Arctic Ocean Paleoceanography, ArcOP 2022

The European Consortium for Ocean Research Drilling (ECORD), the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat (SPRS) and Arctic Marine Solutions (AMS) will jointly conduct an expedition of the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP), focused on the Arctic Ocean - a key location in global climate change.

The ArcOP Expedition has been postponed by two to three years due to the uncertainties regarding safety issues with the implementation of the ArcOP expedition as currently planned.

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Science behind the ArcOP Expedition

The Arctic Ocean is a very sensitive and important region for global climate change, and is unique in comparison to the other oceans on Earth. Due to complex feedback processes (collectively known as “Arctic amplification”), the Arctic is both a contributor to climate change and a region that is most affected by global warming.

Despite this global importance, the Arctic Ocean is the last major region on Earth where the long-term climate history remains poorly known. Major advances in understanding were achieved in 2004 with the successful completion of IODP Expedition 302: Arctic Coring Expedition – ACEX implemented by ECORD, marking the start of a new era in Arctic climate exploration.

The ArcOP expedition will represent another step-change in reconstructing the detailed history of climate change in the central Arctic Ocean over the last 50 million years. ArcOP will explore a critical time interval spanning the period when prominent changes in global climate took place, during the transition from the early Cenozoic Greenhouse world to the late Cenozoic Icehouse world.

An international team of scientists, led by the Co-chief Scientists Prof. Ruediger Stein (MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental Sciences at the University of Bremen, Germany) and Prof. Kristen St. John (Dept. of Geology and Environmental Science, James Madison University, USA), will collect about 900 m of sediment cores at two sites along the Lomonosov Ridge. The expedition will last for about seven weeks offshore and will be followed by intensive investigation and sampling of the cores onshore to unlock their climate secrets.

A joint international initiative

The ArcOP Expedition will be conducted in August and September 2022 by the ECORD Science Operator (ESO) in close collaboration with SPRS and AMS.

ArcOP is a unique and challenging expedition. A fleet composed of a scientific drillship supported by two icebreakers will be used to make drilling possible in this permanently ice-covered region. Such a multi-vessel approach was employed by ECORD for the first time during the ACEX Expedition in 2004.

The selection of potential ArcOP sites is strongly based on site-survey expeditions led by the Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Sciences Bremerhaven, carried out with RV Polarstern in 2008, 2014 and 2018.


Fast facts

August to September 2022

Arctic Ocean, The Lomonosov Ridge

Co-Chief Scientists: Rüdiger Stein and Kristen St. John


  • The expedition is carried out within the International Ocean Discovery Program, IODP, part of the European Consortium for Ocean Research Drilling, ECORD.
  • IODP is an international marine research program supported by 23 countries.
  • The Swedish Polar Research Secretariat collaborates with Arctic Marine Solutions for the implementation and the Swedish Maritime Administration for the use of the icebreaker Oden.