Breaking the ice: ORNL explorer back from the Arctic

Published: Jan. 23, 2020 at 10:39 AM EST
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You think it's cold in East Tennessee? Try getting close to the North Pole, where the wind chills in early autumn routinely whip down to -25°C (-13°F).

One Oak Ridge tech whiz is back from a polar plunge with a purpose. Check out the incredible video and stories he brought back!

Stuck on the ice for an entire year, just a couple hundred miles from the North Pole, that's the goal of MOSAiC.

"This is the biggest Arctic exploration that has ever been made by humankind," Misha Krassovski said after getting back to his office in Oak Ridge.

Krassovski and more than 60 scientists launched from northern Norway in late September 2019. The goal while on the Polarstern vessel: get locked to the ice. On purpose.

"To see what's going on in the Arctic, considering what's going on in climate change that we have right now," Krassovski said.

Misha's job: Set up and maintain the complex science equipment floating atop polar ice.

"We receive data that can be studied in the future," Krassovski said.

the Oak Ridge National Laboratory computer scientist is back after phase one of the year-long project.

"I never thought that I am one of the first to ever step on the ice," Krassovski said. "Everything was just absolutely unique."

In his downtime on the icy city, Misha took pictures of polar bears, ski-doos and icebergs.

"A fantastic light show," Krassovski explained his picture's aperture.

"The sun comes up and it stays low above the horizon. And you don't quite understand. Is it the sunset or the sunrise?"

There's a cost to being among the first to ever set foot here:

"When you stop working, you start freezing," Krassovski said.

But the engineer said there's a plus to being a Russian turned Tennessean: he's used to the ice.

"It was not very cold. The coldest that. we have was -25°C," Krassovski said.

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