MOSAiC Monday - November 4, 2019

Where are they now?

An update on the MOSAiC expedition


The Polarstern locked in sea ice during the polar night

The MOSAiC expedition has been going on now for just over 6 weeks. On September 20th, the Polarstern set sail from Tromsø, Norway with the Russian support icebreaker Fedorov close on its tail. On October 4th, the Polarstern reached the ice floe that it will be frozen in and drift along with for the next year. Shortly thereafter, the Fedorov began deploying a 'Distributed Network' of scientific instruments around the Polarstern, and scientists began setting up science cities on the ice. As of October 24th, all science cities have been set up, although changing ice floe conditions can mean changes to the city set-ups at any time.  Photo: Esther Horvath


Track the Polarstern


Cities on the Ice

Over the past week, MOSAiC researchers have been busy setting up the research camps, or 'science cities'. Met City, where meteorological measurements will be taken, is now complete with both 12 m and 30 m-tall meteorological towers standing on the ice! Ocean City, the closest research site to the Polarstern, is almost in full operation. Here, scientists will be able to take measurements at different depths in the ocean by lowering instruments through a hole in the sea ice. Close to Ocean City is Balloon Town, where a red tethered balloon named 'Miss Piggy' used for measuring atmospheric profiles will live.

Read more about Met City

The sea ice is a dynamic and ever-changing place, which can make it tricky for setting up 'permanent' research stations. The team setting up ROV City experienced this firsthand:

ROV camp site

Dynamic Ice and ROV Rescue

On Monday, October 21st, the ROV team identified a location for setting up their research camp. The team made a 1.5 m x 1.5 m hole in the ice through which they will deploy a remote-controlled underwater robot. At this 'ROV City', scientists will measure things like ice thickness, water temperature, salinity, light, and chlorophyll. They will also be able to see beneath the ice using underwater cameras.  Photo (L): Esther Horvath



But the dynamic and ever-changing Arctic sea ice had other plans for ROV City...


Team ICE rescues their camp



On October 22nd, an ice ridge formed between the Polarstern and ROV City, burying parts of a cable supplying power to the research site. Researchers were able to pull the cable back out of the ridge. However, that night, a crack in the ice opened up between the Polarstern and ROV City, disconnecting the camp from the Polarstern's ice floe and causing it to drift. In the morning, the ROV team decided to rescue their equipment, recovering it and returning it to the icebreaker via helicopter. Photo (R):  Marcel Nicolaus


Learn more about sea ice dynamics

Listen to the sound of sea ice cracking


NGSS - Engineering 

A MOSAiC of People

While the focus of MOSAiC is for scientists to collect important data about the Arctic climate, the expedition wouldn't be possible without the cooks, doctors, helicopter pilots, polar bear guards, ship mechanics, and other invaluable crew members. You don't have to be a scientist to participate in exciting research adventures in remote parts of the planet! 

Baking at Sea

Meet the Polarstern crew

Question icon#askmosaic: Surrounded by Arctic Wildlife 

Student Question: Do you think you will see any other wildlife in the Arctic?

Thanks for your question! Emelia Chamberlain, a graduate student scientist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, has an answer that may surprise you:

Well, yes. We expect to see lots of wildlife - just perhaps not the type you might think. The occasional polar bear or seal are cool, but we will be absolutely surrounded by marine microbes. Microbes are microscopic organisms (algae/phytoplankton, bacteria, archaea, fungi & viruses etc) that make up the 'unseen' majority of diversity in the Arctic. These tiny, generally single-celled, organisms play a huge role in the Arctic food web by recycling nutrients like carbon and nitrogen, and providing energy for upper trophic levels. On MOSAiC, we expect to find active microbial communities in both the water column of the Arctic Ocean and within the sea ice matrix itself. In 1 mL of seawater there is likely to be between 0.5 and 1.5 million bacteria alone! However, in hard-to-reach Arctic sea-ice, the actual community structure (how many of who is where) of marine microbes is still largely unknown. As the Arctic changes rapidly it is important that we establish the diversity of these baseline communities. Therefore, one of the research goals of MOSAiC with respect to marine microbes will be to characterize who is living where and determine what are they doing when (photosynthesis vs. respiration vs. more complex metabolisms).      

