Environment: Polar Pod, a laboratory floating in the Howling Fifties



Polar Pod: this is the name of the vertical and silent ship that will drift with the winds and currents in the seas of the South Pole, in order to study climate change. The new mission of explorer Jean-Louis Étienne should begin in 2023. Towed horizontally, the laboratory will then sink vertically thanks to a concrete block, and form a structure 100 meters high in the heart of the screaming fiftieths, with their waves of more than ten meters. “Under the surface (…) there are 80 meters under water, this depth gives it its stability, because it is stuck in stable waters”, explains Jean-Louis Étienne.

Thanks to its stability, Polar Pod will be able to collect more precise data. The purpose of the floating laboratory is in particular to assess the exchanges of carbon dioxide between the atmosphere and the ocean in this area. “The CO2, the carbon dioxide that we emit (…) is responsible for global warming and dissolves primarily in cold water, adds Jean-Louis Étienne. So we know that it is a major player in the climate, that it is the main carbon sink in the planet whose performance we do not know. “ The mission, led by a team of seven, three sailors and four scientists, will last three years. They will take turns to also study marine biodiversity and validate oceanographic data.

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