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  1. This article sets the near-surface meteorological conditions during the Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate expedition in the context of the interannual variability and extremes within the past 4 decades. Hourly ERA5 reanalysis data for the Polarstern trajectory for 1979–2020 are analyzed. The conditions were relatively normal given that they were mostly within the interquartile range of the preceding 4 decades. Nevertheless, some anomalous and even record-breaking conditions did occur, particularly during synoptic events. Extreme cases of warm, moist air transported from the northern North Atlantic or northwestern Siberia into the Arctic were identified from late fall until early spring. Daily temperature and total column water vapor were classified as being among the top-ranking warmest/wettest days or even record-breaking based on the full record. Associated with this, the longwave radiative fluxes at the surface were extremely anomalous for these winter cases. The winter and spring period was characterized by more frequent storm events and median cyclone intensity ranking in the top 25th percentile of the full record. During summer, near melting point conditions were more than a month longer than usual, and the July and August 2020 mean conditions were the all-time warmest and wettest. These recordmore »conditions near the Polarstern were embedded in large positive temperature and moisture anomalies over the whole central Arctic. In contrast, unusually cold conditions occurred during the beginning of November 2019 and in early March 2020, related to the Arctic Oscillation. In March, this was linked with anomalously strong and persistent northerly winds associated with frequent cyclone occurrence to the southeast of the Polarstern.« less
  2. Arctic Ocean properties and processes are highly relevant to the regional and global coupled climate system, yet still scarcely observed, especially in winter. Team OCEAN conducted a full year of physical oceanography observations as part of the Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of the Arctic Climate (MOSAiC), a drift with the Arctic sea ice from October 2019 to September 2020. An international team designed and implemented the program to characterize the Arctic Ocean system in unprecedented detail, from the seafloor to the air-sea ice-ocean interface, from sub-mesoscales to pan-Arctic. The oceanographic measurements were coordinated with the other teams to explore the ocean physics and linkages to the climate and ecosystem. This paper introduces the major components of the physical oceanography program and complements the other team overviews of the MOSAiC observational program. Team OCEAN’s sampling strategy was designed around hydrographic ship-, ice- and autonomous platform-based measurements to improve the understanding of regional circulation and mixing processes. Measurements were carried out both routinely, with a regular schedule, and in response to storms or opening leads. Here we present along-drift time series of hydrographic properties, allowing insights into the seasonal and regional evolution of the water column from winter in themore »Laptev Sea to early summer in Fram Strait: freshening of the surface, deepening of the mixed layer, increase in temperature and salinity of the Atlantic Water. We also highlight the presence of Canada Basin deep water intrusions and a surface meltwater layer in leads. MOSAiC most likely was the most comprehensive program ever conducted over the ice-covered Arctic Ocean. While data analysis and interpretation are ongoing, the acquired datasets will support a wide range of physical oceanography and multi-disciplinary research. They will provide a significant foundation for assessing and advancing modeling capabilities in the Arctic Ocean.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2023
  3. With the Arctic rapidly changing, the needs to observe, understand, and model the changes are essential. To support these needs, an annual cycle of observations of atmospheric properties, processes, and interactions were made while drifting with the sea ice across the central Arctic during the Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC) expedition from October 2019 to September 2020. An international team designed and implemented the comprehensive program to document and characterize all aspects of the Arctic atmospheric system in unprecedented detail, using a variety of approaches, and across multiple scales. These measurements were coordinated with other observational teams to explore cross-cutting and coupled interactions with the Arctic Ocean, sea ice, and ecosystem through a variety of physical and biogeochemical processes. This overview outlines the breadth and complexity of the atmospheric research program, which was organized into 4 subgroups: atmospheric state, clouds and precipitation, gases and aerosols, and energy budgets. Atmospheric variability over the annual cycle revealed important influences from a persistent large-scale winter circulation pattern, leading to some storms with pressure and winds that were outside the interquartile range of past conditions suggested by long-term reanalysis. Similarly, the MOSAiC location was warmer and wetter in summermore »than the reanalysis climatology, in part due to its close proximity to the sea ice edge. The comprehensiveness of the observational program for characterizing and analyzing atmospheric phenomena is demonstrated via a winter case study examining air mass transitions and a summer case study examining vertical atmospheric evolution. Overall, the MOSAiC atmospheric program successfully met its objectives and was the most comprehensive atmospheric measurement program to date conducted over the Arctic sea ice. The obtained data will support a broad range of coupled-system scientific research and provide an important foundation for advancing multiscale modeling capabilities in the Arctic.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2023
  4. Year-round observations of the physical snow and ice properties and processes that govern the ice pack evolution and its interaction with the atmosphere and the ocean were conducted during the Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC) expedition of the research vessel Polarstern in the Arctic Ocean from October 2019 to September 2020. This work was embedded into the interdisciplinary design of the 5 MOSAiC teams, studying the atmosphere, the sea ice, the ocean, the ecosystem, and biogeochemical processes. The overall aim of the snow and sea ice observations during MOSAiC was to characterize the physical properties of the snow and ice cover comprehensively in the central Arctic over an entire annual cycle. This objective was achieved by detailed observations of physical properties and of energy and mass balance of snow and ice. By studying snow and sea ice dynamics over nested spatial scales from centimeters to tens of kilometers, the variability across scales can be considered. On-ice observations of in situ and remote sensing properties of the different surface types over all seasons will help to improve numerical process and climate models and to establish and validate novel satellite remote sensing methods; the linkages to accompanyingmore »airborne measurements, satellite observations, and results of numerical models are discussed. We found large spatial variabilities of snow metamorphism and thermal regimes impacting sea ice growth. We conclude that the highly variable snow cover needs to be considered in more detail (in observations, remote sensing, and models) to better understand snow-related feedback processes. The ice pack revealed rapid transformations and motions along the drift in all seasons. The number of coupled ice–ocean interface processes observed in detail are expected to guide upcoming research with respect to the changing Arctic sea ice.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2023