Video of microbes beneath sea ice

In this video from MOSAiC expedition training in Utqiagvik, Alaska, you can see what happens when you lower a GoPro camera beneath the ice. All that green/brown gunk you see sticking to the bottom of the ice is actually just a lot of a type of sea-ice algae known as diatoms. The species seen here is common in Arctic sea ice and will probably be sampled regularly during MOSAiC. Globally, these little phototrophic powerhouses are responsible for 1 out of every 3 breaths you take! Video: Jeff Bowman 


Emelia Chamberlain will be on the MOSAiC expedition from June - October 2020 studying biogeochemistry and ecosystem processes in the Arctic.
NGSS _LS icon NGSS SEP - Asking questions

10-minute clock icon MOSAiC Weekly Tracking

Plot the Polarstern

Each week we will provide you with the latitude and longitude coordinates of the Polarstern so that your students can track its journey across the Arctic in your classroom.

Download the map to plot coordinates

Download a larger map of the Arctic for a bigger picture view of the expedition area

Location of the Polarstern
 Date  Latitude  Longitude
 September 16, 2019  69.68 N  18.99 E
 September 23, 2019  72.31 N  26.93 E
 September 30, 2019  85.12 N  138.05 E
 October 4, 2019**  85.08 N  134.43 E
 October 7, 2019  85.10 N  133.82 E
 October 14, 2019  84.85 N  135.03 E
 October 21, 2019  84.97 N  132.73 E
 October 28, 2019  85.47 N  127.07 E
 November 4, 2019  85.88 N  121.70 E

 **Day when MOSAiC reached the ice floe that the Polarstern will become frozen in and drift with for the next year.

Log MOSAiC Data 

What happens in the Arctic as the seasons change? Find out firsthand with real-time Arctic data, provided for you here each week. 

Download a MOSAiC Data Logbook to keep track of Arctic conditions over the course of the expedition

Arctic Data*
 Date  Length of day (hrs)  Air temperature (deg C) at location of Polarstern  Arctic Sea Ice Extent (million km2)
 September 16, 2019  13.25  High: 10   Low: 4.4  3.9
 September 23, 2019  12.35  High: 6     Low: -1  4.1
 September 30, 2019  9.1  -4.7  4.4
 October 4, 2019**  6.27  -13.0  4.5
 October 7, 2019  3.05  -8.2  4.6
 October 14, 2019  0  -14.7  4.8
 October 21, 2019  0  -12.8  5.4
 October 28, 2019  0  -18.3  6.8
 November 4, 2019  0  -18.9  8.0

*Note: We expect data to fall within the following ranges: Length of day, 0-24 hours; Temperature, -40 to 14 degrees C; Sea ice extent, 3-15 million km2

**Day when MOSAiC reached the ice floe that the Polarstern will become frozen in and drift with for the next year.

Ship icon Follow the Journey

PolarTREC educator Katie Gavenus just returned from a 6-week stint in the Arctic aboard the Russian icebreaker Fedorov on the first leg of the MOSAiC expedition. Read the journal entries she wrote during her time there, and check out the Education Extensions at the end of each journal entry for more Arctic-related classroom activities. 

Read Katie's journals
Peruse other expedition blogs
Browse all Arctic and polar-related educational resources
Check out the MOSAiC Monday Archives

NGSS iconMOSAiC Monday and the NGSS

Good news for educators in the U.S. teaching with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) or similar! We will now be tagging MOSAiC Monday engagements with the NGSS Disciplinary Core Idea subject(s), Science and Engineering Practice(s), and Crosscutting Concept(s) that they most closely connect to. Look for these symbols listed below each engagement: 

Disciplinary Core Idea Subjects
Science and Engineering Practices (adopted from the San Diego County Office of Education Science Resource Center)
Crosscutting Concepts (adopted from the San Diego County Office of Education Science Resource Center)

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Next Week
  • How can MM best serve you?
  • Living in the Arctic
  • Polar day length and 'polar night'
  • Check in with the Polarstern