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MOSAiC - Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate

It was the largest-scale Arctic research expedition of all time: in September 2019 the German research icebreaker Polarstern departed from Tromsø, Norway and, once it has reached its destination, spent the next year drifting through the Arctic Ocean, trapped in the ice. A total of 600 people from 19 countries, who were supplied by other icebreakers and aircraft, will participated in the expedition – and several times that number of researchers will subsequently use the data gathered to take climate and ecosystem research to the next level. The mission will be spearheaded by the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI). More information about the expedition here.

With we accompanied the MOSAiC expedition with sea-ice-related information and detailed ice maps, and reported on the initial findings. In the course of ten DriftStories, once a month we showcased experts from the expedition’s ICE Team and explored the backgrounds of their research areas. You can continue to find all DriftStories, which offer a closer look at the sea-ice-related work done on site and the relevance of their research for the MOSAIC expedition as a whole, here. has provided regular coverage of the MOSAiC expedition in the form of the Sea Ice Ticker. Though the main focus of the Ticker texts was on fieldwork conducted on all aspects of sea ice, we also explored other topics, especially with regard to new developments, milestones and findings in the context of the MOSAiC drift experiment. The Sea Ice Ticker texts were released once a week and can still be read here.

Sea-ice Minimum: Prolonged Low Atmospheric Pressure Slows Ice Retreat in the Arctic

16 September 2021
In September, the summer sea-ice melting ends in the Arctic. In other words, on a certain day of the month, the sea-ice cover reaches its lowest extent for the year and then begins growing again, because the surface water begins freezing again. Polar and climate researchers around the globe watch with great interest to see how much sea ice survives the summer. This year, the summer heat had a more moderate effect on the Arctic than in the past five years. Up to the end of the current melting season on 12 September 2021, the Arctic sea-ice cover shrank to a total area of 4.81 million square kilometres; 1.54 Million square kilometres more than in the record low year 2012. Back then, the satellites recorded a residual area of 3.27 million square kilometres. As such, the 2021 Arctic sea-ice minimum comes in at 12th place on the negative list for absolute values. Read more here...


IceBird Summer 2021 – First Results of Sea-ice Thickness Measurements Taken off Northeast Greenland

15 September 2021After a two-year break, this year experts from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) were able to return to Station Nord in northeast Greenland, to resume their annual sea-ice measurements north of Greenland and over Fram Strait. The measuring campaign MELTEX/IceBird 2021 with the aeroplane Polar 6 consisted of two parts, each with its own research focus: the goal of MELTEX (27 July – 10 August 2021) was to determine the spatial extent of meltwater ponds on the ice, and to observe the size distribution and depth of the ponds in relation to the floes’ topography. In turn, the focus of the IceBird summer campaign (14 August – 1 September 2021) was on continuing the long-term ice thickness time series at the southern end of the Transpolar Drift. Read more here…


DriftStories from the MOSAiC expedition through the Central Arctic

You can read the online version of the introduction here.
In addition, you can download the complete booklet as a PDF here or request a printed copy free of charge by mailing us at

Real time course plot R.V. Polarstern
Where is Polarstern?

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