When the largest Arctic expedition in history headed toward the North Pole last September, it was a dream come true for Matt Shupe. The atmospheric scientist had worked for more than a decade to freeze an icebreaker filled with scientists into the polar ice for a year.
Then, in March—six months into the expedition—the coronavirus triggered calamity. Shupe, who had returned from MOSAiC last winter and wasn’t due to return to the ship until this summer, was desperately trying to get back, hoping to keep the coronavirus and the rapidly melting Arctic from turning his dream expedition into a frozen nightmare.
While Shupe was sequestered in his home in Colorado, the MOSAiC expedition seemed as distant as a moonshot as it struggled with both the blessing and the curse of its isolation in the ice. Stranded on the Polarstern icebreaker, more than a hundred people worried about family members back home, threatened by the pandemic, while they were facing the possibility of being marooned until June. In the meantime, the ice around them was falling apart months earlier than expected.
This week, Shupe and more than 100 other scientists, specialists and sailors shipped out from Germany to keep the expedition afloat. InsideClimate News Senior Editor Michael Kodas wrote this week about the MOSAiC expedition and interviewed Shupe while the atmospheric scientist was quarantined in Germany prior to his departure on the mission.
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Anna Belle is a New York City-based videographer and producer. Before joining ICN, she worked on projects ranging from an exposé with Bill Moyers to PBS FRONTLINE investigations. She has filmed and produced for the New York Times and Al Jazeera English, among others. She co-produced a four-part science series for PBS with a grant from the National Science Foundation, where she reported in the slums of India and the trout streams of rural Pennsylvania, looking at the ways smart technologies have aided in the collection of scientific data. She has her master’s from UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism.
Michael Kodas, of Boulder, Colorado, is the author of Megafire: The Race to Extinguish a Deadly Epidemic of Flame, which won the 2018 Colorado Book Award for General Nonfiction and was named one of the 20 best nonfiction books of 2017 by Amazon. He is also the author of High Crimes: The Fate of Everest in an Age of Greed, which was named Best Non-Fiction in USA Book News’ National Best Books Awards of 2008 and was the subject of a question on the game show Jeopardy!. He is the former Deputy Director of the Center for Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado Boulder. As a photojournalist at The Hartford Courant he was part of the team awarded the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news coverage in 1999. He has also been honored with awards from the Pictures of Year International competition, the Society of Professional Journalists, the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition and the National Press Photographers Association. His work has appeared in the New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Boston Globe, The Denver Post, Newsweek, the Ken Burns/Lynn Novick documentary The Vietnam War and many other print, online and broadcast outlets.