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Arctic Floating University’s voyage finishes in Arkhangelsk

The expedition in 2019 featured 58 participants, where 28 participants represented Switzerland, Germany, South Korea, China, Romania, France and Norway

ARKHANGELSK, July 12. /TASS/. The Arctic Floating University’s 11th voyage on board the Professor Molchanov research vessel finished in Arkhangelsk on Tuesday. The expedition’s leader Konstantin Zaikov (the Northern Arctic Federal University) told TASS the expedition’s participants from 11 countries conducted studies in the Barents Sea and on Spitsbergen.

The Arctic Floating University is a joint project of the Northern Arctic Federal University and the national hydro-meteorology service’s northern branch. The expedition in 2019 featured 58 participants, where 28 participants represented Switzerland, Germany, South Korea, China, Romania, France and Norway.

Storm, ice and lectures

On the way to Spitsbergen, the expedition studied the Gulf Stream and took water probes at various depths. The plan was to take probes at 19 locations, but the expedition managed only 17. "We could not make the entire so-called Kola meridian," the expedition’s deputy leader Alexander Saburov told TASS. "At about 78 degrees north latitude, we were almost stuck in ice, and we had to skip two locations, to change the route southwards."

The Floating University offered a big educational program. Practically every scientist read lectures and told about research projects. "All the participants, including from other countries, and our specialists have learned how to work with scientific equipment," the expedition’s representative said.

Studies on Spitsbergen

At the Russian scientific center in Barentsburg, the Floating University’s participants presented their studies. They also visited the UNIS center in Longyearbyen, and New Alesund - the world’s northernmost research town. In summer, about 500 scientists work there, and in winter, the staff shrinks to about 100 people. New Alesund is home for research stations of various countries: South Korea, Italy, Poland, the UK, Germany, France, China, and others.

The expedition studied experience of Kings Bay AS - the town’s managing company. "New Alesund is a unique place, and we were happy to see how it works: for example, the town has very high ecology standards," Saburov said. "My opinion is that when we eye new Russian research stations on our archipelagos, on Franz Josef Land, on Novaya Zemlya, we should use New Alesund’s experience in logistics, ecology requirements and international involvement."

The Floating University’s Media Center’s Editor Elena Sergeyenkova took pictures of all research stages. "My task was to record all the scientific works onboard the ship, and work of the scientific teams ashore," she told TASS. "It was important to make pictures of work with all the instruments, equipment."

"All materials will be used for a video project," she added.


Pollution in the Arctic

The scientists continued to study microplastics in the Arctic. Earlier, microplastics were found in the Kara Sea. This time, the experts took probes mostly in Norway’s waters. "We have taken probes at 13 locations," Saburov said. "We can say confidently that microplastics exist there, we have found rather big quantities, but only chemical tests can give a clear picture of the concentration and origins."

Most probably, he told TASS, those are pollutants from chemical facilities and from vessels. "First of all, car tires - they are the largest pollutants in the World Ocean," he said. "Most probably, the situation in the Barents Sea is very alike."

"Results of mathematics modelling prompt that Atlantic streams must bring plastics into the Barents Sea, and thus we should measure concentrations in the sea’s western part," he added.

In 2019, the Arctic Floating University makes two voyages. The next expedition will begin on July 16 - scientists will head for the White and Barents Seas.