Norway plans to let a research vessel freeze into the Arctic ice sheet and let it drift across the Arctic Basin with researchers aboard. Russia launches similar plans.
Norway’s research vessel “Lance” will enter the pack ice to the north of Svalbard, let itself freeze into the ice sheet and drift until the ice releases it again. This journey, with is planned to start in November-December 2013 is assumed to take some six months.
When Fridtjof Nansen and his crew let their vessel “Fram” freeze into the ice sheet in the eastern part of the Arctic Ocean in 1893, it took two and a half years before the vessel became free of the ice in the Fram Strait between Greenland and Svalbard.
14 different Norwegian and foreign research institutions have expressed interest to be part of the expedition. Also Norwegian oil major Statoil has researchers that want to join the cruise, NRK writes.
Russia has the same plans to let a research vessel follow the drifting ice across the Arctic Basin, RIA Novosti writes. Russia has had floating research stations placed directly on the ice since 1937, but the rapid melting makes it harder to find ice floes stabile enough to carry whole stations. The Russian Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute believe that in the future ice floe stations will be placed close to vessels frozen into the ice, which can function as quarters and technical platforms
A great part of the research activities onboard “Lance” will be conducted by the Norwegian Meteorological Institute, who will use the expedition to test its climate models for the Arctic.
“With more open sea the water absorbs more energy and gets warmer. The ocean jet streams are being reduced and as a result of this weather phenomenons are moving slower”, Harald Steen of the Norwegain Polar Institute says to NRK. “We do not know to what degree this is happening, so this is something we will be researching on”.
The scientists will also be measuring the ice thickness to examine who fast it melts because. This has been done many times before, but then mostly on multi-year ice. Now the ice is one or two years old and behaves differently.