As an extension of the Arctic plastic sampling initiated
on board Nanuq in 2016, AQUALTI with a consortium of partners
has just completed a tour of Mont Blanc, culminating in a
summit ascent, to collect unique samples from 18 Alpine glaciers.
While the transport of plastics through the oceans is beginning
to be well documented, their laboratory analysis, currently
in progress, will provide a better understanding of atmospheric
transport. As these are microscopic particles, their presence
is practically invisible to the naked eye. Results are expected
in a few months...
Deployment of a collection net in a glacier
outlet, Mont Blanc massif (c) Nicolas Zimmermann | Frederic
Gillet collecting microplastics at Mt. Blanc summit
CLEAN MONT BLANC is the result of a collaboration between
AQUALTI, the University of Savoie Mont Blanc and the Summit
Foundation, a project made possible thanks to the invaluable
support of Scott Sports SA, Dolomite 1897, PICTURE ORGANIC
CLOTHING, the Sauvain-Petitpierre Foundation, the Fondation
Eau Neige et Glace, Gaznat SA and Petzl.
Low cost, low impact science for extreme environments
Curiosity has driven mankind to the highest peaks, the deepest
ocean rifts and even into space. This attraction to go beyond
the boundaries of the known has opened up opportunities to
settle and prosper on every continent and to make human life
possible where only wildlife exists.
If the high latitudes and more generally the polar regions
have long resisted exploration, their discovery is due to
the courage and determination of explorers, but is also closely
linked to technological progress.
Historically, "the goal justifies the means" and
all these expeditions have one point in common: they mobilise
considerable amounts of resources and consequently have a
non-negligible environmental impact.
In this respect, the first ascent of Mount Everest by Hillary
and Norgay in 1953, with a team of 20 people and hundreds
of porters, making intensive use of equipment and oxygen,
is emblematic. It has become known as the "Himalayan
style". Half a century later, mountaineers successfully
climb the same peak in one day with ultra-light equipment
and without oxygen, in the "Alpine style".
Technological progress is not slow in developing either.
Whereas in the past scientific equipment was bulky and consumed
a significant amounts of energy and resources, recent developments
often allow for lightweight, robust, autonomous and smart
solutions that can fit in a backpack or even a wristwatch.
These developments indicate that we are witnessing a real
paradigm shift: quality science on board small ships is now
not only possible but also complementary to traditional expeditions.
It could provide innovative approaches to accessing new knowledge
that conventional expeditions cannot, as such small budgets
allow for more and longer campaigns.
On the same scale, the Astrolabe and Nanuq
Small sailing vessels [*] are now robust, safe, comfortable
and self-reliant, and moreover, they are very agile. They
are an efficient alternative or at least a very complementary
means to conventional logistics in the field of polar sciences
and, more generally, in exploration of remote or isolated
Extract from P. Gallinelli[a], F. Gillet[b], Low-cost and
low-disturbance science in extreme environments, GREAL reports,
a Association Acapela (Geneva, Switzerland)
b NGO Aqualti (Chambery, France)
Agenda NANUQ 2021
(May 01, 2021)
The 2021 agenda is taking shape. Need to get away? Looking
for adventure? The NANUQ 2021 project sets out to discover
the islands of the North Atlantic. See the agenda here...
(April 23, 2021)
Publication of the GREAL technical report, a collection
of articles from the Polarquest 2018 expedition on
V. DI ZENZO
La Spedizione Polare di Salomon August Andrée
e i suoi resoconti in Italia fra il 1896 e il 1930
P. GALLINELLI E F. GILLET
Low-cost and low-disturbance science in extreme environments
O. PINAZZA ET AL.
The PolarquEEEst Experiment: Measurements of the Cosmic
Muon Flux from 350 to 820 Latitude North
Generazione e analisi dell'indice di vegetazione normalizzato
(NDVI) ricavato dai dati acquisiti tramite rilievo
fotogrammetrico speditivo con UAV durante la
spedizione Polarquest2018 in prossimità di
Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen, Svalbard
Arte e divulgazione della scienza. Curatela e progetto
espositivo di una mostra per Polarquest2018
Comunicazione - Il racconto di un viaggio
Happy 2021 (December 24, 2020)
Alpine winter camp - testing a prototype wood
stove (photo Kalle Schmidt)
The whole Nanuq team wishes you an excellent and adventurous
year 2021 !!
