An icy desert, with temperatures falling far below 0 ° C, with the sun below the horizon for half a year. Then, just for the light, the moon that shines in the sky. “And in the summer, it’s the opposite,” continued Chris Bowler, CNRS’s director of research and chairman of the scientific committee of the Tara Ocean Foundation. It is the brightest spot on the planet, with more photons per day than anywhere else. A
No doubt, the Arctic is hostile to our people. But the biologist invites us not to be mistaken: “It is also a marine oasis, the species has adapted specifically to this particular condition,” he stressed. .
A laboratory boat like a spaceship
Will this unique ecosystem disappear? This is one of the questions posed by the new campaign prepared by the Ocean Foundation. Which, since 2003, has multiplied expeditions to understand the effects of climate change and human activity on the environment. He had already traveled to the North Pole between 2007 and 2008. It was with his scientific scunner TheyThe main purpose of crossing the sea ice was to sound the depths to feed the climate forecasting models of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Scheduled to begin in the summer of 2025… and with twenty years of much more ambitious expeditions to reach this extreme again. This time, They Will not be part of it. Instead, the foundation envisioned, over the past five years, that they would be a polar station, which could almost be compared to the International Space Station (ISS). “It’s both a boat, a scientific foundation, a hospital, an artist’s quarters, a place to stay… they’re trying to describe in the Ocean Foundation’s executive director Roman Trouble. “There will be a machine room, laboratory, work place, others for living together, an infirmary directly connected to Chamonix Hospital * …” Twenty people will be on board in summer, this number will be reduced to 12 in winter, explains Roman Trouble. , “The most trying season to allow everyone to have their own cabin.”
“Multiply 500 days of diversion in this sea of ice”
Scientists will make up most of the crew, but occasionally there will also be sailors, engineers, a chef or a journalist and an artist. The whole form is “like a small village in the North Pole”, describes the Roman problem. The small hamlet that needs to be diverted to full autonomy and “limit our impact on the environment as much as possible”. Everything is designed to meet these two requirements. Up to the amazing shape of this base, oval. “The most suitable for aiming for maximum energy efficiency is a fundamental problem for the missions we want to carry out,” explained the sailor and biologist. They also designed the polar station to withstand temperatures of -52 degrees Celsius. It will also be able to send ten tons of food, have a desalination station – to produce up to 1,000 liters of drinking water per day – and restore calories from the generator and supplement it with a boiler to provide central heating. Biofuels
This is the power of the polar station: it is capable of multiplying 500 days of diversion in this sea of ice. “Today, scientific expeditions to the Arctic take place between July and September, and the icebreakers that scientists bring to a standstill never stop for long, compared to the Roman Trouble. However, it takes a long time to do biology. A
Chris Bowler and Gerhard Kriner, co-authors of the CNRS Climate and the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report, are optimistic about the new knowledge that will provide such a laboratory. Undoubtedly, whatever it is, the second explains: it is actually the Arctic that one needs to understand and measure current and future climate effects. “The Arctic is the sentinel of climate change,” he explained. The effects of global warming – already + 1.1 C – from the pre-industrial era – have been felt the most in this region, as scientists predicted fifty years ago. And what follows is hardly encouraging. The map of climate change forecasts, which tracks the level of greenhouse gas emissions, lines the whole region in dark red. The most optimistic (+ 2 ° C by 2100) to the most pessimistic (+ 4 ° C) hypothesis.
“Arctic as Sentinel of Climate Change”
The first visible sign is the observed decrease in the amount of Arctic ice in the summer. “In the next twenty years, we will move from an ocean that is still largely frozen in summer to a growing open ocean, creating a new ecosystem we don’t know about,” Gerhard Kinar continued. With the Arctic Ocean at the forefront, the surrounding areas have everything to fear from this forced warming. From Greenland, to this huge ice cap, to Siberia and Alaska. “In this continental region, there are parasites, the land is frozen all year round so that there is a lot of organic matter,” explained a climate expert. As the Arctic climate changes, parasites melt and organic matter decomposes, adding more greenhouse gas emissions. A
It is this nerve center of the climate system that they want the Polar Station Foundation to constantly explore. Three years after the first departure, it is still too early to know the details of the first research programs. But Chris Bowler, the scientific co-director of the mission, already has the main direction in mind. “Before it’s too late, it will be a question of identifying the marine biodiversity of the Arctic Ocean already and understanding how it has adapted to such a hostile environment,” he began. This year-round presence allows us to gain data to understand the Arctic climate, to follow the legacy of the seasons, to note changes from one year to the next. A
A station has yet to be built
Chris Bowler has been carrying this long list of polar station promises. The first step, however, is to build it. It should start at the end of the year, Romain points out the problem. The location of the construction site is not yet known. “But it will be in Europe,” they said, referring to the director of the Ocean Foundation And it should last eighteen months. A