Association of Polar Early Career Scientists


Ever wonder what happens behind the scenes on an Arctic expedition? I wondered this as I prepared for the 2019 MOSAiC school. What to bring, what I would miss, how would I find the crowded conditions on the ship? An expedition with the size and scope of MOSAiC requires many years of planning, and will yield many years’ worth of data. All of this work aside, how do scientists pass the time? What do our instruments look like? And most importantly, how do you survive for weeks without internet??? Read along to find out more behind the snapshots of the MOSAiC school in 52 seconds.

Out of the ice

October 20, 2019

Rosalie McKay MOSAiC Ambassador Blog 6 Oct 20 1 credits to Sam Cornish

After a couple weeks in the sea ice, we returned to the open ocean. In the ice, there is a lot of noise from the ice crushing on the sides of the ship but very little rocking of the ship. Back in open water, more rocking was definitely noticeable. However, throughout our leg of the expedition, we were graced with exceptionally good weather. This night we were treated to really beautiful snow which made for quite the light show on top of the bridge.






Giant, fluffy snowflakes in the spotlight (© Sam Cornish)

Return of the sun

October 22, 2019

I can’t say that I noticed anyone being outwardly grumpy with the lack of sun, we were far too busy and kept a vibrant social atmosphere. However, with the return of the sun, the mood was noticeably lighter and everyone seemed to be outside. Laughter filled the walkways and the mood was joyous. The first sunrise and sunset in some time!

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Far enough south for a sunset (© Rosalie McKay).

Logistics panel

October 23, 2019

We were lucky enough to have a few panels during the school. One prior to departure on planning to leave on a long expedition and two during the cruise, one on Storytelling and one covering logistics. Learning from others’ past experience is an important aspect of polar science. This allows expeditions to be improved to ensure that the best data is collected in the safest way possible. It’s also incredibly important to be able to communicate your work in a meaningful way. Thank you to our panel experts for the interesting discourse and advice! 

On land imparting their advice with coping with long, Arctic expeditions were Matthias Forwick, Elizabeth Jones and Alexey Pavlov. On the ship we had excellent discussions on developing logistical partnerships and scientific networks, and dealing with all of the regulations needed for remote fieldwork with Vera Schlindwein, Anne Morgenstern, Thomas Krumpen and Tim Stanton. Martha Henriques, Philipp Grieß and Marlene Göring provided an interesting discussion on sharing our science stories with a greater audience.

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Panel discussions on coping with long expeditions, fieldwork and Storytelling (© Rosalie McKay).

Lovely videos

October 24, 2019

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Students worked hard on the ship and will continue to do so during the full year of the expedition, as MOSAiC Ambassadors. Each student has developed their own project to engage with public outreach and science communication. This will help bring Polar Science and the MOSAiC expedition to different audiences all over the world. A wide variety of projects are planned, including videos, radio shows, podcasts, presentations, photography shows, and more! Watch for a MOSAiC Ambassador near you for upcoming events.

You can visit the APECS site to access ambassador projects and updates on the MOSAiC Ambassadors webpage.



A visualization of the variety of outreach projects with MOSAiC School coordinator Josefine Lenz (© Rosalie McKay).


Snow people

October 25, 2019

Even adults need to have some childish fun! The most popular expedition member, Boris Christian (the IT guy), builds a snowman on the helicopter deck. Boris was central to the expedition, making it possible to connect with the outside world. He made sure that we had an internet connection to receive important updates, such as weather and drift data, which were used for logistical planning. Expedition participants also had access to a group email account to communicate with work, friends and family. We even had WhatsApp! I did not make use of the app as I had informed my family that I would only have access to sporadic email – shhhhh don’t tell them! I enjoyed the opportunity to be disconnected.

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Building a snowman on the heli deck (© Rosalie McKay).

So emotional

October 27, 2019

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Josefine prepared a very nice final activity for us. We were each provided a set of cards to write to all of the other students. This was a way for students to share compliments and express gratitude for how others positively impacted our experience onboard. Being isolated from the rest of the world and working so closely together for weeks, it was a bit surreal to realize that this would likely be our last few days all together. It was an emotional roller coaster ride as we cleaned up the classroom, packed up all of our things and read our personal notes. It’s a bit overwhelming to read so many nice things about yourself! I have saved my cards and will take them out again when I need a pick-me-up. The mood was somber and thankful as we prepared to leave the ship.





A ‘warm shower’, positive notes from the MOSAiC school (© Rosalie McKay).

The return to Tromsø

October 28, 2019

Mixed emotions as the expedition for us drew to an end. There was a sense of accomplishment for every success of this leg of the expedition, and hope for the success of those that are continuing on during the next year. MOSAiC students walked away with satisfaction for what we learned and the networks we were able to build. There was also excitement to return home to see friends and family, and to share our stories. However, it was sad to leave and return to normal life. Lifelong friendships were formed on this cruise. It was an emotional day!

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Returning to Norway (© Rosalie McKay).

Lasting friendships

October 29, 2019

Returning to shore a few days ahead of schedule, meant that students had some time for fun in Tromsø before returning home. Though we had stayed pretty active on the ship, it was so wonderful to stretch our legs; the freedom to roam and run up a local mountain was a welcome change to the routine. Also, being able to stop at a local grocery store and choose what to eat felt like such a luxury! Even though Tromsø is objectively a small city, it felt bustling and busy compared to life on the ship.

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Overlooking Tromsø (© Rosalie McKay).

The end

October 30, 2019

Did this really happen? The time went by so quickly, it seems like it didn’t happen at all! I would like to extend thanks to every person involved in making the MOSAiC School possible and for making it such a wonderful experience. Special thanks to our main sponsors at APECS, AWI, ARICE and IASC.

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© Sam Cornish


Contact APECS

APECS International Directorate
UiT The Arctic University of Norway
Huginbakken 14
9019 Tromsø
Email: info(at)

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