The Multidisciplinary Drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC) project is sending a German icebreaker into the Arctic waters, where it will freeze itself into the winter pack of ice to drift for an entire year. This will allow around 500 scientists from 17 countries to take detailed measurements of the ice, ocean, and air to understand the changing climate. CU Boulder is sending out multiple scientists to work on the project and provide materials to carry out data collection. Heavy aircraft and ships will periodically ferry researchers and supplies to and from the mainland.

The project is led by Germany’s Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI), with key support from the U.S.’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at the University of Colorado Boulder and NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory’s Physical Science Division (PSD). The U.S. represents the second-largest national contribution with funding support from NOAA, NSF, DOE, and NASA. IRISS has been working to put together our RAAVEN drones to carry out some of the CU portion of the research.

CIRES research scientist Gijs de Boer is collaborating with John Cassano of the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences and CU Boulder aerospace engineering professors Dale Lawrence and Brian Argrow to fly drones to collect data on near-surface conditions. The drones can take fine-grain airborne measurements of the lower atmosphere without a runway or other cumbersome infrastructure used by traditional planes that aren’t feasible on the ice. Their research could eventually lead to future unmanned deployments. Over the last year, IRISS has actively worked to develop aircraft that could be used for this project and others. The RAAVEN's ruggedness makes it ideal  for work in the harsh, cold conditions of the arctic. 

In October of 2019, IRISS completed building the three RAAVEN aircraft that are being sent to the North Pole as part of Project MOSAiC. Each RAAVEN is a custom outfit with a RAAVEN version of the MiniFlux sensor, which includes a 3D wind probe, dual GNSS compassing IMU, Fine Wire turbulence sensor, dual IR sensors, and a pressure/temperature/humidity sensor. These were shipped to the North Pole and await the arrival of the CU Boulder and CIRES scientists later this year, when we will work together with the team to better understand how climate change is governed by arctic sea-ice health.