The Tara research schooner is now in the High North for a new scientific adventure. Over the next seven months, it will travel 25 000 km around the Arctic Ocean via the Northeast and Northwest passages to collect data on polar marine ecosystems and biodiversity and their vulnerability to global change and human activities.
The Tara Oceans Polar Circle expedition will serve to complete the objective of the Tara Oceans Expedition (2009-2012): to collect plankton in all the oceans of the world. These tiny organisms form the base of the marine food chain, store CO2 and use their photosynthetic activity to act as an immense oxygen pump.
However, their ecosystems remain one of the least explored fields of oceanography. Biologists and oceanographers will focus their research on the edge of the ice pack, where plankton is most abundant.
Other issues will also be explored, including the assessment of mercury levels in the atmosphere and in the sea, and the concentration of plastic particles
Such unprecedented measurements will facilitate our understanding of their impact on the arctic ecosystem.