The COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the largest Arctic expedition in history, according to a report from AFP. The 390-day MOSAiC expedition by the ice breaker Polarstern began in September 2019. The aim is to take the closest look ever at the Arctic as the epicenter of global warming.
It will study the atmosphere, ocean, and ice to understand how climate change affects the region and the entire world. The Polarstern icebreaker drifts with the ice close to the North Pole. It follows the footsteps of Fridtjof Nansen's expedition with his wooden sailing ship Fram in 1893-1896.
Also read | India’s Vishnu Nandan among 300 researchers to join largest ever Arctic expedition The Polarstern was just 156 kilometres from the North Pole at the end of February. Never before had a ship ventured so far north during the Arctic winter. A network of observation stations have been set up in the ice surrounding the Polarstern. Over 600 experts from many nations are involved in this research project. A new crew was to be flown in in April to replace the scientists on the mission now. But, the plan had to be reconsidered due to ban on international travel. Also read | Arctic ice melt is disrupting key ocean current, may alter climate in Western Europe: Study Now, after a two-month delay, a new crew is set to relieve the stranded team. The Polarstern will interrupt the research for several weeks to pick up the new crew. The new crew members were put on a strict 14-day quarantine and tested three times. The expedition will draw to an end in October 2020.