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The Ocean Mapping Expedition to map the greenhouse gases at the surface of the oceans in the wake of Magellan

The Swiss expedition The Ocean Mapping Expedition, which has been engaged since 2015 in a four-year world tour of sailing in the wake of Magellan to measure the human impact on the oceans, is launching a new program to monitor methane and carbon dioxide using sensors installed on the Fleur de Passion sailboat, in partnership with the University of Geneva.

The purpose of this pioneering initiative called The Winds of Change: to collect ground-breaking and new ground data to enable the global scientific community to better understand the role of the oceans in the carbon cycle and the issue of global warming. Start of the program in Cebu/Mactan, Philippines, where The Ocean Mapping Expedition stops from 8 December 2017 to 20 January 2018.

The fight against global warming is everyone’s business and involves the engagement of institutional, academic as well as private actors from civil society. The proof by The Winds of Change, a pioneering program that the Swiss Fondation Pacifique and the University of Geneva are launching jointly from Cebu/Mactan, Philippines.

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Indeed, the sailing ship Fleur de Passion will soon open a new chapter in its commitment to the oceans and sustainable development issues. From January 2018, the 33-meter ketch and largest Swiss-flagged sailboat engaged since 2015 in The Ocean Mapping Expedition, a four-year world tour in the wake of Magellan designed to map the human impact on the oceans, will continuously monitor greenhouse gases (methane and carbon dioxide) on the surface of the oceans thanks to sensors installed on board. It will also have equipment that will allow parallel measurements of dissolved gas in the water column.

This monitoring will be carried out as part of a new scientific program, The Winds of Change, developed by the foundation in partnership with the aquatic physics group of Department F.-A. Forel of the University of Geneva. Unprecedented in its geographical scope, this program aims to better understand the role of the oceans in the issue of global warming. It will begin from Cebu/Mactan where the boat, coming from Indonesia, is doing a stop from 8 December 2017 to 20 January, and will continue until the return of the expedition to Seville in August 2019.

« The Winds of Change monitoring program for greenhouse gases on the surface of the oceans will allow our partner, the Department F.-A. Forel of the University of Geneva, to collect new field data on a rather hot topic, if we dare say: global warming, » says Samuel Gardaz, Vice-President for Public Affairs of the Fondation Pacifique, a non-profit organization based in Geneva and initiator of The Ocean Mapping Expedition.

Fondation Pacifique / The Ocean Mapping Expedition 1

As explained by Prof. Daniel McGinnis, head of the Aquatic Physics group of Department F.-A. Forel of the University of Geneva and project manager The Winds of Change, « climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing our time and its understanding is a major challenge for the scientific community. In order to be able to effectively reverse the trend, scientists need to have a comprehensive and accurate view of the concentrations of greenhouse gases on the surface of the oceans and to be able to better understand their role not only as reservoirs of such gases, but also as emitters, of emission source. ”

« But the oceans emit more greenhouse gases than previously estimated, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), » Prof McGinnis insists. It is therefore urgent to re-evaluate the role of the oceans in the global carbon cycle for a better understanding of global
warming issues. »

« A pioneering project such as The Winds of Change aboard the Fleur de Passion sailboat is therefore a necessity to collect in real time and continuously along the way, field data that we lack on greenhouse gases. and to allow science to take a step forward in understanding the role of the oceans in the current global warming process, » he continues.
Evaluating gas exchanges between oceans and the atmosphere

Specifically, portable sensors (ultraportable greenhouse gas analyzer) will be installed at the head of the mast and will carry out automated air sampling while equipment (Niskin bottle and YSI multi-parameter probe) implemented by the crew will be used to analyze the concentration. seawater to dissolved gas and to obtain profiles of the water column (quality, temperature variation, pH, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, chlorophyll and turbidity).

These different types of measurements will make it possible to evaluate gas exchanges between oceans and the atmosphere. The data collected will be used to validate and / or better calibrate those currently derived from satellite measurements and oceanographic and atmospheric models.

They will also help identify hotspots, which are very concentrated places, to determine where to focus future scientific research.

« The Winds of Change program once again illustrates the potential and interest of a sailboat like Fleur de Passion in terms of scientific research in addition to more conventional oceanographic vessels, » adds Gardaz. It will provide the opportunity to access essential information at a very large geographical scale to complement that available by satellite so far at a time when the global scientific community is specifically alarmed by the lack of data on this issue.

