After a year spent drifting across the top of the world, frozen in sea ice, a German research ship returned home on Monday, ending the largest Arctic science expedition in history, one aimed at better understanding a region that is rapidly changing as the world warms.
The ship, the Polarstern, docked at its home port of Bremerhaven nearly 13 months after it left Norway. In October, it became deliberately frozen into the ice north of Siberia, about 350 miles from the North Pole, and drifted north and west for thousands of miles, leaving the little remaining ice for good late last month between Greenland and Norway.
The expedition, with a rotating contingent of about 100 scientists, technicians and crew, encountered nosy polar bears, fierce storms that damaged equipment, thin ice conditions and, most critically, the coronavirus pandemic that scrambled logistics. There were also accusations of sexual discrimination and harassment aboard