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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.

The Arctic Spring Has Begun

14 April 2021
The seasonal maximum sea-ice extent in the Arctic has come and gone, the sun now rises above the horizon again at the North Pole, and the long Polar Night has come to an end. The mean sea-ice extent for March 2021 in the Arctic was 14.72 million square kilometres. In March, the air temperatures at 925 hPa were up to 5 degrees Celsius below average in northern Eurasia, and ranged over Alaska to the east. In contrast, in the Atlantic sector of the Arctic the temperatures were 1 to 3 degrees Celsius above average. After experiencing a prolonged negative phase for the majority of the winter, the Arctic Oscillation was predominantly positive in March, though there were also significant fluctuations. This is indicative of more westerly winds, which bring warmer Atlantic air to Northern Europe. Read more here…

Sea-ice Buoy Retrieved After a Long Trek Across the Arctic

31 March 2021
The thermistor buoy (2018T52) was installed in the Arctic on 14.09.2018, where it continued to transmit data until 04.07.2020. After an impressive journey through the Central Arctic, its return to Bremerhaven makes for an equally exciting story! Thermistor buoys do not float and normally sink into the sea as soon as the ice is no longer able to support their weight. As a result, most of them can’t be recovered and are lost. However, on 04.07.2020, buoy 2018T52 reached Jan Mayen, a small volcanic island roughly 550 km north of Iceland in the Greenland Sea. There it was discovered on a beach by Pål Lunde and Jared Elgvin, head technicians at the weather station in Olonkinbyen, the island’s only settlement. They contacted Jakob Belter from the Alfred Wegener Institute, and sent the case and measuring unit back to Bremerhaven.
Read more here ...


Summer Sea-ice Minimum Reached in the Antarctic

19 March 2021
This year, the sea-ice extent in the Antarctic reached its minimum on 17 February 2021: 2.79 million km². At the same time, there are three regions in which the sea-ice extent is significantly below the long-term average. One is in the northwest Weddell Sea, where the ice edge has retreated far to the south of 65° S. That hasn’t been the case there since 2009.  A second ice-free region in the Weddell Sea is growing to the southeast, in the northern Filchner Trough, where a large polynya has formed, so that there is open water up to the Filchner Ice Shelf. The research icebreaker Polarstern is currently in the region, during Cruise PS124, and is capitalising on the favourable conditions to pursue a comprehensive oceanographic, biological and biogeochemical research programme in the southeast Weddell Sea. 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
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