Valeport joins Ocean Warrior in Arctic science mission

Valeport joins Ocean Warrior in Arctic science mission

An extraordinary voyage is currently unfolding, dedicated to advancing our scientific understanding of the Arctic’s marine ecosystem and the ramifications of global climate change. A team of scientists and citizen scientists has embarked on this expedition, commencing their journey from Svalbard in early September aboard Europe’s largest wooden schooner, the SV Linden. Built in 1993, the SV Linden is a modern iteration of the original Linden from 1920 and is exceptionally well-equipped for sustainable expeditions in the high Arctic.

Ocean Warrior is the brainchild of internationally-renowned explorer Jim McNeill, who has been running scientific expeditions to the Arctic for over two decades and has acted as a consultant for natural history programmes such as the BBC’s Frozen Planet.

Designed to collect critical scientific measurements from remote areas of the Arctic Ocean in order to build up an improved picture of the changes taking place due to climate change and other factors, Ocean Warrior will also help to ground-truth data collected via satellites. 

Scientific data capture

For the first ten-day leg of the expedition (departing Svalbard on 1 September), the 18-strong team, including crew members, scientists and citizen scientists, will be tasked with building an understanding of the vessel and her capabilities, to maximise the potential for scientific data capture. The expedition aims to install and test scientific and technological equipment such as weather stations, FerryBox, CTD, bathymetry, communications and safety. Additionally, an online dashboard will be created to convey the findings and capture stories through digital and broadcast content.

The project is being supported by Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML), a world leader in the field of marine research, Valeport, which designs and manufactures oceanographic and hydrographic instrumentation, Mole Energy, Dartmoor Brewery and Henri Lloyd.

Travelling to seldom-visited areas of the ocean each year between June and October, Ocean Warrior intends to cover 10,000 nautical miles each year over the next ten years, collecting data on a range of key indicators in areas such as water quality, plankton, eDNA, salinity and ocean acidity.

This will help scientists gain a clearer understanding of the pace of changes taking place, their impacts on marine ecosystems, and what the future may hold for the Arctic region and the wildlife, populations and economies that depend on it.

“Our quest is to help scientists put a better, more immediate finger on the pulse of our planet by exploring the extreme environments on Earth in the greatest detail. These are the indicators of change, and by measuring, benchmarking and monitoring over a ten-year period, we should be able to detect changes, both good and bad. Through the citizen science aspect of the explorations we’re also enabling people from different walks of life to come and be part of something that will generate highly important scientific research,” said Jim McNeill. “I am so honoured and delighted to have Icarus and his team at PML spearheading the science. As one of the centres of excellence worldwide, I look forward to pushing boundaries together.”

Monitoring changes

Prof. Icarus Allen, chief executive of PML, who will be part of the team for the first leg of the expedition, said: “We’re delighted to be the scientific partner for Ocean Warrior and are extremely excited about the prospect of delivering research over a sustained period. To support a sustainable future for the ocean, we need to be in a position to monitor the changes that are happening. Ocean Warrior will be a valuable addition to this pursuit and I’m looking forward to seeing how we can develop the project over the years ahead.” 

Guy Frankland, head of marketing at Valeport, stated: “We understand the pressing importance of expeditions such as this, and are proud to be supporting Ocean Warrior with the provision of our leading-edge marine sensing and monitoring equipment. On board, the project team will be using our SWiFT CTDplus profiler to gather important data. High-quality, precision data is fundamental to the expedition’s success, enabling the team to measure and benchmark environmental change as the project develops.”

The SV Linden stands as Europe’s largest wooden schooner, equipped with all the necessary technology and scientific apparatus to fulfil the objectives of Ocean Warrior.
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