largest polar expedition in history started in September 2019 and will last for
a whole year, after more than a decade of planning. The research ship
Polarstern, following the footsteps of Fritjof Nansen´s Fram Expedition 1893-96,
will spend the year drifting, trapped in the Arctic ice close to the North
Pole. The goal is to better understand the Arctic climate system and global
climate change. Linde delivers several gases for advanced measurements.
harshest and darkest time of year on the North Pole starts during Autumn. The
sun dips down beyond the horizon and doesn´t return till Spring. Temperatures
become inhumanely low and the ice so thick that no icebreaker can penetrate it.
Research vessels flee south to avoid being caught, while the icebreaker
Polarstern does quite the opposite. The Arctic Winter is exactly what these
researchers are seeking.
September 2019 they left the Norwegian northern town of Tromsø, to East
Siberia, towards the North Pole. The captain steers the ship into massive ice, kills
the engines and lets Polarstern freeze in place for a whole year. In biting
cold up to minus 45° C.
expedition is named MOSAiC (Multidisciplinary Drifting Observatory for the
Study of Arctic Climate), and is managed by Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz
Centre for Polar and Marine research (AWI) in Germany. They will collect data
from sea ice and ecosystems contributing to new knowledge about climate change
in the Arctic.
advanced measurements the researchers hope to uncover important aspects of the
Arctic systems: The drifting ice, the turbulent ocean, atmosphere, ecosystems and
biogeochemical cycling. They among others search for answers to whether the
Arctic Ocean captures more greenhouse gasses than it releases due to phytoplankton,
absorbing carbon dioxide through photosynthesis. All in order to better
understand Arctic weather and climate and the impact on global weather
Gases used in measurements
research camp on the ice is established, where they have a range of advanced
sensors, weather balloons and research drones to measure the atmosphere and
remote sensing instruments to measure ice and snow properties.
instruments need gases in advanced chemical measuring processes. Linde was
contacted by the University of Colorado, through their partner the University
of Tromsø, and has guaranteed regular deliveries of gasses to the supply ships
leaving Tromsø harbour to Polarstern.
Linde delivers helium and oxygen for measuring
a range of volatile organic and halogenated compounds to better understand
chemical reactions that may be important precursors to aerosol and cloud
formation. Clouds are thought to be one of the most important, but poorly
understood influences on radiation and energy budget in the Arctic.
Argon is used as a carrier gas for
gaseous elemental mercury measurements. Mercury is ubiquitous throughout the
environment, and the atmosphere is able to transport mercury in gaseous form
for hundreds of kilometres. In other words, from source areas as coal power
plants or volcanoes at lower latitudes, all the way to the Arctic. The
chemistry of the Arctic atmosphere
– particularly in the springtime – is such that the Arctic surface can act as a
strong sink for atmospheric mercury, acting as the final link in a chain of
transport of this dangerous pollutant from source regions to the Arctic food
used as standards for instruments that measure the well-known greenhouse gases,
to research the balance of production and destruction of these gases taking
place in the Arctic, to better understand the global balance of sources and
Nitrogen is used as an important tool in
quality control of instruments and to ensure that all instruments are synced in
oxide is used for
measuring ozone, being very important for chemical reactions related to
cloud/aerosol formation and for deposition of pollutants such as mercury. Ozone
depletion and atmospheric mercury depletion events are related to each other.
Nitric oxide (NO) is also used as a standard for measuring nitrogen compounds
(NO, NOx, NOy), which again are important parts of the atmospheric chemistry
an international project with more than 300 researchers from 70 institutions
across 20 countries. They are driven to understand our planet´s most mysterious
and least hospitable regions, gathering vast amounts of data for future
expedition´s planned duration is 388 days from 20 September 2019, planned end
12 October 2020.
Polarstern will be resupplied by additional icebreakers from China and Russia.
ice drifts at an average speed of 7 km a day.
nations are involved in the expedition.
the expedition 600 experts will be on board and 300 people will work in the
background to make the expedition possible.
Polarstern will travel about 2 500 km.
Polar night with no sun continues for 150 days.
people are assigned as “polar bear watch” to ensure researchers´ safety.
winter, temperatures down to -45 degrees Celsius are expected.
expedition´s operating costs alone are 200 000 euro per day. Not including cost
of instruments and researchers.
will be monitoring stations as far as 50 km from Polarstern.
sea ice must be at least 1.5 m thick for necessary infrastructure to be set up
on the surface.
will be taken at altitudes up to 35000 m and depths of 4000 m below the
date, there has never been a comparable expedition in the central Arctic.