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In 1893, Arctic explorer Fridtjof Nansen of Norway deliberately froze his wooden ship, the Fram, into the drifting sea ice north of Siberia. His rationale: Rather than fighting the ice, which had thwarted previous efforts to reach the North Pole, he’d allow the ice itself to carry him close to his goal. His polar bid failed, but 3 years later the wandering pack had carried the Fram some 2000 kilometers across the Arctic to the open North Atlantic Ocean, making Nansen an international hero. His mission revealed fundamental facts about the mysterious Arctic Ocean, including its depth, the enormity of its pack ice, and the currents that move heat, water, and ice across the top of the world.
Next month, an international expedition led by the German icebreaker Polarstern will pay homage to Nansen’s strategy in the biggest Arctic science expedition to date. The ship will depart Tromsø, Norway, in late September, then let itself become trapped in the ice. Researchers plan to spend the next 13 months drifting past the North Pole before returning to Germany in the fall of 2020.
Voyage - Scientists - Countries - Studies - Part
During the voyage, some 600 scientists from 17 countries will conduct studies as part of the Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC), which will also involve a host of aircraft and other icebreakers. Eight years in the making, the $134 million MOSAiC will monitor the rapidly changing Arctic’s physical, geochemical, and biological systems, from the start of sea-ice growth in the fall through its breakup the following summer. “For an Arctic marine biologist this expedition is a dream come true,” says Rolf Gradinger, of the Arctic University of Norway in Tromsø.
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Were Nansen alive today he wouldn’t recognize the Arctic. MOSAiC’s focus will...
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