the expedition. The tv documentary, which is being produced in cooperation with NDR, is scheduled to be broadcast on ARD on the flip of the 12 months. Already throughout the expedition, events can acquire impressions from on board within the radio program of Radio Bremen and naturally additionally observe the expedition within the Polarstern app (https://follow-polarstern.awi.de/?lang=en) and on the social media channels of the Alfred Wegener Institute. Polarstern is scheduled to return to its house port of Bremerhaven on 1 October.