Bremen – They braved the cold, the polar bears, saw no sunlight for 150 days at a time and shivered at temperatures of up to minus 40 degrees. Now the researchers of the greatest Arctic expedition of all time are back! After almost 13 months at sea, the ship “Polarstern” docked in Bremerhaven on Monday.
Expedition leader Prof. Dr. Markus Rex (53) compared the expedition to a trip into space: “In the Arctic, we felt like we were on a strange celestial body. The deep black nights of winter are unique. “
Instead of extraterrestrials, however, the researchers regularly encountered polar bears. Logistics manager Verena Mohaupt (37) was responsible for the polar bear watch. She says: “We had a total of 45 polar bear encounters during the” Mosaic “expedition – most of them at night or during the lunch break.”
Fortunately, nothing ever happened. Mohaupt: “I don’t think that we fit into their prey scheme, but a curious bear can also pose a danger. I’ve learned that every bear is different and it is impossible to predict how it will behave. “
The greater danger for them were cracks in the eternal ice that could hardly be seen because of the snow. And sometimes scientists just forgot about the cold around them. Mohaupt: “When people are very absorbed in their work, chilblains quickly develop.”
Changing crews of around a hundred scientists were on board for the “Mosaic” expedition, including marine biologists, atmospheric and climate researchers. The ship drifted through the polar sea on an ice floe while the researchers collected data on the atmosphere, sea ice, ecosystem and biogeochemistry.
Your results will now be evaluated. But expedition leader Markus Rex has already brought a warning from his trip. “We saw the ice disappear. We saw it die. It’s even riddled with holes at the pole. “
And further: “If we humans carry on like this, there will be no more ice in the summer in a few decades. Then we can take boats from Bremen, Hanover and Hamburg directly to the North Pole! “
Logistics expert Steffen Graupner was amazed on his return: “It’s funny to come home to this Corona world. Everyone wears masks, we don’t even know that. “