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Trans Arctic 2019 expedition to focus on complex studies at Arctic seas

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev inked an order to allocate almost $13 million for the studies

ST. PETERSBURG, March 22. /TASS/. Participants in the Trans Arctic 2019 expedition, organized by Russia’s hydrometeorology service, will conduct complex studies of the Arctic seas along the Northern Sea Route. The Akademik Treshnikov research vessel works for the project’s first stage. This expedition will be among the biggest recent research missions, Director of the Arctic and Antarctic Studies Institute Alexander Makarov told TASS.

The expedition of four stages started from Murmansk on March 20 to finish in autumn, 2019. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev inked an order to allocate almost 870 million rubles ($13 million) for the studies.

"The first stage began on March 20 as our research vessel the Akademik Treshnikov left Murmansk," the scientist said. "The vessel will be frozen into the ice edge north off the Franz Josef Land Archipelago and will remain drifting there for two months."

"We shall study dynamics of water and ice, evolution and drift of ice cover in the spring-summer period, will see how Atlantic waters get into the Arctic," he continued. "The expedition will consist of four stages - this is, probably, one of the biggest projects in recent ten years."

Research and international projects

According to the expert, on board the Akademik Treshnikov will work 30 scientists from the hydrometeorology service, St. Petersburg and Moscow Universities, Murmansk and Novosibirsk Universities and more than 20 experts from other research institutions, including on international projects: they will conduct a complex of atmosphere, hydrology studies and will watch processes in the areas where air and water meet.

"We have received an opportunity to bring scientific collaboration to a new level," the director continued. "We shall have joint programs with a Finnish research institute and with two organizations from Germany."

"Presently, we discuss how foreign scientists could also participate in Trans Arctic’s other stages," he added.

"During the voyage, we shall make a complex of atmosphere, ocean and geo-physics studies - so that to address all aspects at a time," he said. "Noteworthy, some works will attract helicopters so that we could receive a wider picture."

Drifting expeditions

In addition to purely scientific tasks, the researchers have two major practical targets. First of all, they will update information on ice and climate conditions along the entire Northern Sea Route.

"We shall receive up-to-date information on development of the natural conditions over the entire summer period, which is very important in the developing navigation along the Northern Sea Route, since natural processes become more complicated while the number of vessels is growing," he said. "In order to make sure navigation safety is observed at the highest level, we must update the databases constantly with new on-site information."

Secondly, the scientists will try methods of work at the North Pole ice-resistant (self-propelled) platform, which is under construction for the hydrometeorology service. This floating observatory, working as a research center, will be frozen into ice; it will drift in waters of the Arctic Ocean and will return on its own back to the port.

"The most important task for us at the expedition’s first stage would be to practice the technology of quick deployment of research complexes on ice, evacuation of those complexes, accommodation, transportation of the staff, and security issues," he said in conclusion.

Besides the Akademik Treshnikov, the Trans Arctic 2019 expedition will involve research vessels Mikhail Somov, Professor Multanovsky and Professor Molchanov.