The survey flights, focusing on the atmosphere and sea ice, were to be carried out in four sub-campaigns from March to September. The two research planes Polar 5 and Polar 6 were originally scheduled to reach Svalbard on 11 March. After a participating researcher tested positive for corona last week, the start of the campaign had to be pushed back. In light of the current situation, the sub-campaigns planned for spring will no longer be possible.
“The highly unusual situation at the moment leaves us no choice. We’d like to thank everyone who was involved in the months of preparation, and who did everything within their power, up to the last minute, to make the flight campaigns a reality,” says Dr Andreas Herber from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), and coordinator of the MOSAiC airborne campaigns. According to Herber, the AWI will closely monitor the situation over the next several weeks and explore alternative solutions, e.g. extending the two sub-campaigns scheduled for the summer.
“We are of course very disappointed about the cancellation, but it would be irresponsible to conduct the campaign under these dramatic circumstances,” said meteorologist Professor Manfred Wendisch of Leipzig University. “We take our responsibility for the health of everyone involved seriously. Besides, postponing is not the same as cancelling. And we remain optimistic that our summer survey campaign can take place as planned.”
Meanwhile the MOSAiC expedition with the icebreaker Polarstern continues.
Read the full press release from the Alfred Wegener Institute here.