The biggest Arctic expedition in history will return to the German port of Bremerhaven on Monday after a year-long mission, bringing home observations from scientists that sea ice is melting at a “dramatic rate” in the region.
Coronavirus restrictions mean there will be no grand fanfare when the German Alfred Wegener Institute’s Polarstern ship docks.
But the information gathered by researchers as the ship drifted through the ocean trapped in ice will be vital to helping scientists understand the effects of climate change.
In the summer, the researchers saw for themselves the dramatic effects of global warming on ice in the region, considered “the epicentre of climate change”, according to mission leader Markus Rex.
“We could see broad stretches of open water reaching nearly to the Pole, surrounded by ice that was riddled with holes produced by massive melting,” Rex said.
His sobering conclusion: “The Arctic ice is disappearing at