THE POLARSTERN, the instituter's flagship, will become an itinerant research hub, the Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory, for the study of Arctic Climate, or Mosaic.

Specialists in Arctic science - more than 60 at any time plus about 40 crew - will operate instruments on board and on the ice, with some autonomous equipment set up about 30 miles away.

The studies - of the atmosphere, ocean, ice and snow, and the interactions among them - are focused on one goal : a better understanding of how warming is affecting the region, now and in the future.

While the entire world is heating up, largely because of human activities that release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the Arctic is warming about twice as fast as other regions, and the effects are more noticeable there than anywhere else.

THE Mosaic expedition will attach to an ice flow to study long-term effects.

Just days before the German icebreaker Polarstern set sail for the largest and most ambitious climate-change research expedition the Arctic had ever seen, an air of quiet pandemonium prevailed aboard the ship.

Crates of scientific equipment - more than a million pounds in all - were stacked on deck and in corridors, scattered seemingly at random among spools of hose, gas, cylinders, duffels filled with survival gear and even a spare blade for the ship's twin propellers.

Scientists scurried about, sorting through supplies and making sure equipment was working and strapped down in the research ship's permanent laboratories and more than a dozen portable ones in modified shipping containers, just above and below deck.

The crew was performing its own last minute tasks, including lifting four gleaming new snowmobiles on board with a crane. Dangling high in the air, the machines looked like insects against the hulking ship.

 To the untrained eye it seemed impossible that the chaos would end in a matter of hours.

But on Friday evening the ship, joined by a Russian icebreaker carrying more equipment, left this port city in northern Norway, sailing east for two weeks to the Laptev Sea, north of central Siberia.

There the Polarstern will churn through the pack of ice and sidle up to an ice floe, a large expanse of intact ice, chosen on the spot after analysis of satellite radar images and other information - and cut its engine, allowing itself to be fully frozen in place.

The Russian ship will transfer its equipment to the floe and turn around.

Deliberately trapped, if all goes well the Polarstern will travel with the ice along a wind-driven route known ass the trans-polar drift toward and past the pole and eventually south, spilling out into the Fram Strait between Greenland and Svalbard, Norway, 12 to 14 months later.

''We'll just go where the ice goes,'' said Markus Rex, a researcher in atmospheric physics at the Alfred Wegener Instotute in Germany and leader of the $155 million expedition.

Organized by the Institute it involves scientists from 19 nations, including the United States, and has been five year in planning.

The honor and serving of the latest global operational efforts on the research and study of Climate Change and Effects, continues. The World Students Society thanks authors Henry Foutain and Esther Horvath.


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