It was Monday, September 16th, when 20 young researchers came together for their first time in Tromsø, Norway. Some of them have travelled 36 hours from Tasmania, others have taken a 3-day ride with more than 10 trains and busses (#TraintoTromsø). Now 12 nations came together to break the ice before taking the icebreaker for a unique 6-week “summer” school into the Arctic, the MOSAiC School. The icebreaker party was not only honored by warm welcoming words of our cruise-leader Thomas Krumpen and a visit of MOSAiC leader Markus Rex and project manager Anja Sommerfeld but also some northern lights just before bedtime.
During the expedition, we would live 3-4 to a small cabin, eat the same food and wear the same clothes. We would travel as part of the largest expedition to the central Arctic of all time, so the goals for the week were two-fold: Bond as a team and study the mission. Well, and some last logistical duties.
In a mixture of lectures and practical activities, we learned how to stay safe and work effectively on a research vessel. We heard from experienced polar researchers about their first cruises and practiced using our lifejacket breathing apparatus in case of a helicopter crash landing on water. We also discussed conflict management and the difficulties of living in close quarters (hint: earplugs and eye-masks!).
We also learned about the science and importance of the expedition. Markus Rex, the head of MOSAiC, spoke to us about how MOSAiC might drive forward Arctic science, and Stanislav Ksenofontov taught and discussed with us how Arctic change is impacting the indigenous people who are closest to it.
One day before our departure of Polarstern, we spoke to and took questions from local high-school children in the Tromsø planetarium about the expedition and climate change. Finally, on September 20, we went all excited to the MOSAiC farewell party at the dock. It was an emotional time for the scientists and their supporters and a party we won’t forget for a while.
That night we boarded RV Akademik Federov, stowed our kit and turned our thoughts northward.
To be continued …
Robbie Mallett, Josefine Lenz