Multidisciplinary Drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC)

11 October 2019 - 31 October 2020

Lead Scientist: Matthew Shupe

Observatory: AMF, MOS

Arctic climate change is amplified relative to global change and is embodied by a dramatic decline in the perennial sea-ice pack. These cryospheric transitions carry significant implications for regional resource development, geopolitics, and global climate patterns. Indeed the changing Arctic cryosphere is considered a grand challenge for global climate research. Arctic change, and its linkages with the global system, must be understood.

In addition, there is a growing stakeholder community that expects improved sea-ice forecasting for many applications. To make progress on these important issues requires developing a detailed, process-level understanding of the coupled climate system that can help to address the numerous deficiencies in numerical model representations of the Arctic. Such an understanding is only possible by making targeted, interdisciplinary measurements within the central Arctic sea ice environment.

The Multidisciplinary Drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC) initiative has been developed in response to these great challenges. It is comprised of three parts:

  1. An intensive, icebreaker-based observatory that will freeze in, and drift with, the Arctic sea ice for a full annual cycle making interdisciplinary measurements in the atmosphere, sea ice, upper ocean, and biosphere.
  2. A distributed network of targeted, autonomous measurements to characterize spatial variability on model grid-box scales
  3. Coordinated, multiscale analysis and modeling activities.

MOSAiC is a major, international effort that will require the modular participation of many different agencies and entities. DOE ARM user facility is uniquely positioned to play a critical role in this initiative by providing a comprehensive instrument suite to characterize the atmosphere and its interactions with the sea-ice surface. In support of MOSAIC, ARM will operate its second ARM Mobile Facility (AMF2) and Mobile Aerosol Observing System at the central observatory as it drifts through the central Arctic for a 13-14-month campaign starting in September 2019.

Sea ice is an integrator of energy fluxes in the coupled Arctic climate system; thus, atmosphere-ice-ocean processes impacting the flow of energy through this system in all seasons are the primary target of MOSAIC. The broader, collaborative MOSAIC initiative will allow for many inter-disciplinary studies along this theme. ARM’s involvement will target specific areas related to the atmosphere and atmosphere-surface interactions that are critically under-observed in the Arctic, are leading contributors to model uncertainties in the region, and are programmatically important to DOE research and modeling programs. The guiding science themes for this project include:

  1. Surface energy budget of sea ice
  2. Clouds and precipitation
  3. Aerosols
  4. Atmospheric boundary layer

Many fundamental issues concerning these themes are lacking in observational constraints, particularly in the Arctic winter and through consecutive seasons. For example, little is known about the energy budget of first-year sea ice, the annual cycle of central Arctic aerosol concentrations, the spatial organization of cloud-precipitation systems relative to sea-ice heterogeneity, the winter boundary layer evolution, or cloud-surface coupling processes over sea ice. The proposed ARM observations will be ground-breaking in many ways and will ultimately have a dramatic impact on the Arctic research community and its ability to represent coupled Arctic processes in numerical models.


Gijs de Boer Allison McComiskey David Turner
Klaus Dethloff Ola Persson Johannes Verlinde
Elizabeth Hunke David Randall
Wieslaw Maslowski Michael Tjernstrom


Newsom RK and R Krishnamurthy. 2020. Doppler Lidar (DL) Instrument Handbook. Ed. by Robert Stafford, U.S. Department of Energy. DOE/SC-ARM/TR-101.

Bartholomew MJ. 2020. Laser Disdrometer Instrument Handbook. Ed. by Robert Stafford, ARM user facility. DOE/SC-ARM-TR-137.

Goss HB, KS Dorsey, CB Ireland, MR Wasem, RA Stafford, and R Jundt. 2020. 2019 Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Annual Report. Ed. by Kathryn Dorsey, ARM user facility. DOE/SC-ARM-19-032.

Muradyan P and R Coulter. 2020. Micropulse Lidar (MPL) Instrument Handbook. Ed. by Robert Stafford, U.S. Department of Energy. DOE/SC-ARM/TR-019.

Muradyan P and R Coulter. 2020. Radar Wind Profiler (RWP) and Radio Acoustic Sounding System (RASS) Instrument Handbook. Ed. by Robert Stafford, U.S. Department of Energy. DOE/SC-ARM/TR-044.


Mattioli V, C Accadia, C Prigent, S Crewell, A Geer, P Eriksson, S Fox, J Pardo, E Mlawer, M Cadeddu, M Bremer, C De Breuck, A Smette, D Cimini, E Turner, M Mech, F Marzano, P Brunel, J Vidot, R Bennartz, T Wehr, S Di Michele, and V John. 2019. "Atmospheric gas absorption knowledge in the sub-millimeter: Modeling, field measurements, and uncertainty quantification." Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 100(12), 10.1175/BAMS-D-19-0074.1.


Pithan F, G Svensson, R Caballero, D Chechin, T Cronin, A Ekman, R Neggers, M Shupe, A Solomon, M Tjernström, and M Wendisch. 2018. "Role of air-mass transformations in exchange between the Arctic and mid-latitudes." Nature Geoscience, 11(11), 10.1038/s41561-018-0234-1.

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MOS Data Sources

Name Full Name Browse Data
AERI Atmospheric Emitted Radiance Interferometer Browse Data
AOS Aerosol Observing System Browse Data
AOSMET Meteorological Measurements associated with the Aerosol Observing System Browse Data
CAMSITE camera that monitors a site area Browse Data
CCN Cloud Condensation Nuclei Particle Counter Browse Data
CEIL Ceilometer Browse Data
CEILPBLHT Boundary-layer height data with CEIL Browse Data
CO-ANALYZER Carbon Monoxide Analyzer Browse Data
CPC Condensation Particle Counter Browse Data
GNDRAD Ground Radiometers on Stand for Upwelling Radiation Browse Data
HTDMA Humidified Tandem Differential Mobility Analyzer Browse Data
IRT Infrared Thermometer Browse Data
KASACR Ka-Band Scanning ARM Cloud Radar Browse Data
KAZR Ka ARM Zenith Radar Browse Data
LDIS Laser Disdrometer Browse Data
MARINEPRECIP Marine Precipitation Instrumentation Browse Data
MET Surface Meteorological Instrumentation Browse Data
MFR Multifilter Radiometer Browse Data
MPL Micropulse Lidar Browse Data
MPLCMASK Cloud mask from Micropulse Lidar Browse Data
MWACR Marine W-Band (95 GHz) ARM Cloud Radar Browse Data
MWR Microwave Radiometer Browse Data
NAV Navigational Location and Attitude Browse Data
NEPHELOMETER Nephelometer Browse Data
OZONE Ozone Monitor Browse Data
PBLHT Planetary Boundary Layer Height Browse Data
PRP Portable Radiation Package Browse Data
PSAP Particle Soot Absorption Photometer Browse Data
RAIN Rain Gauge Browse Data
RWP Radar Wind Profiler Browse Data
SMPS Scanning mobility particle sizer Browse Data
SONDE Balloon-Borne Sounding System Browse Data
TSI Total Sky Imager Browse Data
UHSAS Ultra-High Sensitivity Aerosol Spectrometer Browse Data
WB Weighing Bucket Precipitation Gauge Browse Data