Let’s hope the Polarstern is heading in the right direction!

The basic idea of the MOSAiC expedition is to let the Arctic drift carry the Polarstern which will become embedded in sea ice across towards Greenland and across the top of the North Pole in the next 12 months, before exiting the ice cap close to Spitzbergen at the end of next summer. They chose a floe which they think is thick enough and suitably positioned on the 4th of October to do this, so I imagine the Polarstern is now at all-stop with the sea ice filling in around them. I know it’s early days but if their website map is accurate they already seemed to have drifted a considerable difference but not in the right direction! At the moment the drift seems to be taking them (southeast?) towards Alaska. Logically the ship should be aligned in the direction they expect the drift to take them, so if this is the case the drift or the wind is pushing the ship sideways and to the right.

It’s far from cold at 85° north at the moment as the lastest SYNOP observations from the Polarstern show, with the air temperature a balmy -2.5°C, which I would think is almost tropical for this time of year up there. They are reporting strong to near gale force northwesterly winds which might well be pushing them in the wrong direction. Presumably when they are locked solid into the ice pack this won’t happen and they will start to drift in the right direction. I notice that the Polarstern occasionally includes a southeasterly direction and speed in their observations (03, 04 & 07 UTC). Directions around the North Pole sends my brain into a spin I’m afraid. You would think that there was only one direction from the North Pole and that was south, but what direction do you take if you want to go towards Greenland (SW) or Siberia (E)?

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