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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 25 Feb 2020

Submitted as: research article | 25 Feb 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

The MOSAiC ice floe: sediment-laden survivor from the Siberian shelf

Thomas Krumpen1, Florent Birrien1, Frank Kauker1, Thomas Rackow1, Luisa von Albedyll1, Michael Angelopoulos1, H. Jakob Belter1, Vadlimir Bessonov2, Ellen Damm1, Klaus Dethloff1, Jari Haapala3, Christian Haas1, Stefan Hendricks1, Jens Hoelemann1, Mario Hoppmann1, Lars Kaleschke1, Michael Karcher1, nikolai Kolabutin2, Josefine Lenz1,4, Anne Morgenstern1, Marcel Nicolaus1, Uwe Nixdorf1, Tomash Petrovsky2, Benjamin Rabe1, Lasse Rabenstein5, Markus Rex1, Robert Ricker1, Jan Rohde1, Egor Shimanchuk2, Suman Singha6, Vasily Smolyanitsky2, Vladimir Sokolov2, Tim Stanton7, Anna Timofeeva2, and Michel Tsamados8 Thomas Krumpen et al.
  • 1Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Am Handelshafen 12, 27570 Bremerhaven, Germany
  • 2Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, Ulitsa Beringa, 38, Saint Petersburg, 199397, Russia
  • 3Finnish Meteorological Institute, Marine Research, P.O. Box 503, 00101 Helsinki, Finland
  • 4Association of Polar Early Career Scientists, Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Telegrafenberg A45, 14473 Potsdam, Germany
  • 5Drift & Noise Polar Services, Stavendamm 17, 28195 Bremen, Germany
  • 6German Aerospace Center, Remote Sensing Technology Institute, SAR Signal Processing, Am Fallturm 9, 28359 Bremen, Germany
  • 7Naval Postgraduate School, Oceanography Department, 833 Dyer Road, Building 232, Monterey, CA 93943, USA
  • 8University College London, Dept. of Earth Science, 5 Gower Place, London WC1E 6BS, UK

Abstract. In September 2019, the research icebreaker Polarstern started the largest multidisciplinary Arctic expedition so far, the MOSAiC (Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate) drift experiment. Being moored to an ice floe for a whole year, thus including the winter season, the declared goal of the expedition is to better understand and quantify relevant processes within the atmosphere-ice-ocean system that impact the sea ice mass and energy budget, ultimately leading to much improved climate models. Satellite observations, atmospheric reanalysis data, and readings from a nearby meteorological station indicate that the interplay of high ice export in late winter and exceptionally high air temperatures resulted in the longest ice-free summer period since reliable instrumental records began. We show, using a Lagrangian tracking tool and a thermodynamic sea ice model, that the MOSAiC floe carrying the Central Observatory (CO) formed in a polynya event north of the New Siberian Islands at the beginning of December 2018. The results further indicate that sea ice in the vicinity of the CO (< 40 km distance) was younger and 36 % thinner than the surrounding ice with potential consequences for ice dynamics and momentum and heat transfer between ocean and atmosphere. Sea ice surveys carried out on various reference floes in autumn 2019 verify this gradient in ice thickness, and sediments discovered in ice cores (so called dirty sea ice) around the CO confirm contact with shallow waters in an early phase of growth, consistent with the tracking analysis. Since less and less ice from the Siberian shelves survives its first summer (Krumpen et al., 2019), the MOSAiC experiment provides the unique opportunity to study the role of sea ice as a transport medium for gases, macro-nutrients, iron, organic matter, sediments, and pollutants from shelf areas to the central Arctic Ocean and beyond. Compared to data for the past 26 years, the sea ice encountered at the end of September 2019 can be already classified as exceptionally thin, and further predicted changes towards a seasonally ice-free ocean will likely cut off the long-range transport of ice-rafted materials by the Transpolar Drift in the future. A reduced long-range transport of sea ice would have strong implications for the redistribution of biogeochemical matter in the central Arctic Ocean, with consequences for the balance of climate relevant trace gases, primary production and biodiversity in the Arctic Ocean.

Thomas Krumpen et al.

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Thomas Krumpen et al.

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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
In October 2019 the research vessel Polarstern was moored to an ice floe in order to travel with it on the one-year long MOSAiC journey through the Arctic. Here we provide historical context of the floe's evolution and initial state for upcoming studies. We show that the ice encountered on site was exceptionally thin and was formed on the shallow Siberian shelf. The analyses presented provide the initial state for the analysis and interpretation of upcoming biogeochemical and ecological studies.
In October 2019 the research vessel Polarstern was moored to an ice floe in order to travel with...