Since the beginning of records, Arctic sea ice has never receded as quickly as it did during the one-year expedition of the German research vessel Polarstern called the Mosaic.
Markus Rex, the expedition leader at the Alfred Wegener Institute, said Tuesday at a press conference that the expedition, which ended in October last year, was half the amount of sea ice in summer 2020 than it was decades ago, withdrawn.
We have reached the tipping point of irreversible global warming. The disappearance of summer sea ice in the Arctic is one of the first mines in this minefield
Marcus Rex said. About 300 researchers from twenty countries embarked on the Mosaic expedition aboard the Polarstern on September 20, 2019. The research vessel has drifted on an ice floe in the Arctic Ocean for about ten months, the course and speed determined by the drifting of the ice floe driven by winds and currents. Thus the researchers were able to measure and document the entire cycle of ice from freezing to thawing.
The research, with a budget of 140 million euros, collected about 150 terabytes of data and more than a thousand ice samples.
Half of the ice in the area was thick, the researchers said, and the temperature was 10 degrees higher than that measured in the 1890s by a ship called the Fram, led by Norwegian Fridtjof Nansen. Due to the small surface area of sea ice, the ocean was able to absorb more heat in the summer, so ice sheet formation was much slower than usual in the fall.
Sea ice physicist Stephanie Arendt described it as painful “that we may be the last generation to experience sea ice that covered the Arctic in summer”.
Samples of ice and snow can provide scientists with new information about the oceans, atmosphere and ecosystem.