"To understand what happens in the polar regions, you need team effort," said Matthias Forwick, marine geologist and head of the Department of Geoscience at UiT The Arctic University of Norway in Tromsø. Forwick went on multiple expeditions to sample sediments of the Arctic ocean floor on the Research Vessel (RV) Helmer Hanssen owned by UiT.

Also on board with Forwick was Nam Seung-il, principal investigator of research on Arctic paleoceanography and Svalbard fjords at the Korea Polar Research Institute (KOPRI). Having first met in 2004, Nam and Forwick went on joint expeditions for geological research projects in the Arctic Ocean over the past two decades. In 2014, they went on a 70-day expedition to the North Pole as well.

Their ongoing research, funded by Korea's Ministry of Science and ICT since 2015, focuses on the geological history of Svalbard and the recent impact of human-induced climate change on the region. "We go into the fjords in Svalbard and try to find out how the climate was in the past, and also how the recent climate change is visible in the sediment of the sea floor," said Forwick.

Geological data gives insight into how climate change would reshape the Arctic — and by extension, the entire planet — by offering a look into a similar event that took place perhaps billions of years ago. “Satellite data related to the Arctic sea ice has been observed starting only in 1979,” said Nam. "In order to understand the ongoing climate change and predict what would come next, we need a reference, and that is why we are looking into the past."

Korea has been ramping up its research effort in the Arctic region over the past two decades. The Dasan Research Station of KOPRI was established in Svalbard, Norway, in 2002, and the country’s first icebreaker Araon was completed in 2009. In November, the government announced a comprehensive plan to promote polar activities, which includes building a next-generation icebreaker, costing 277.4 billion ($219.5 million) won, by 2026.

By Shin Ha-Nee. Read the full article here.