Arctic Floating University 2023 Expedition to Study Ecosystem Changes in Coastal Arctic

The Arctic Floating University 2023 scientific and educational expedition will take place from 23 June to 14 July on the Professor Molchanov vessel as part of the plan of events of Russia’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2021–2023, which are managed by the Roscongress Foundation.

The expedition will conduct crucial monitoring studies to understand the state of the Arctic ecosystems amidst climate change and the growing manmade impact on the region. The study will primarily focus on biodiversity, pollution of the Arctic seas and island territories with marine debris, microplastics, and organic and inorganic pollutants, and the hydrometeorological situation in the seas of the Arctic Ocean.

The expedition programme includes a number of applied studies. In particular, students and specialists will test a small-class remote-controlled uninhabited underwater vehicle, test a new method of complex technical diagnostics using modern equipment, and also study space weather factors in the polar regions of Earth’s lower orbit that could impact failures in small spacecraft.

In addition, during the expedition, the researchers will search for cold-resistant cellulose-decomposing bacteria. The strains and genetic sequences obtained using the latest methodology will have biotechnological significance in the recycling of polymer composite materials through biodegradation, which is the most natural and eco-friendly way.

In 2023, the environmental research conducted during the expedition will have a new focus: measurements of the underwater noise caused by the Professor Molchanov research vessel to substantiate and develop domestic standards for civil marine technology.

Recommendations will also be prepared as part of the expedition to ensure that the participants in such voyages are able to psychologically adapt more successfully to extreme climatic and social conditions and group activities.

The expedition will depart from Arkhangelsk. The Professor Molchanov vessel will pass through the waters of the islands of Novaya Zemlya, Franz Josef Land, as well as the White, Barents, and Kara Seas.

There will be 55 people on the expedition, including 22 students and graduate students from 13 scientific and educational institutions and organizations. Among them are Lomonosov Northern (Arctic) Federal University, Russian State Hydrometeorological University, Northern State Medical University, Lomonosov Moscow State University, the Institute of Geography of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, St. Petersburg State University, National Research University Higher School of Economics, and St. Petersburg State Marine Technical University.

The Arctic Floating University 2023 project aims to provide new knowledge about the state of and changes in the ecosystems of coastal Arctic territories, train young specialists in Arctic professions, promote Russian scientific, historical, cultural, and natural heritage in the Arctic nationally and internationally, and promote polar-related jobs among young people.

The expedition is being held with the support of the Russian Geographical Society, the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East and the Arctic, VTB Bank, Novatek, Norilsk Nickel, and the government of the Arkhangelsk Region.