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Arctic Floating University departs from Arkhangelsk

July 11, 11:19 UTC+3 ARKHANGELSK

The Arctic Floating University’s expedition will finish on August 2

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© Lev Fedoseev/TASS

ARKHANGELSK, July 11. /TASS/. The Arctic Floating University on board the Professor Molchanov scientific vessel began its tenth voyage from Arkhangelsk on Tuesday, July 10. The vessel will go to the White, Barents and Kara Seas; main studies are planned for Novaya Zemlya’s north-eastern shore, a TASS correspondent said.

The Arctic Floating University is a joint project of the Northern Arctic Federal University (NAFU) and the Northern Department on Hydrometeorology and Environment Monitoring. The voyage participants research Arctic territories in various scientific directions. The voyages feature Russia’s leading scientists; students from many universities learn how to work in the Arctic conditions and listen to a big course of lectures.

"The jubilee, tenth, expedition, dubbed Terrae Novae (New Land) features 58 researchers from four continents, from nine countries: Russia, Italy, Nigeria, Serbia, France, Switzerland, Germany, Canada and China," NAFU’s head Elena Kudryashova told TASS. "The participants are students, post-graduates, scientists from Russian and foreign scientific and educational institutions."

"The expedition will study the northern part of the Novaya Zemlya archipelago, which is not well-studied; they have many plans in biology monitoring and in analyzing risks the locals face as pollutants may get into food," she added.

24 days in Arctic seas

The voyage will continue for 24 days. "The educational and research programs will be bigger than in the previous voyages, when expeditions lasted for 20 days, and, at the same time, the term of 24 days is not critical for the youth to remain in the expedition’s limited space," the expedition’s head, NAFU’s deputy head on foreign cooperation, Konstantin Zaikov told TASS. "I would like to stress, it is not a practice, it is a floating university, and here we should mind that remaining for long in the sea is not easy for those who are not professional sailors."

According to the expedition’s head, research is planned both in the sea, and on the shore. "Our program is complex: hydrometeorology studies, analyzing Atlantic waters in the Barents and Kara Seas, registration of warm streams’ possible deflections in those areas; meteorology tests to see the changing parameters of the atmosphere’s aerosol-optical features," he said. "While the first part is of a fundamental character, the second part is rather of educational value."

The Floating University’s members will make descriptions of cultural and historical objects on Novaya Zemlya, he continued. "In this, we shall cooperate with the Russian Arctic national park, they are sending their specialists with us," he said. "This part will involve our partners from Switzerland: the Swiss students will help to describe and register found objects." More than 20 participants from Swiss universities are aboard the scientific vessel, he said, adding "those are citizens of different countries, including Nigeria, France, Spain and Serbia."

The expedition’s head highlighted the program to study pollution in the Arctic. "We have an interesting project to trace how highly toxic substances move along the biology chain: we shall analyze their shares in fish and birds," he said. "We know that some pollutants, found in the Arctic, do not originate there: for example, birds bring them from fields in South-Eastern Asia, or from other regions, and certain highly volatile pollutants, which due to the tiny sizes spread far away and are hazardous for people."

Training specialists for the Arctic

The Northern Department on Hydrometeorology and Environment Monitoring’s acting head, Roman Yershov, told TASS about the Floating University’s important role in training specialists for work in the Russian Arctic zone. "This project is a direction, where we train the future human potential, as the young specialists have a direct opportunity to learn what it is like to work in the Arctic," he said. "It is impossible to explain it in theory, this should be tried."

NAFU’s post-graduate Anna Trofimova is leaving for the sixth voyage on board the scientific vessel. "This is my sixth expedition to the Arctic; back in 2012, when this project was only beginning, I could not imagine what to expect, this was an adventure, which I have never regretted," she told TASS. "The Floating University produces complex specialists, it is impossible to focus here on a certain direction, as everything is overlapping."

From 2017, she has been working at a laboratory for the Arctic biology monitoring, which studies risks for the people who liver permanently in the Far North. "This work includes biological, chemical tests of flora and fauna samples, health tests for the people living here, and, consequently, legal initiatives aimed at human safety in the Arctic," she said.

In 2018, the Floating University project is financed by NAFU, participating organizations and sponsors. "This year, we have received support from the Norilsk Nickel Company," the expedition’s head told TASS.

The Arctic Floating University should be supported by the state, the meteorologist said. "It is a state program of training specialists, and it should be supported, including by the state, it should receive state subsidies," he said. "As of now, the situation is following: this year <…> they (NAFU - TASS) had to find outside sources to continue the program."

The Arctic Floating University’s expedition will finish in Arkhangelsk on August 2.

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