A hovercraft-based ice drift station gives researchers access to previously inaccessible regions of the changing Arctic sea ice cover off the coast of Greenland.
Imagine spending the winter camping near the North Pole, drifting on a raft of sea ice-temperatures below −30°C, five months of almost total darkness, and roaring sounds of crushing ice nearby (but you don't know exactly where).
On 30 August 2014, our two-man crew prepared to do just that. For the next 11.5 months, the sea ice and a hovercraft would be their home. Our goal was to obtain ocean sediments for studies of the Mesozoic and Cenozoic history of Arctic Ocean from 252 million years ago until the present time.
The venture is the product of cooperation between Norway and Germany, under the direction of the Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center, located in Bergen, Norway. Our project, the Fram-2014/15-these nations' first ice drift in the central Arctic Ocean in more than 100 years-shows that scientifically successful mobile ice drift stations can be established in the Arctic at low cost.