Counting Down to the Launch of Mega-Campaign MOSAiC

Published: 2 June 2019

Editor’s note: Anjeli Doty of the Los Alamos National Laboratory ARM team sent in this update.

Matthew Shupe
Matthew Shupe, MOSAiC’s co-coordinating scientist, discusses how ARM’s ICERAD radiometer suite will measure downwelling shortwave (visible light) and longwave (infrared) radiation during the campaign. In 2008, Shupe studied coupled ice, atmospheric, and ocean systems for six weeks at the North Pole. “A snapshot is not enough to understand how arctic seasons link together and processes work,” he says. “MOSAiC will capture rare data for 13 months.”

With only a few months before the launch of the Multidisciplinary Drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC), the largest research expedition ever undertaken in the central Arctic, teams from around the world collaborate to finish the final stages of preparation. Commencing in September 2019, MOSAiC will feature an intensive, icebreaker-based observatory that will freeze in and drift with arctic sea ice for a full annual cycle, taking atmospheric, sea-ice, oceanic, and biospheric measurements. The resulting comprehensive data sets will significantly support the arctic research community in predicting and simulating coupled arctic processes and energy flows in earth system models.

The most complex expedition of its kind, MOSAiC is expected to amass a vast crew of 600 scientists, technicians, and project managers from 17 nations. Participating research organizations include the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) user facility, which will supply and manage a comprehensive and customized instrument suite to profile the atmosphere and its interactions with the sea-ice surface.

ARM, a U.S. Department of Energy scientific user facility, will deploy its second mobile facility to MOSAiC’s central observatory, along with advanced instrumentation that will obtain physical and chemical properties of aerosols (tiny particles in the air). These measurements are critical for understanding cloud formation.

Standing at the helm of MOSAiC’s atmospheric science component is Matthew Shupe, the campaign’s co-coordinating scientist and an ARM collaborator for 15 years. He is a senior research scientist with the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado, Boulder, which is affiliated with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Earth System Research Laboratory. Shupe recently visited Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in New Mexico, where ARM instrumentation and infrastructure undergo beta testing and staging before field campaign deployments. Instruments will begin shipping out for MOSAiC in early June.

The MOSAiC expedition is scheduled to launch September 20 from Tromsø, Norway. The German icebreaker Polarstern will drift through the central Arctic from the northern Laptev Sea, a marginal sea of the Arctic Ocean off the northern coast of Siberia.

Heath Powers and Matthew Shupe
LANL’s Heath Powers (left), facility operations manager for the second ARM Mobile Facility (AMF2), and Shupe discuss the infrastructure for the customized MOSAiC instrumentation. These details include sourcing power in a marine environment, keeping instruments functioning in subzero conditions, and exporting data on limited bandwidth. Pictured is a Cimel sunphotometer, an automatic sun-tracking radiometer that will accompany the MOSAiC expedition to measure aerosols, water vapor, ozone, and direct solar irradiance (heat).
Jessie Creamean and Paul Ortega atop the Aerosol Observing System
Standing on the Aerosol Observing System (AOS) container, Jessie Creamean (right), an aerosol chemist from Colorado State University who also visited the LANL beta testing site, discusses MOSAiC’s complex logistics with Paul Ortega, an ARM team member at LANL. Creamean will travel on MOSAiC’s first leg, which is scheduled to last three months, to capture data on her guest instrument, an aerosol sampler installed inside the AOS.
Matthew Shupe with pyranometers and radiometers
“The arctic sea ice is melting,” says Shupe. “We need to understand the energy budgets in the Arctic. We need to understand the clouds and how the arctic climate system is changing and evolving as our earth system is changing.” Pyranometers and radiometers, pictured above, are integral instruments to measure solar radiation. ARM is supplying a suite of such instruments for the MOSAiC campaign, which will help scientists gauge energy transfer in the Arctic.
Heath Powers and Matthew Shupe
Shupe (right) and Powers discuss ARM’s lidars inside an AMF2 operations container. Lidars use lasers to measure atmospheric properties and are critical to meeting MOSAiC’s atmospheric measurement objectives. ARM will supply three lidars, each specializing in a different set of measurements. “ARM brings the whole package, efficiently and effectively providing unique, state-of-the-art instruments supplemented with a high degree of data availability and quality,” says Shupe.
SHIPRAD radiometer suite
SHIPRAD, a radiometer suite similar to ICERAD, is optimized for its MOSAiC deployment. Customization is needed to account for the ship’s traveling direction/movement. In the background, left to right, are: Kirsten Fox, LANL Communications; Powers; and Shupe. “The Arctic is important because it is the most rapidly changing part of the globe,” says Shupe. “We need to study it, understand it, and represent it in our models so that we can understand where our climate system is going into the future.”