Timing an Arctic Expedition

The MOSAiC (Multidisciplinary Drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate) expedition officially launched on September 20, 2019 when the icebreaker Polarstern set sail from Tromsø, Norway. The Polarstern will be looking for an ice floe that it can freeze into and drift along with across the Arctic for a year. The ice must be thick enough throughout the year to support the scientists and instruments that will be on it, but close to thinner ice that is easy to drill through.

Why did the MOSAiC expedition begin in September?

It turns out this isn't random, but a strategically chosen departure date. Challenge your students to use the National Snow and Ice Data Center's Charctic Interactive Sea Ice Graph to come up with an answer to this question.  Then, read more about this question here.

Photo: M. Van Woert, NOAA