Microplastics: 'Polarquest' expedition in the Artic Sea completed
Polarquest2018, the expedition promoted on the occasion of the anniversary of Umberto Nobile’s expedition to the Pole, has been recently successfully completed.
On 22 August, Nanuq, the sailboat involved in the expedition that has covered 1500 miles in 18 days, completed the circumnavigation of the Svalbard archipelago, made of over 30 islands and located in the Arctic Glacial Sea north of Norway, to reach Longyearbyen (Isfjord) from which it had left on 4 August.
One of the scientific aims of the mission was to collect water samples at the most extreme latitudes to assess the presence of microplastics and microfibres. The ISMAR-CNR labs will be responsible for sample analysis.
Stefano Aliani, head of CNR-ISMAR in La Spezia said: “The sampling carried out during this expedition is the northernmost microplastics sampling ever carried out, and since we used a new sampling technique onboard, it will be possible to assess the presence of microfibres as well as microplastics for the first time at such high latitudes”.
“A total of 30 microplastic sampling stations were carried out, with one at the record latitude of 82°07 N, right on the edge of the ice”, said very young microplastic operator Safiria Buono. “One of the conclusions which can already be drawn from a simple visual check is that, even at these high latitudes, the quantity of macro plastic loitering the most remote and wildest beaches of our planet is astonishing”.
Onboard, Nanuq also hosted a cosmic-ray detector assembled at Cern which collected data to investigate the influence of cosmic rays in the formation of clouds, thus contributing to a better understanding of climate change.