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What secrets of the North will the Arctic Floating University try to uncover this year

13 may 2022

13.05.2022 // The Arctic Floating University is setting off on its tenth anniversary voyage. Two routes to the Arctic archipelagos are planned for the summer of 2022. Scientific research and educational programme of the expeditions are united by the theme 'The Changing Arctic'.

In the anniversary year the Arctic Floating University is planning two expeditions. The first one is called 'Around Novaya Zemlya'. On June 24, the research vessel 'Professor Molchanov' with 55 scientists, graduate and undergraduate students on board, will depart from Arkhangelsk, cross the Kara Strait and enter the Kara Sea. The group will sail around the Novaya Zemlya archipelago, visit the Orange Islands in the Barents Sea, the Kolguev, Vaygach and Sosnovets islands and return to Arkhangelsk by July 14.

Photo from NArFU website /

The second voyage called 'Franz Josef Land' will take place in July and August on the legendary scientific expedition vessel 'Mikhail Somov', which supplies Russian polar weather stations. The 17 participants will depart from the settlement of Dikson on the Taimyr Peninsula to the Izvestiy TSIK Islands in the Kara Sea, Cape Zhelaniya on Novaya Zemlya, Wiese Island and the Franz Josef Land archipelago. They will be taken to the islands by helicopter.

The research programme has already been developed. Participants of the Arctic Floating University will study Arctic microorganisms for the first time. Perhaps new antibiotics could eventually be created on their basis. Polar bacteria's potential for medicine is extremely high, as they have learned to survive at extreme temperatures. In addition, these microorganisms secrete many enzymes that can be used in the food industry, such as the dairy industry.

Photo from NArFU website /

Another microbiology project will focus on Arctic bacteriophages — viruses that kill bacteria. It's also possible that they could help in developing new substances to fight infections.

For the first time since the existence of the Arctic Floating University, the research programme will include the study of human adaptation to the Arctic. Sleep disturbances and anxiety disorders are often documented in polar expedition participants. It is important to understand how to deal with these issues. The results may also be useful in organising rotation work. It will help study the differences in reactions between 'old-timers' and 'newcomers' of the Arctic.

One of the main directions will also be the study of historical and cultural heritage in the Arctic zone of the Russian Federation. The first object has already been outlined: satellite images show some buildings on the shore of Ivanov Bay on Novaya Zemlya. However, what they are and who built them is yet to be discovered.

Other areas of this year's research programme include studying the biodiversity of Arctic ecosystems, monitoring the state of the environment in the marine and coastal zones of the White, Barents and Kara Seas, analysing the hydrological regime of the Arctic Ocean seas and the transport of pollutants into the Arctic.

Photo from NArFU website /

The Arctic Floating University is a joint project of NArFU and the Northern Department of Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring. The project is supported by the Russian Geographical Society, the Russian Arctic National Park, and the government of the Arkhangelsk Region.

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