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Arctic floating university leaves Murmansk for Kaliningrad

During the expedition the students will learn how to work with automatic weather stations and with different hydrometeorology equipment

ARKHANGELSK, November 9. /TASS/. The NAFU (North Arctic Federal University) Marine Geography School - 2021 under the Arctic Floating University project left Murmansk, Director of the Arctic Strategic Development Institute at the Northern Arctic Federal University (Arkhangelsk) Alexander Saburov told TASS.

"The expedition has departed from Murmansk," he said. "We continue to develop our educational and scientific expeditions onboard the Akademik Mstislav Keldysh research/survey vessel, which is new to us. Our earlier expeditions were onboard Sevhydromet’s vessels: the Mikhail Somov, the Professor Molchanov. This year, we are onboard the vessel, managed by the Shirshov Institute of Oceanology (the Russian Academy of Sciences), which is one of the best scientific-research vessels in Russia. This expedition in the format of an autumn school for students and post-graduates is devoted first of all to aspects of hydrometeorology; the participants within ten days will travel from Murmansk to Kaliningrad."

Stormy challenges

The Arctic Floating University expeditions began in 2012. It is for the first time that an expedition is organized in autumn, the scientist said. "The ship will be at sea all the time, there will be no landings, it is a purely marine expedition," he explained. "For the students it is an opportunity to train practically in marine conditions; and noteworthy we expect strong winds and high waves, storms. These are additional challenges for the participants. Apparently, it won't be easy, even though the ship is so big."

The voyage features third and fourth year students. After graduating the university, they plan to work at Sevhydromet - the Northern Department for Hydrometeorology and Environment Monitoring. During the expedition they will learn how to work with automatic weather stations and with different hydrometeorology equipment. "In realistic field - or rather marine - conditions," the expedition’s deputy leader Anna Trofimova said.

Fourth-year student in Hydrometeorology Viktoria Popova since childhood dreamed to become a meteorologist. For more than 15 years her parents have been working at a hard-to-reach weather station. She has visited them many times and understands the profession. "I want to continue the professional dynasty," she said. "This voyage is a good opportunity to continue the studies which are interesting to me. I will register basic meteorology data and then will calculate effective temperatures, that is I will analyze how humans react to different temperatures."

Strict competition

All the participants have passed a competition. The organizers analyzed their academic progress, and experience in scientific studies. Besides, every participant must have a scientific project, work on which will continue onboard the vessel.

NAFU’s fourth-year student in Hydrometeorology Anna Romanova studies biometeorology and how changing meteorology parameters affect human psycho-physiology conditions. She has dreamed about the expedition for quite a time. She began working on the scientific project during the floating university voyage onboard the Mikhail Somov in June, 2021.

During the current expedition she will analyze the team’s social and psychological adaptation, professional stress and variability of heartbeat rates. "It is interesting that during the voyage we will sail in four seas - the Barents, the Norwegian, the North and the Baltic - known for their daily variability, which will have different effects on different age groups. I also want to compare the data, received in June, with the data from this voyage and to analyze the data from experienced participants in marine and polar expeditions with that from the newcomers. I am ready for studies and I expect interesting, and, more importantly, practical results," she told TASS.

The current expedition’s another novella is that before the voyage all the participants have trained at the Belokamenka complex and received sailor IDs. "It is very important, that by the time they graduate the university, they will have marine documents, which in future will help them to find jobs, including at the Northern Department and to join immediately their monitoring expeditions, which continue from May to November," the expedition’s deputy leader said.

Educational and scientific programs

During the voyage, the students will have many lectures. "Our position is that the students must receive complex knowledge about what happens now with the environment, with the climate. Those would be lectures about pollutants, biodiversity, plastics contamination monitoring, visual bird registration, radiometric studies," Saburov said, adding lectures would be delivered even during storms.

The scientific program consists of five blocks. The main block is the hydrometeorology studies, including studies of the atmosphere during the cold invasions into the Arctic Ocean. The participants will also study marine ecosystems, will watch birds and mammals. "In November, killer whales sail for reproduction towards Tromse, where we hope to see them," Trofimova said.

The expedition participants will sample water and air to see various organic and nonorganic pollutants. They will conduct geophysical observations, will work with the vessel’s navigating equipment. The voyage will finish in Kaliningrad on November 13.