Week of October 20, 2019


 MOSAIC is a year- long study of polar ice, arctic weather patterns, snow chemistry, marine life, wildlife on an ice floe and many more scientific endeavors to learn about this area and gather data to build better climate models for studying global warming.  What is unusual about this project is that a German ship called the Polarstern will remain frozen to an ice floe for an entire year drifting with polar ice from the Siberian coast, hoping to end up somewhere between Greenland and Svalbard, Norway by fall of 2020.  The journey began under the direction of Markus Rex from the Alfred Wegener Institute of Germany and Matthew Shupe from the University of Colorado and NASA searching for the best ice flow that meet their needs—one that was close to 2 miles wide and thick enough ice to hold lots of scientific equipment and a landing strip for a helicopter. Another ship, a Russian icebreaker and supply ship, helped in the search.  It took at least 16 tries to find the right flow (due to very thin ice). After unloading supplies, the Russian icebreaker placed tracking data stations on different floes surrounding the Polarstern. Soon, the Polarstern was frozen tight to the ice floe. By the time the study is completed, over three hundred scientists will have taken part in this international and interdisciplinary study. Why study this area despite the dangers from fierce arctic storms that might break up the ship and roaming polar bears?  The reason is because the Arctic Seas have warmed 5 to 6 degrees in recent decades—far above global norms and the area is considered a “hot-spot” for studying global warming and its effect on climatic patterns around the earth. As we know, these changes are affecting our weather and are part of the causes of severe and extreme storms, droughts, wildfires, etc. The study hopes to add first hand data to add to radar studies from satellites and to help refine climate and weather models. The more accurate these models become, the better they can help the world deal with the effects of global warming and, hopefully, push world leaders into actively addressing the causes of man-made climate change.  It will be interesting to see what interesting data is uncovered and read about the adventures of being stuck in ice for an entire year.

EARTH STEWARD ACTION:  Join fellow Episcopalians and take the Creation Care Pledge.  Please study potential presidential candidate to discover what they would do about caring for the environment.  To find the creation pledge go to www.episcopalchurch.org/creation-care-pledge .

SOURCES:  https://.scientificamerican.com/article/ship-freezes-itself-in-arctic-ice , https://.npr.org/science/polarstern-finds-ice-floe , https://theguardian.com/2018/apr/mosiac