Biggest North Pole mission returns from ‘dying Arctic’
Researchers on the world’s biggest mission to the North Pole will return to dock on Monday, bringing home devastating proof of a dying Arctic Ocean and warnings of ice-free summers in just decades.
The German Alfred Wegener Institute’s Polarstern ship is set to return to the port of Bremerhaven after 389 days spent drifting through the Arctic trapped in ice, allowing scientists to gather vital information on the effects of global warming in the region.
The team of several hundred scientists from 20 countries have seen 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 witnessed how the Arctic ocean is dying,” Rex told AFP. “We saw this process right outside our windows, or when we walked on the brittle ice.”
Underlining how much of the sea ice has melted away, Rex said the mission was able to sail through large patches of open water, “sometimes stretching as far as the horizon”.
“At the North Pole itself, we found badly eroded, melted, thin and brittle ice.” (AFP | Yannick PASQUET)