Researchers are planning to sail the MV Polarstern into sea ice so it can become stuck and drift across the North Pole
To facilitate climate research, the German research vessel, MV Polarstern, will become encased in ice and slowly drift around the Arctic.
The so-called Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC) project will take a year, and is scheduled to begin in 2019.
Researchers will travel 1,550 miles gathering data and taking measurements to try and gain “a new and absolutely fascinating insight into the climate system.”
The expedition will cost £54 million and according to organisers, is nearly all funded.
Scientists from 50 research institutions, including the British Antarctic Survey, will be on board.
Speaking to the BBC, the man leading the project, Professor Markus Rex, said the decline of Arctic sea-ice is much faster than the climate models can reproduce and better climate models were needed 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?” he said.
The 118-metre RV Polarstern will essentially be a floating science laboratory, gathering samples of water, ice and air.
Initial plans are to start the voyage in the newly forming autumn sea-ice in, or near, the East Siberian Sea.
MV Polarstern was commissioned in 1982 and is mainly used for research in the Arctic and Antarctica.
It is the flagship of the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany.
The double hulled icebreaker was built by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft in Kiel and Nobiskrug in Rendsburg, which built Sailing Yacht A.
It can operate at temperatures as low as -50°C (-58°F) and break through ice nearly 10-ft thick.
MV Polarstern has a top speed of 16-knots and has a crew of 44.
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