Expedition launch – Arctic Sense 2021 – Oceanographic
The research sailboat Barba leaves Norway for a four-month collaborative research and communications expedition to the Arctic.
In 2019, we joined the research vessel Beard as part of his Arctic Whale expedition to study the effects of microplastics on Atlantic whale species in Icelandic coastal waters. Today, Barba is once again heading to the polar Atlantic as part of the Sense of the arctic shipping. This four-month collaborative science and communication expedition will see a rotating team of scientists and storytellers embark on a 3,000 nautical mile fact-finding trip to the Arctic to research, document and share valuable information and untold stories about life. marine, with a focus on the keystone of the Arctic and subarctic whale species.
“The impacts of climate change are occurring much faster and more intensely in the Arctic than anywhere else. Soaring temperatures, rapidly melting ice, acidification and sea level rise, combined with pervasive levels of marine plastic pollution threaten all arctic ecosystems, ”said the director of the Barba’s expedition and Captain Andreas B. Heide. “As time goes on, documenting and researching the threats to marine life in this highly inaccessible region is more important than ever to inform and inspire effective safeguards for this fragile environment. “
In partnership with the research group Wise whale, and with the support of the University of Stavanger and the University of Iceland, a comprehensive and innovative research plan has been established to collect as much information as possible. Whale Wise co-founder Tom Grove said: “By using new and exciting methods, including drone aerial imagery and custom acoustic networks to monitor the impact of human activity on whale populations, we we will ask: what species inhabit the region and why? How do humans influence the health of the population? Are these populations resilient to future disturbances? We will explore the Atlantic polar ecosystem, learn what we can about historical activities, assess its current health, and predict the impact of a developing Arctic.
Arctic Sense is divided into four key chapters. Departing from Stavanger, Norway, the team will sail north along the Norwegian coast to Svalbard. During this transmission stage, the team will refine research equipment and methods, including a custom towed hydrophone network to document sperm whales in the waters off Andøya. Next, Barba will spend 6 weeks in Svalbard to undertake fieldwork on marine plastic pollution, documentation of cetaceans, as well as broader research and documentation on polar bears and walruses. In Svalbard, the team will be joined by our editor, Hugh Francis Anderson, and will sail via the tiny island of Jan Mayen, once a prolific Dutch whaling station. Here, Hugh will lead the shore work and reenactment of Sir James Mann Wordie’s 1921 expedition to the top of the world’s northernmost active volcano, Mount Beerenberg, on the centenary of his first ascent. The mission aims to share valuable historical and cultural stories, while asking questions about the impact of climate change on the island’s glaciers and marine ecosystems. “By recreating and sharing an untold story of polar exploration, we hope to uncover the impact climate change has had on this tiny Arctic island over the past century,” said Hugh. “With a rich history of whaling, where populations of wild whales have been hunted to extinction, we hope to find out if the numbers rebound and which species remain in the waters off Jan Mayen Island. . The expedition will end with sailing south to the Faroe Islands and Shetland, before ascending the Thames to London. Barba will then return to Stavanger, Norway.