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A pure initiative of civil society

« The Ocean Mapping Expedition, as a pure initiative of civil society – in this case Switzerland and Geneva – demonstrates how much commitment to the environment and in the fight against global warming is everyone’s business, » he also says.

Professor and climate scientist Martin Beniston, for his part, emphasizes « the great importance » of The Winds of Change program from a scientific and environmental point of view. « In view of the worrisome evolution of the climate and the resulting ocean acidification, it is becoming increasingly urgent to have baseline data available to revise our concepts on the global carbon cycle, he says. As a climate physicist, I can only encourage such steps to improve our knowledge. »

Fondation Pacifique / The Ocean Mapping Expedition 2

« I would also like to welcome here the pioneering and daring joint initiative of actors from academia, in particular the Aquatic Physics group of the Department F.-A. Forel of the University of Geneva, as well as a non-profit organization, the Fondation Pacifique, in their common search for solutions to better understand and better popularize the issues we face, » he continues.

Three other scientific programs

Since leaving Seville in April 2015, The Ocean Mapping Expedition, which aims to contribute to a better understanding of the human impact on the oceans and a greater awareness of the issues of sustainable development, already leads two programs unpublished by their nature or scope: the 20,000 Sounds under the Seas program on ocean noise pollution, in partnership with the Laboratory of Bioacoustic Applications (LAB) of the Polytechnic University of Catalonia in Barcelona, led by the biologist and French engineers Michel André; and the Micromegas program for mapping micro and meso-plastic pollution on the surface of the oceans in partnership with the Oceaneye association in Geneva. So far, 120 surface water samples has been collected.

Since April 2017, the expedition has opened a second field of investigation on the theme of global warming, the second major human impact on the oceans with pollution and overfishing. In partnership with the CoralWatch project at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, the Fleur de Passion crew is conducting observations on the health status of corals, victims of bleaching due to warming waters. At the end of November, more than 1,000 observations had been made in Australia, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia, as the expedition continued its course in Magellan’s footsteps. Transmitted to CoralWatch, they feed a large database managed by the project and covering 77 countries.

Sharing the experience

In parallel with scientific programs, The Ocean Mapping Expedition includes a sharing of experience. This translates into the welcome aboard Fleur de Passion of teenagers break in the framework of the socio-educational program Young at Sea, in partnership with the Geneva association Pacifique, but also passengers embarking as team members. Since April 2015, 36 teenagers and young adults have boarded by two-three or in groups, for two months on average as part of this program as well as some 50 passengers.

Awareness and culture

Among the awareness-raising activities, The Ocean Mapping Expedition welcomes stopovers on board Fleur de Passion, especially for children. In Geneva, she organizes since the beginning of September 2017 and until January 31, 2018 the exhibition “Our spice islands” at the Bibliothèque de la Cité. In particular, there are some of the sketchbooks and drawings of the ten illustrators who followed one another “in residence” aboard Fleur de Passion.

Cebu/Mactan program of the expedition

The stop of The Ocean Mapping Expedition in Cebu Yacht Club on Mactan until 20 January 2018 will offer the public various opportunities to feel the spirit of aventure:
– Free public visits on board Fleur de Passion will be organized on 26, 27, 28 & 29 December from 2 to 6pm. – Embarking as a passenger and sailing in the Cebu region will be possible from 30 December 2017 to 14 January 2018
– On 20 January, Fleur de Passion will attend the Sinulog Festival and will be the only – if not the first ever – foreign boat to be part of the naval parade.

Fondation Pacifique / The Ocean Mapping Expedition 3

About the Fondation Pacifique
The Fondation Pacifique is a non-profit Swiss-based non-profit organization based in Geneva. It was created in 2007 by a handful of men and women driven by a strong entrepreneurial spirit at the service of the community. Since its creation, it designs, organizes and conducts at sea aboard sailing ship Fleur de Passion thematic expeditions combining scientific research programs, cultural projects, socio-educational and environmental awareness. Its ambition is to contribute to a better knowledge of the human impact on the oceans and to invite to the reflection on the place of the man on the planet sea by allowing everyone to embark as a crew member and to participate to the expedition. To this end, his expeditions are conducted in a multidisciplinary spirit and experience sharing, and are accompanied by communication actions for the general public.

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