With the icebreaker into the melting season Braunschweig researchers on international climate expedition in the Arctic
Usually, Arctic expeditions with the icebreaker “Oden” are carried out in the months of July to September, when the sea ice is easiest to penetrate. This year, however, a research team started already in May to reach the Arctic Ocean at the beginning of the melting season. With the expedition “ARTofMELT” (Atmospheric rivers and the onset of sea ice melt), they want to find out why the ice starts to melt and when, and which processes are important for the melting. At the start on 7 May, two scientists from Technische Universität Braunschweig were also on board.
In order to be able to estimate the future climate – in the Arctic and worldwide – more reliably, computer models are needed in which both air currents and the processes they set in motion are described. The researchers obtain data for this on missions such as “ARTofMELT”. The international expedition is organised by the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat, a state institution in Sweden that promotes and coordinates polar research in the country.
From 7 May to 15 June, two colleagues from Braunschweig will also be on board the “Oden”. Magnus Asmussen is receiving a scholarship from the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat for the oceanographic measurements during the mission. This includes acoustic measurements from the ship as well as CTD measurements (conductivity, temperature, depth), i.e. profiles of the water column to describe the stratification in the water. “In addition to the CTD measurements and work in the ice, I support my colleague Dr. Falk Pätzold, who operates the TU Braunschweig’s helicopter probe, the HELiPOD,” says Asmussen. With the help of the probe, data can be collected on the air above the Arctic, for example, as well as on greenhouse gases, aerosols, sea ice and solar radiation.
Specifically, the air investigations are about “Warm Air Intrusions” into the Arctic, and the connection with the melting of sea ice. “The icebreaker ‘Oden’ will explicitly go to places where such events are predicted to occur. The HELiPOD provides a spatial image, e.g. a cross-section through the transition of two air masses,” says Dr. Pätzold.
For Dr. Pätzold and his team at TU Braunschweig, it is not the first participation in an expedition under extreme conditions. In 2020, he drifted through the Arctic Ocean on the “Polarstern” as part of the international MOSAiC expedition. The aim of the mission was to research the influence of the Arctic on the climate.