BERLIN: After completing a year-long international scientific voyage to study the high Arctic, an icebreaker carrying a team of scientists from countries all across the world has returned to Germany. The scientists have been able to procure extremely important scientific data which will help us in predicting the course of climate change in the decades to come.
The RV Polarstern arrived on Monday, October 12, at the North Sea port of Bremerhaven after having to deal with the lockdowns imposed in countries across the world. According to Markus Rex, the team was successful in achieving everything they had planned to while taking only a short break throughout the year. The COVID-19 pandemic did disrupt the carefully planned travel route of the expedition. However, the team was able to manage and the mission had to face no significant problems, he said.
“We’re bringing back a trove of data, along with countless samples of ice cores, snow and water,” said Rex, an atmospheric scientist at Germany’s Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Ocean Research that organized the expedition. A total of 300 scientists from over 20 countries, including the United States of America, Britain, France, Russia and China took part in the 150 million euro ($177 million) expedition to measure conditions in one of the most remote and hostile parts of the planet. A majority of the information will be used to improve scientists’ models of global warming, particularly in the Arctic, where climate change has been the most pronounced anywhere around the world.
“We went above and beyond the data collection we set out to do,” said Melinda Webster, a sea ice expert at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, whose work is funded by NASA. She added that it will take her team years, maybe decades, to sift through all the data that their team has collected. “This is an extremely exciting time to get into Arctic science because of the changes that are happening,” she said. “We need to get all the help we can because it’s important to understand what’s going on and the more people help out, the better.”