×

Scientists prepare for arctic trip

BERLIN (AP) — Researchers from more than a dozen nations prepared today to launch the biggest and most complex expedition ever attempted in the central Arctic — a yearlong journey through the ice they hope will improve the scientific models that underpin our understanding of climate change.

The 140-million euro ($158 million) expedition will see scientists from 19 countries including Germany, the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China work together in one of the most inhospitable regions of the planet.

“The Arctic is the epicenter of global climate change,” said Markus Rex of Germany’s Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Ocean Research, who will lead the expedition. “At the same time the Arctic is the region of the planet where we understand the climate system least.”

Packed full of scientific equipment, the German icebreaker RV Polarstern will leave the port of Tromsoe in northern Norway accompanied by a Russian vessel to search for a suitably large floe on which to anchor and set up base.

As the days get shorter and the sea freezes around it, the Polarstern will slowly drift off on its own toward the North Pole while rotating teams of dozens of scientists spend two months each conducting research on the ice.