The World’s Largest Ever Climate Science Expedition Is About To Launch

A boat in the arctic
Sean Gallup / Getty Images

Researchers from almost 20 countries will soon launch a 12-month long expedition to the notoriously inhospitable Arctic regions of the North Pole with the primary objective of formulating more accurate models of how we understand climate change, The Guardian reported today.

The MOSAiC expedition — an acronym for the Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate — is said to be the most complex and ambitious expedition of its kind, costing some €140 million (a little over $154 million) with 600 scientists rotating on two-month shifts conducting research on the ice and snow.

The MOSAiC website describes its mission statement.

“Embark on the largest polar expedition in history: in September 2019, the German research icebreaker Polarstern will set sail from Tromsø, Norway, to spend a year drifting through the Arctic Ocean – trapped in ice. The goal of the MOSAiC expedition is to take the closest look ever at the Arctic as the epicenter of global warming and to gain fundamental insights that are key to better understand global climate change.”

Stefanie Arndt, a physicist specializing in sea ice, stated that a unique aspect of this particular expedition is that it allows researchers to observe the ice over the cycling seasons. Arndt noted that the transition from winter to spring is “particularly interesting.” She told the press that, by studying the type, size, and density of the snow, scientists can better understand the forces at play in the Arctic — the area that’s understood the least by climate scientists.

“For example, how much light the snow reflects back into the atmosphere, how much it absorbs and how much light reaches the upper ocean. This has big implications for the ecosystem.”

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The expedition is expected to help scientists build better computer models that will allow them to more accurately predict weather and climate shifts. Given the increasing inaccuracy of weather reports, this is no doubt a good thing. The MOSAiC website states that the data they gather will allow scientists to take these models to a “completely new level.”

Countries taking part in the expedition include the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany, China, and Russia. The expedition will be headed up by Markus Rex from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Germany. The expedition head described the Arctic as “the epicenter of global climate change” and commended the scientists from various parts of the world for standing shoulder to shoulder on the global issue.

The expedition will launch before the U.N. climate summit taking place in New York next week. This expedition comes at a time when public concern about global climate change is increasing. According to a recent The Inquisitr article, the public is starting to see climate change as the most important global issue facing the world today.