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THE CONTEXT  

The Arctic sea ice has been shrinking for thirty years, its surface area at the end of summer has decreased by 40% and its average thickness by 50%, going from 3m to 1.5m. The summer ice pack could disappear completely around 2030, which will have radical consequences on the global climate. Even with the help of the most advanced satellite observations, current climate prediction models are unable to explain this acceleration. It is therefore urgent to put the ice under close and direct surveillance by field measurements, which is what several international research programmes are doing with various surface means: icebreaking vessels, drifting stations, automatic buoys... The catamaran of Sébastien Roubinet (7m, 200kg empty weight, 2,35m wide) seems quite derisory compared to these heavy means but precisely it is an asset: thanks to its lightness and the absence of mechanical propulsion, it touches the Arctic Ocean like a dragonfly placed on the water, without disturbing the environment. Hybrid vehicle capable of operating on water and ice floes, it is therefore a unique observation platform capable of providing first-class data; the counterpart is obviously that only very light and energy-efficient scientific instruments can be part of the journey.

   

THE OBJECTIVES

 
Or three ways of looking at science through the way of the pole in close collaboration with Sébastien, Eric and Vincent

- Ice monitoring 

Many scientists are working to understand the environmental dynamics of the planet, and for several decades, the mechanisms of climate change especially in the Arctic have attracted their attention.
For the past years, the area and thickness of the Arctic sea ice has declined considerably: its surface at the end of the summer has decreased by 40% and its average thickness by 50%, from 3 to 1.5 metres. The summer ice could disappear completely on the 2030 horizon, which will have decisive consequences on the global climate.
Even with the most advanced satellite observations, current climate prediction models are unable to explain this acceleration.
It is therefore important to get a maximum field data of ice. The expedition, "Quest Through The Pole" proposes to participate in this effort partnering with the major international research programmes. It is added to various existing means such as icebreaking vessels, drifting stations and automatic buoys.
Climate change is not uniform and global climate models predict a relatively warmer future in the high latitudes.
Despite the complexity of the models and the reduction of uncertainties, lots of unknowns remain. The dynamics of the Arctic remain uncertain as they play a major role in the overall mechanism of the planet's energy flows. These unreachable and perpetually moving territories are mainly observed "remotely" by satellites. Local measurements and post expedition analyzation of water, ice and air are very limited.
The scientific surveys from the expedition "Quest Through The Pole" will allow the scientific community to have access to a single set of samples and measurements based on a transect (field observation device) of the Arctic Ocean.

- Human impact assessment

Sébastien's "ice catamaran", thanks to its light weight and the absence of mechanical propulsion, will glide over the Arctic Ocean like a dragonfly on the water, without disturbing the environment.
One of the most important observation the expedition will be able to provide is to trace the human impact on the Arctic environment through the analysis of organic material, metals and other pollutants present in the Cryoconite: these fine particles transported by the wind accumulate on the surface of the sea ice and are partly responsible for the meting process.
Daily water and ice samples can provide information on the carbon cycle, contaminants and energy flows.
For this, Sébastien has been associated since 2007 with Roman Teisserenc, researcher at the Functional Ecology and Environment Laboratory of Toulouse. Roman is the scientific leader of the project.

Roman Teisserenc, teacher/researcher at the Institut National Polytechnique de Toulouse, has been working with Sébastien since 2007. In collaboration with CNRS researchers in the functional ecological and environmental laboratory "Ecolab", they will seek to trace the human impact on the Arctic environment.

 

- Behavioral Studies

Another area of research is physiology and psychology. Behavioural studies in polar environments such as stress and fatigue reactions or sleep are of major interest to many researchers.
Among them, Robin Candau, professor/researcher at the Faculty of Sports Sciences of the University of Montpellier I, will work on the study of the factors of anxiety and fatigue in this extreme Arctic sailing environment.
Each day of the expedition, Sébastien and his teammates will fill out a survey based on their physical and mental state. Through these questions, researchers hope to understand the physiological and psychological mechanisms.

Robin Candau is a professor/researcher at the Faculty of Sports Sciences of the University of Montpellier I. He collaborated with Sebastien back in 2007 during the North West expedition. In 2018, he will work with his team on two points:

 

  1. Case study in extreme conditions : factors of anxiety and fatigue during an Arctic navigation; The purpose of the study could be to examine the alterations in performance (here weighted distance covered by ice and wind conditions), cognitive abilities and psychological state induced by fatigue related to the physical effort (moving the boat through the ice blocks, enduring the conditions - cold temperatures, humidity factor, fog...)
  2. Case study on energy input and energy expenditure during an extreme polar navigation.

 


   
   

 

 

 

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