The sound of ice
(December 20, 2020)
A sound sample of the ice noise. Far from being silent and
motionless, the world of ice is very much alive.
Make yourself comfortable, put on a headphone and relax....
Recording and photo : Kevin Monneron
NANUQ : documentary
(December 16, 2020)
NANUQ, An Arctic Journey From Past to Future
90 years later in the Svalbarb archipelago, Nanuq,
a special sailboat designed to be sustainable and
passive, fueled by an unconditional love for knowledge,
for progress, and for scientific research, crosses
stretches of sea free of ice for the first time in
decades following the journey of the Italia airship.
About the film
Length: 55 min
Director: Emanuele Licitra
Co-director: Paola Catapano
Production: Guia Invernizzi Cuminetti for Addictive
Involved TV Channel: Mediaset (RTI SpA)
Announcement : conference
(Monday December 14, 2020)
The Nanuq 2020 Blosseville, Greenland costal inventory :
A sailing expedition mapping Arctic regions, climate change
and greenhouse gases.
Peter will present their team’s preliminary 2020 expedition
report, and introduce their boat, the various interesting
projects and activities, and life onboard Nanuq. I will show
some (very) preliminary results from measurements Peter’s
team collected for us. The Aquatic Physics group began a collaboration
with Peter and his organization exploring the Arctic region
performing mapping and measurements of the Arctic seas as
well as exploring small coastal arctic ponds/and lakes. Some
of these lakes are newly accessible due to increasingly ice-free
waters. Among the many measurements performed by Peter’s
team, we will add methane/CO2 measurements as well as temperature/salinity/oxygen
Hope to see you there for a picturesque presentation and
relaxing discussion. Please forward if I forgot someone.
Best regards, Daniel McGinnis
A geographical report - book
(November 16, 2020
The Polarquest2018 Arctic expedition
A geographical report
"As any other good journey report, this
one too begins by presenting the scientific rationale
of the expedition in its geographical context, clearly
stating the reasons for the presence of a geographer
in the crew. Then comes the account, derived from
the expedition logbook and from other texts written
during the operations. Several scientific
activities – full-blown research work and methodological
tests – are then presented and discussed, putting
forth some relevant results of surveys and visits
conducted in various
«points of interests» of the Svalbard
Gianluca Casagrande, Associate Professor of Geography
at the European University of Rome and Scientific
Director of the Geographic Research and Application
Laboratory (GREAL), retraces the historical, scientific
and georgraphical context of the Plarquest2018 expedition
beyond Svalbard on board Nanuq.
Mare Plasticum - The
Plastic Sea (November 11, 2020)
Presented at the Genoa Science Festival 2020, this
newly published book covers plenty of fascinating
science, such as insights into the impacts of plastics
Mare Plasticum - a multidisciplinary approach to
plastic pollution of the oceans, seas, and rivers
and to potential sustainable solutions
"This book, written by a multidisciplinary
team of authors comprising scientists, artists and
communicators, explores one of the most pressing issues
of our time – the menace plastics pose to marine
environments and organisms. It takes readers on a
journey that begins on the beaches of Galicia..."
up to 82° of latitude north on board Nanuq
during the Polarquest2018 expedition...
flag at the italian geographic society (October 19,
IGS flag at the Italian Geographical Society
at Palazzetto Mattei, Rome, Italy, photo Gianluca Casagrande
Polarquest2018-borne IGS flag in an illuminated display box
at the headquarters of the Italian Geographical Society at
Palazzetto Mattei, Rome, Italy. The flag is with the accompanying
text and surrounded by historical navigational instruments
from the Society's heritage. As you may recall, the flag was
with us during the expedition and we signed it on the quay
at Ny-Alesund. It has been on display since our return in
September 2018 and it is still there.
"Ninety years after the polar flights of airship
ITALIA, conducted under the aegis of the Italian Geographical
Society in 1928, the Society institutionally and operationally
participated in the Polarquest2018 Arctic research and communication
expedition, onboard high-sustainability sailboat S/Y NANUQ.
