MOSAiC has temporarily suspended aerial survey flights in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
The flights focusing on the atmosphere and sea ice were to be carried out in four sub-campaigns from March to September.
The research airplanes Polar 5 and Polar 6 were due to reach the Svalbard archipelago on March 11, but after a researcher tested positive for coronavirus, the campaign has been suspended.
Dr Andreas Herber from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, said, “The highly unusual situation at the moment leaves us no choice. We’d like to thank everyone who was involved in the months of preparation, and who did everything within their power, up to the last minute, to make the flight campaigns a reality.”
MOSAiC’s expedition on icebreaker Polarstern continues, with researchers and crew returning from the second leg making good progress since their departure on March 6.
The planned crew exchange by airplane should still happen in early April, but project management and participants are preparing for possible changes.
Participants will be tested twice for coronavirus, once before leaving their point of origin and once more at the expedition’s point of departure.
Polarstern is equipped with a quarantine ward in the event of an infection on board.
The decision follows the Norwegian government announcement on Thursday, March 12 that travelers to Norway from non-Nordic countries without a residency permit will have to leave or be placed in quarantine for 14 days.