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Arctic Floating University announces competition among applicants for summer expedition

The expedition will be onboard the Professor Molchanov research/survey vessel

ARKHANGELSK, March 23. /TASS/. The Northern Arctic Federal University (NAFU, Arkhangelsk) announced a competition for Arctic researchers and students, who want to participate in the Arctic Floating University expedition, due in summer, the expedition's leader Alexander Saburov told TASS.

The Arctic Floating University is a joint project of NAFU and Sevhydromet (the national hydrometeorology service's Northern branch). In 2022, the project marked its tenth anniversary.

"We are very happy to announce at last the Arctic Floating University's expedition for year 2023," the scientist said. "We have opened a competition for applicants. Traditionally, it features two categories. The first is researchers from Russian universities and scientific institutes, whose professional interests are focused on the Arctic region. The other competition is among students and post-graduates, who study at universities in the Arkhangelsk Region."

The researchers must submit to the commission their projects, on which they will be working during the voyage. Additionally, during the expedition they will also be teachers. On board the ship, they are invited to deliver a course of lectures, as well as to supervise students who study in their fields. Students and postgraduates, applying for the expedition, also must submit research projects. The commission will organize interviews with them, and, if necessary, will consult supervisors. Applications may be filed until April 5. The list of expedition participants will be announced at the end of April.

As for university students from other regions, they will have a separate competition, organized by the Russian Geographical Society. The requirements are the same, the expedition's leader said. They must have an Arctic scientific project. The expedition will feature 56 participants, where every second participant would be a student or a postgraduate.

Route and terms

The expedition will be onboard the Professor Molchanov research/survey vessel. The ship's characteristics are sufficient for practically all works at sea. It has laboratories and all conditions necessary to conduct tests. "To us it is an optimal variant today," the scientist said. "The ship's home port is Arkhangelsk. The vessel may sail quite close to the shore and researchers may use boats to get to the coast. The Professor Molchanov is quite comfortable for the expedition members to stay there for about one month."

The Professor Molchanov is scheduled to depart from Arkhangelsk on June 23. The route would be Arkhangelsk - the Kolguev Island - the Vaygach Island - Russkaya Gavan (Novaya Zemlya) - the Oranskiye Islands - Cape Zhelaniya (Novaya Zemlya) - Ledyanaya Gavan (Novaya Zemlya) - the Sosnovets Island - Arkhangelsk. The expedition will continue to July 12, though, organizers say, it may be extended to July 16.

The expedition participants will conduct various studies, some of which are regular for the Floating University's every voyage. For example, the studies of the Arctic biodiversity, the climate change processes, and pollution of water, air and soil. "We have been monitoring the situation with pollution due to the increased navigation in that area. Many vessels going along the Northern Sea Route go around Novaya Zemlya from the north," the scientist continued. "We also try to monitor the sea litter situation."

Arctic studies

The Floating University has several main goals. They are: new knowledge about the conditions and changes in the ecosystems of the Arctic seas, coastal territories, islands and archipelagos. The second task is to promote the Arctic studies and directions among young people and to train young specialists.

During the voyage, future professionals gain the knowledge of how to work on a scientific project, they gain practical skills in safe behavior in expedition conditions, and they can master new directions. For example, during expeditions, students and even researchers from different directions help each other in counting marine mammals and birds, at the same time studying them, as well as in studies of sea litter, which develops into a big problem for the Arctic seas.

While scientists usually are experienced in Arctic expeditions, students mostly lack such experience and have only a vague idea of the region where they are going, the expedition leader said. Therefore, the course of lectures on the Arctic begins well before the departure. "The most important thing is to understand the safety requirements as the nearest medical assistance is a thousand kilometers away, and is not available on the spot," he told TASS. "Thus, one of the directions is to study safe behavior skills, both at sea and on land." At sea, people need to be able to work with winches and to behave correctly in pitching, and on land - to beware of polar bears.

The project's partners and sponsors are VTB, Novatek, Norilsk Nickel, the Arkhangelsk Region's government, the Russian Geographical Society, and the Russian Arctic National Park.