MOSAiC drift expedition from October 2019 to July 2020: sea ice conditions from space and comparison with previous years

Thomas.Krumpen [ at ]


We combine satellite data products to provide a first and general overview of the physical sea ice conditions along the drift of the international Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC) expedition and a comparison with previous years (2005–2006 to 2018–2019). We find that the MOSAiC drift was around 20 % faster than the climatological mean drift, as a consequence of large-scale low-pressure anomalies prevailing around the Barents–Kara–Laptev sea region between January and March. In winter (October–April), satellite observations show that the sea ice in the vicinity of the Central Observatory (CO; 50 km radius) was rather thin compared to the previous years along the same trajectory. Unlike ice thickness, satellite-derived sea ice concentration, lead frequency and snow thickness during winter months were close to the long-term mean with little variability. With the onset of spring and decreasing distance to the Fram Strait, variability in ice concentration and lead activity increased. In addition, the frequency and strength of deformation events (divergence, convergence and shear) were higher during summer than during winter. Overall, we find that sea ice conditions observed within 5 km distance of the CO are representative for the wider (50 and 100 km) surroundings. An exception is the ice thickness; here we find that sea ice within 50 km radius of the CO was thinner than sea ice within a 100 km radius by a small but consistent factor (4 %) for successive monthly averages. Moreover, satellite acquisitions indicate that the formation of large melt ponds began earlier on the MOSAiC floe than on neighbouring floes.

Item Type
Primary Division
Primary Topic
Helmholtz Cross Cutting Activity (2021-2027)
Publication Status
Eprint ID
DOI 10.5194/tc-15-3897-2021

Cite as
Krumpen, T. , von Albedyll, L. , Goessling, H. F. , Hendricks, S. , Juhls, B. , Spreen, G. , Willmes, S. , Belter, H. J. , Dethloff, K. , Haas, C. , Kaleschke, L. , Katlein, C. , Tian-Kunze, X. , Ricker, R. , Rostosky, P. , Rückert, J. , Singha, S. and Sokolova, J. (2021): MOSAiC drift expedition from October 2019 to July 2020: sea ice conditions from space and comparison with previous years , The Cryosphere, 15 (8), pp. 3897-3920 . doi: 10.5194/tc-15-3897-2021

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Geographical region

Research Platforms

POLAR 6 > P6_222_IceBird_MOSAiC_2020
PS > 122/1 (MOSAiC20192020)
PS > 122/2 (MOSAiC20192020)
PS > 122/3 (MOSAiC20192020)
PS > 122/4 (MOSAiC20192020)

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