Climate scientist on a polar expedition: The ice is less thick

The physicist Dorothea gut was with the "Polarstern" in the Arctic. In this Interview, she tells of the everyday life on the research vessel. A Russian iceb

Climate scientist on a polar expedition: The ice is less thick

The physicist Dorothea gut was with the "Polarstern" in the Arctic. In this Interview, she tells of the everyday life on the research vessel.

A Russian icebreaker (R) accompanied by the "Polarstern" in the ice-covered Arctic photo: Esther Horvath/Alfred-Wegener-Institut/dpa

taz: You* have just come from the Mosaic research expedition in the polar sea. What motivated you to work about three months in the dark and in the cold down to minus 45 degrees?

Dorothea belly: For me, as a scientist, it was incredibly fascinating to work in the polar winter scientific. That was before, if at all, only in the summer.

Your ship, the "Polarstern", it drifts in the footsteps of Fridtjof Nansen, who was in 1893, with its wooden research ship "Fram" in the ice drift, freezing. Why is the research in the Arctic Winter even today, so difficult?

The "Polarstern" has been set to Yes in the ice and moves with him. To come alone, there is a challenge. If a ice has in its travel against the wind, it may be that he moves within the ice, but due to the ice drift as a net movement backwards moves. When I was picked up by the researchers on the first expedition section, we have used from 86° to North to Tromsø in Norway for three weeks, it could also be just one.

Why is it important to explore the Arctic in the Winter?

so Far, we have used for the Polwinter estimate from the summer data. But that doesn't really work, because there are mechanisms or processes that do not exist elsewhere. We know, for example, clouds forming at the mouth when we breathe out in freezing weather. This Condensation there is in the Arctic often. Cloud formation works fundamentally different. And the processes at the Pole the climate influence here – as such, gone is the Arctic not far.

photo: private

, 56, is a physicist at the Geomar Helmholtz centre for ocean research in Kiel. There, she worked for many years as a climate researcher, and had been on several research expeditions in the polar sea.

What is still, especially in the Expedition?

mainly, the size: there are six expeditions in a row, ranging from September 2019 until September 2020, through a whole year. The goal of the "Mosaic" is to understand the processes in the Arctic ocean, ice and atmosphere. The fact that so many scientists from different disciplines, and we operate be installed on networked devices on the ice, we have the opportunity to network issues such as: what is the interaction of the Wind, the ice, the snow thickness and gas flow are? I have investigated with colleagues from ice-cores in terms of gas Flows and ice formation processes. The sea ice plays a role in the Transport of methane.

methane as a Gas, is 34 times the climate-damaging CO2 in the meadow. What is the significance of your research for the understanding of climate change?

There is a basic understanding for the creation of forecasts. We want to investigate whether there is climate change. This is the scientific consensus, just as you would not ask a physician whether there are cancer. It comes to see how the Arctic is changing through him. Because now the ice breaks up in the summer, we will assume that the Arctic is already in a new mode.

Mosaic (Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate) is in many ways the biggest polar research project of our time. A total of 600 different scientists from 20 Nations, were on the research vessel "Polarstern" in the Arctic ice freezing and to move for 390 days, with the Drift over the Pole. They collect data, publish them later. Is passed the 140 million Euro Expedition of scientists of the German Alfred-Wegener-Institute.

You were in the summer of 2015, with the "Polarstern" at the North pole. Have you noticed there is a climate change?

Four years is too short a time to compare in relation to climate change. But overall, the ice is less thick. As we were now arrived, and our research camp build, it was not easy to find a suitable floe.

What are the practical consequences if the polar ice is thinner?

There are Feedback mechanisms that keep the System either for a while stable or completely out of balance. This has a large influence on the heat budget of the earth. Then we have, for example, impacts on the shipping routes. And by a sea level Rise of social conflicts and large streams of refugees, of people who lose their home are more likely.

In the preparation for the Expedition you have learned to shoot.

Yes, I was able to polar bear guards take over. To learn that was important to me, because arms are for me something very Strange.

Have you seen polar bears?

Yes. Of course, the polar bears were curious, we penetrate in their area. It was fascinating to see them in their environment. We have not expelled them, so that they come back. Polar bears are not dangerous for humans, hunt them but we are not your prey scheme. The weapons are only for the unlikely case of an emergency.

there Were other dangers?

There is a lot that can happen. A colleague has a broken leg, when he slipped on icy steps. I had been on the ship for a tooth problem. We have a doctor on Board, but of course it's not a dentist, and in the end he pulled my Tooth. To not would be at home probably have been necessary.

What was the experience of working so long in the cold and darkness?

is Outside working on the ice and in the Wind very tiring. If we have taken ice Cores, we had extreme time pressure: We had to get out of the barrel before you freeze it. In addition, I had to be careful not to me, for example, the glasses iced. We have worked as much as we could, but it was also important to listen to his body.

How has this vast, white landscape under a black sky on top of you cast?

As in October the sun disappeared completely, it was a crazy experience. The noise, the power of the ice, are incredible. We had a Situation, as it was pitch dark with a bright red moon, absolutely magical. And when Running my feet made a noise on the ice like a squeak of water on the glass.

On the "Polarstern" are about a hundred international researchers and crew members at a time on Board. There were conflicts between the two of you?

We had to work very closely together, the scientists with each other and also with the Crew. Clearly there are conflicts. This is also important so you understand well. The Narrowness comes in: Because we stayed in two cabins, there wasn't really privacy. I was more attentive and realized that the others are also more attentive. It was like a big family or a small village, we look out for each other.

As you have Polaris on the "MS" of your leisure time designed?

How much leisure time did not exist. For physical exercise I've done in a small group Yoga. Sometimes there were game nights, or a self-organised Bar.

What you missed on the ship the most?

On the journey there was a shortage of fruit and vegetables. Pretty quick even frozen vegetables ratio was interned. The First thing I ate after my return, was a large plate of fresh salad.

The expedition leader Markus Rex makes a lot of Publicity: There is a press team, Blogs, an Online logbook, journalists on Board. What the researchers think about so much media hype?

It is also a burden, as a result, a great pressure is created. On the other hand, the perception of the Expedition is important because parts of the question to the Public is still climate change. It is good that the Arctic is more and more awareness.

*The author is the sister-in-law of Dorothea belly.

Updated Date: 01 February 2020, 18:00

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