Equipped as a floating laboratory, the small yacht
-displacing 23 tonnes - travelled about 3500 nautical miles
from Iceland to continental Norway reaching Greenland and
circumnavigating Svalbard Islands between July 22nd and September
The international crew of 10 members developed a complex
set of scientific activities and documentation on the geographical
and environmental status of the visited sites. During the
entire voyage this flag, signed by NANUQ's crew and by descendants
of the crew of airship ITALIA, was onboard with the scientific
equipment. It symbolically testified the Society's enduring
mission and will to accompany and support scientific research
and geographical culture, towards a better protection of our
planet for future generations"
All the best!
at the end of the world (October 10, 2020)
Plastics (10cm debris) on the beach of Nansen
Fjord on the east coast of Greenland 2020 ... terrible! Photos
Plastics visible to the naked eye are present
in the remotest parts of the planet, transported by ocean
currents. This is a terrible observation and it is no longer
a novelty, alas ... but what about plastics transported by
atmospheric currents? FLYING PLASTICS will try to answer this
question. In collaboration with the NGO AQUALTI and the University
of Mont-Blanc Savoie, the Nanuq team has taken part in the
development of an innovative sampling protocol, to be followed...
Mantamaran 2.0, by AQUALTI 2020, photo Marie
. showing a typical depression off the coast of Ireland!
Photogrammetry and digital terrain models
Botanical inventory (exploration)
Temperature and salinity profiles
3D digital model of rib sections
Methane abstraction from fresh water
Continuous monitoring of surface water temperatures
Surveys of the thermal sites could not be carried out due
to the impossibility of visiting the areas of interest in
Peter Gallinelli: expedition leader and skipper
Thierry Selz: co-skipper, doctor
Gaël Frochaux: engineer, DST probe operator and paraglider
Lisa Gallinelli Gonzalez: logistics, navigator and drone operator,
Dolores Gonzalez: logistics and navigation
Claudio Limacher: engineer, photo survey and instrument operator
Kevin Monneron: engineer, freediver, underwater recovery
Sophie Ruch: flora survey, drone and paraglider co-operator
Jonathan Selz: engineer, DST probe developer
Ophelie Selz: official expedition photographer and artist
Tamara Strasser: mountaineer, photographic survey and instrument
Gianluca Casagrande: associate professor, geographer, European
University of Rome and Geographical Society of Italy
Frederic Gillet: environmental engineer, scientific coordinator,
Daniel F. McGinnis: Associate Professor, Aquatic Physics,
F.A. Forel, University of Geneva
Dorothée Adam-Mazard: director, audiovisual productions
of the expedition
Alessandro Prunesti: Senior Lecturer, European University
of Rome, web developer
Born from the collaboration of two non-profit associations,
Nanuq 2020 is a scientific mission on the coast of Blosseville,
on the east coast of Greenland, scheduled for the end of July
The objective of this expedition will be to collect and
document samples of micro- and nano-plastics near the Greenland
At the same time, and in anticipation of future climate
change, we are taking advantage of our presence in the field
to take a 'snapshot' of the coastline by creating a 3D digital
model using innovative technology and a biological inventory.
The documentation of terrestrial and marine thermal springs
in the sector will open up new perspectives for research projects
in the future.
Based on a sailing boat with a low ecological impact, the
means implemented for this mission will be as respectful as
possible of the places visited and will be part of a 'solutions
for sustainable development' approach.
This unmapped territory that we cross reminds us that we
always need plans B and C ... when all goes well we tend to
forget it. We navigate by sight and this way of progressing
is reminiscent of glacial navigation: from a distance it looks
blocked and it is only when we get closer that we eventually
see a free passage; it can open at the last moment and even
close in again for good.
To describe this reality, the Greenlandic language has the
word 'imaqa' ... it is not our 'maybe' but rather 'it will
happen when conditions permit', a state of mind whose wisdom
we have long since forgotten.
If initially we were to convoy Nanuq to Iceland in early
spring, travel to Norway is interrupted until further notice
and the future remains uncertain. In any case, ship and crew
are ready and eagerly await the deconfinement and the best
opportunity to cast off for Nanuq2020.
2020 is also an exceptional year in terms of ice; the extent
around Svalbard this year is significantly higher than the
average of 1981-2010 and has even approached a maximum over
the same period. It is at this stage very difficult to predict
what the implications will be for the Nanuq 2020 season, except
that the East Greenland Current will be affected. However,
this does not detract from the overall trend towards a continued
decrease in the Arctic ice cap, as the following graph reminds