AMP (Actualité Media Presse) Principauté de Monaco, TVA FR 30000070622

Press release - Kicking off Planet Solar’s 2013 expedition!

From May to August 2013, the team led by Professor Martin Beniston, climatologist and director of the Institute of Environmental Sciences at UNIGE, will sail along the Gulf Stream’s ocean current, one of the most important regulators of European and North American climates, thus traveling over 8,000 kilometers from Miami (United States) to Bergen (Norway) by way of New York (United States), Boston (United States) and Reykjavik (Iceland). "A continuous series of physical and biological measurements will be taken in the water and air to study the key parameters of climate regulation, specifically atmospheric aerosols and phytoplankton", explains Professor Beniston. The researchers will primarily be interested in ocean eddies, whirlpools that carry large amounts of energy, and in areas of deep water formation, strategic locations where surface waters dive down to the seafloor, fueling the "ocean conveyor belt", a three-dimensional current system that allows all ocean basins to interconnect.

One of the instruments installed onboard, the Biobox, developed by the applied physics group at the University of Geneva, is currently the only device capable of making a thorough analysis of aerosols using laser technology. It will be tested for the first time aboard the MS Tûranor PlanetSolar. Powered by solar energy, the ship does not emit any polluting substances that could distort the data collected.

The scientists’ objective is to understand the complex interactions between physics, biology, and climate, which will eventually allow them to refine the climate simulation, especially those related to energy exchanges between the ocean and the atmosphere. Furthermore, the project will raise public awareness of climate issues through the development of educational activities and resources.

"This scientific expedition reflects our commitment to putting climate change and environmental issues at the heart of our concerns. The University of Geneva’s involvement in these areas continues to grow, and new initiatives will be launched in the coming months", says Jean-Dominique Vassalli, UNIGE chancellor.

 

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