“Mosaic”-expedition: research ship “polar star” returns from the arctic

If on Monday the German research ship "Polar star" After a year in the Arctic in his home port Bremerhaven back, expedition manager Markus Rex will be on board. The atmosphere physicist has three of five stages of the "Mosaic"-Expedition accompanied and was thus the longest on board.

Behind Rex and his team is one of the most adventurous trips in the history of Arctic research, which on the 20th. September 2019 in Norway began – and the due to the Corona pandemic temporarily stood on the cant.

Docked to an ice floe

For ten months drifted the "Polar star" Docked to a huge ice floe by the Arctic. To observe the entire ice cycle from freezing to melt, measure and document – that could the scientists for the first time. They promise important insights from the data obtained by the North Public Sea and the Climate Change. Hardly any region on the earth gets him so clearly to traces like the Arctic.

After breaking the shooll in the end of July in the summer Arctic, the last stage led the "Polar star" under engine again direction North Pole. What Rex has seen him, horrified him: "The ice at the North Pole was completely melted until just before the pole there were areas open water." Where normally dense, multiannious ice was, the polar stars were carried out in record time. "We looked at the ice while dying", say Rex.

Breakfast, frostbite, icebreaker

It is one of the experiences that will remember him and his team from a ride of superlative. With 140 million euros budget, it was the most expensive and logistically expensive expedition in central Arctic. Almost 500 people from all corners of the world were step by boarding. Rex, who works for the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI), fell for the well-being of all responsible. He is glad that the journey without greater blank ends. The worst had been a leg break of a colleague right at the beginning on board. In addition, smaller frostblies came on the face with some participants – with up to minus 42 degrees Nothing unusual. "The healed but easily", say Rex.

The research ship Polaresters of the Alfred Wegener Institute

There had been a lot to happen. Encounters with icebar gave on the plaice. Rex remembers a particularly BRENZLIGE: "The bar was only 40 meters away from the ice breeze." The wake has made it just with a shot just above the icebard head, to chase away the animal. So that the scientists could pursue in peace of their work, warders secured the plaice permanently. Mostly distribution already larm the four-legged guests.

Cable-eating fox

On the evening of the 10. October 2019 was AWI photographer Esther Horvath in such a visit on board. From the bug of the polar star, she photographed an ice box and her young, who explored the research camp. "I already had the feeling that it will be an important photo", she tells. In fact, the picture won the prestigious "World Press Photo Award" in the category "environment".

Other animals came to visit. Christian Haas, head of the second stage, recalls: "A small, cute polar fox had brought almost the whole project to failure because he has tuned with preference electric and data cables on the ice and did not want to spin."

Deep black, no night

Even stronger than the animals impressed photographer Horvath the Polar Night. "This deep black fascinated me every day, that was magical", she says. From mid-October last year it was throughout dark. "On the Scholle was worked in the light of ‘Polarstern’ and the headlights. I felt sterly as in a cinema scene."

When the sun slowly reduced in Marz, Horvath was no longer on board. But the Geophysiker Haas has experienced. For him the insertion of the "nautical dimming" impressive: "Because this flag turns light in the near the North Pole within a day around the full horizon around us, you can guess that the earth is a ball."

Arctic expedition "Mosaic"

22. Marz 2020: Snowdowns in the Arctic.

Christian Mushz, atmosphere physicist at the Leibniz Institute for Troposphere Research in Leipzig, has experienced the opposite of the night: the polar day. He was on board for two months in the summer and had good working conditions for zero degrees because of the through brightness and temperatures. "In our red safety adds, it was almost too warm." Mushroom and his colleagues love a vessel balloon from the size of a line bus in up to 1000 meters high up to measure atmospheric parameters such as turbulence, radiation and fine dust concentration.

Coronavirus obstacles

Actually, Milz had been early on board two months. But with the beginning of the Corona Pandemic, it was first unclear whether the "Mosaic"-Expedition can be continued. Due to the travel coatings, the intended exchange of the team on board by plane was not possible. Instead, two research ships with scientists from Bremerhaven drove out instead. The polar stars interrupted their drift, the teams could be exchanged in Spitzbergen. The polar stars returned to their plaice and continued the drift.

Head of Markus Rex is more than satisfied with the course of the expedition. "Not even Corona has thrown us out of the train", he emphasizes. "During the absence of the ‘Polarstern’, important measuring instruments have continued to work autonomously on the Scholle." In the whole year, non-mute samples and data from ice, snow, water and air were collected. "These are still artistic generations of scientists."


In addition to the many work there was also time for game evenings, sports and festivals. Not only Christmas was celebrated on board, but also birthdays, just like that of Markus Rex in November. On the Scholle an ice bar was built up, with minus 30 degrees there was gluing wine. Rex: "The first sip is still warm, the second cold and the third is ice cream."

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