log book - INTERVIEW OF ROMAIN TROUBLE ON THE NEXT TARA EXPEDITION TO THE ARCTIC: TARA OCEANS, POLAR CIRCLE
INTERVIEW OF ROMAIN TROUBLE ON THE NEXT TARA EXPEDITION TO THE ARCTIC: TARA OCEANS, POLAR CIRCLE
We will set sail in May 2013 for the Great North. Tara will attempt to go around the Arctic Ocean via the Northeast and Northwest passages, depending on ice conditions. Most scientists and institutes already involved in Tara Oceans will take part in this project. Using methodology established for the Tara Oceans expedition will allow us to make observations never done before in the Arctic.
The goal is to understand how the polar ecosystem responds to climate change, to the influx of land-based pollution, and to other activities that increasingly impact its biodiversity. Our presence there will give us the opportunity to inform the public, politicians and the business world about the most pressing environmental issues in the Arctic.
Interview with Romain Troublé, general secretary of Tara Expeditions.
Why the Arctic?
The Arctic Ocean, familiar to Tara since her 507-day drift in the pack ice (between 2006 and 2008) has been in transition over the past twenty years. The world is now paying attention to the melting ice cap -- a fundamental challenge for the climate system. Last summer, scientists observed an astonishing acceleration of melting. Some envision a total summer meltdown by 2020, whereas the IPCC estimates the total meltdown will occur in 2050!
The purpose of this mission will be to contribute to the international effort to understand the Arctic ecosystem before a probable climatic change, so that we can anticipate and adapt to changes that seem to be obviously accelerating.
Can you detail the scientific program of this expedition?
Tara can accomodate a good number of scientific approaches. Our goals and means are precisely determined before each mission. During the last Tara Oceans expedition, only the Arctic Ocean was missing in the effort to collect plankton from all the world's oceans. There is therefore a strong interest to compare Arctic biodiversity with that of other oceans. Moreover, the great cohesion of the scientific team established since 2009, their collective experience, and available equipment are all key factors for success.
In addition to a biological approach, there are many oceanographic, chemical, and climatic issues to deal with. Tara Expeditions intends to contribute to ongoing efforts by integrating a multidisciplinary team of scientists.
Have you identified the risks involved during this expedition?
We have identified several types of natural, diplomatic, and technical risks.
Natural hazards are of course difficult to predict -- the weather and the important presence of ice. These are risks that could jeopardize the expedition, for although the period of melting is getting longer, the time window before the ice reforms is short, and does not leave much room for unexpected delays. The expedition takes place mostly in waters under the sovereignty of countries bordering the Arctic, and it's possible they will not all cooperate. On the technical side, there's always the risk of a motor or generator failure, and this may cause a delay and prevent us from completing the Arctic tour before the ice reforms.
How long have you been planning this expedition?
Since 2009, Tara has traveled and sampled all the oceans of our planet except one, the Arctic Ocean. Since we had to cancel, sadly, the Arctic passage during the Tara Oceans expedition in March 2011, we've held on to this idea with Etienne Bourgois, Eric Karsenti and the principal scientists. We've been working on it since March 2012.
Do you have the necessary financing?
Not completely, but we have support from key scientific partners in France, Europe and America, as well as the support of our original sponsor, agnes b. and Prince Albert II of Monaco.
We are seeking other partners and sponsors able to participate alongside Tara for 3 years, and finance at least 30% of the budget, or 500 000 € / year.
How do you choose the expeditions? What is the guiding principle of Tara Expeditions' choices?
Tara's mission is to study and understand the behavior of the oceans confronted with ecological crisis and climate change. We've defined the most important global issues where Tara's expertise can be useful. We are also impelled to identify research programs capable of arousing the public's curiosity. Plankton, at first glance, was a difficult subject because it is invisible. But its key role in life on earth captured the public's interest. This is thanks to the significant investment of Tara's team, and the exemplary commitment of the CNRS, EMBL and CEA researchers in our outreach projects.
Often it's a story of people, meetings, and shared ideas that orient Tara's course.
Northward bound in 2013 !