This mission, labeled as Action of the Decade of Ocean Sciences for Sustainable Development 2021-2030 (the “Ocean Decade”), will be conducted by French explorer Jean-Louis Etienne and will be carried out aboard the “zero emissions” oceanographic platform Polar Pod, which will be powered by six wind turbines and driven by ocean currents and winds.
The project is coordinated by France’s National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), in collaboration with the National Center for Space Studies, and is supported by 43 institutions and universities from 12 countries.
Among the objectives listed are to investigate atmosphere-ocean exchanges, because its waters are believed to capture half of the carbon dioxide absorbed by all the oceans, to carry out an inventory of biodiversity, to evaluate human pollution (microplastics, pesticides, heavy metals…) and to monitor marine dynamics by satellite.
According to Unesco, all the information will be accessible to oceanographers, climatologists and biologists from all over the world, and at the same time will make it possible to carry out in “real time” a major international educational project on life sciences, the earth and the environment, in collaboration with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
Construction of the platform will begin next June and its departure for Antarctica is scheduled for early 2024, where, attracted by the continent’s circumpolar current, it will travel around the world twice in the Southern Ocean until 2026.