100 scientists stranded on the Arctic ship during the COVID-19 pandemic after countries closed the borders
100 scientists stranded on Arctic research vessel after coronavirus pandemic causes countries to close borders
- Researchers who were part of the MOSACiC expedition in the Arctic will not be replaced by a new crew as originally planned in mid-April
- A replacement team had been set up to fly with supplies from Norway
- When Norway closed its borders, the replacement team stranded
- The original team is still waiting in the Arctic to learn when they return home
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A group of Arctic scientists have been stranded on a research vessel after global shutdowns from the COVID-19 pandemic prevented them from returning home.
The scientists took part in a project called Multidisciplinary Drifting Observatory for the Study of the Arctic Climate of MOSAiC.
The project brought in researchers from a variety of fields to study the effects of climate change on the Arctic, with new groups of scientists cycling every six weeks.
Researchers on an icebreaking vessel collecting data on Arctic climate change will not be able to return home as planned after a replacement crew departing from Norway was unable to leave the country due to travel restrictions from COVID-19
The scientists all lived aboard a large ice-breaking ship called the Polarstern, which will stock up with each new influx of researchers, according to a report in Vice.
The current group boarded the Polarstern in February and would be replaced in mid-April by a new team departing from Svalbard, Norway, to meet the ship.
However, in late March, the country closed its borders as part of the protective measures during the COVID-19 pandemic so that the new team cannot get to Polarstern on the originally scheduled date and the old team cannot leave.
The new team will instead be quarantined for 14 days and monitored for possible symptoms of COVID-19.
Assuming they all break through the quarantine period, the MOSAiC organizers are working on an icebreaker ship to transport the group to the Polarstern instead of flying.
The team currently on board the Polarstern is healthy and well stocked to survive the delay.
The Polarstern (background ship) is home to the Multidisciplinary Drifting Observatory for the Study of the Arctic Climate (MOSAiC), a research expedition with scientists from more than 60 institutions and 19 countries
“People on Polarstern are safe, they are in a virus-free environment, they have all the amenities they need,” MOSAiC expedition leader Markus Rex told Vice. “They focus on science.”
It is uncertain what will happen to the following groups of researchers who will arrive after mid-April.
More than 60 research institutions from 19 countries are involved in the MOSAiC project, and it is unclear whether travel across international borders to reach a common embarkation point will be possible as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.