The following is an excerpt from Jonathan Amos | February 19, 2017 | BBC.com |
It is being billed as the biggest single Arctic research expedition ever planned.
Germany is going to sail its 120m-long research vessel, the Polarstern, into the sea-ice at the top of the world and just let it get stuck so it can drift across the north pole.
The 2,500km (1,550-mile) trip, to begin in 2019, is likely to take a year.
Researchers hope to gather valuable new insights on the region where Earth's climate is changing fastest.
Last month the extent of Arctic sea-ice was the lowest ever recorded for a January (during the satellite era), with temperatures several degrees above the long-term average.
Prof Markus Rex will lead the so-called MOSAiC project:
"The decline of Arctic sea-ice is much faster than the climate models can reproduce and we need better climate models to make better predictions for the future.
"There is a potential that in a few decades the Arctic will be ice free in summer. That would be a different world and we need to know about that in advance; we need to know is that going to happen or will that not happen?
"Prof Rex outlined the plan for the Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate here at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
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