Published on July 6th, 2013 | by Amber Archangel0
PlanetSolar the Solar Boat Explores North Atlantic
There has been a slight adjustment in PlanetSolar’s “DeepWater” expedition itinerary. The sun isn’t cooperating as much as the ship’s captain Gérard d’Aboville anticipated, so he and the scientific committee have decided to concentrate on the ocean eddies located between Boston and St. John’s, Canada. An additional stopover has been added at Halifax, Canada, which they will reach prior to arriving in St. John’s. Read more via PlanetSolar.
PlanetSolar begins her hunt for ocean eddies in the North Atlantic
July 4, 2013 – Fan Pier Marina, Boston, United States. After several days of waiting for favorable weather, the MS Tûranor PlanetSolar, the largest solar boat in the world, left the city of Boston, carrying 3 scientific team members from the University of Geneva (UNIGE), and a researcher from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the largest center of its kind in the world, with whom UNIGE is collaborating for this expedition. This important stopover in the capital of Massachusetts was crucial in the planning of the “DeepWater” expedition’s itinerary, which had initially planned for a stop in Iceland, a transatlantic crossing in the direction of Norway, coming to a close in Paris.
After many discussions, hesitations and negotiations, the scientific committee—headed by Professor Martin Beniston and PlanetSolar’s captain Gérard d’Aboville—made the strategic decision to adjust the “DeepWater” expedition’s itinerary. The boat will not sail to Iceland; the measurement campaign will concentrate on the ocean eddies located between Boston and St. John’s, Canada. An additional stopover has therefore been added before St. John’s: Halifax, Canada.
“Although the days are still long around Iceland in mid-August, the low angle of the sun relative to the boat’s photovoltaic panels would compromise the optimal acquisition of solar radiation. These sunlight conditions and the bleak weather forecasts for the rest of the summer prevented us from being able to guarantee a precise arrival date, which poses a number of logistical problems with regard to the scientific team members’ rotation” says Gérard d’Aboville.
“The new navigation plan will enable us to concentrate more on the region of ocean eddies—large vortices that break off from the main part of the Gulf Stream. These phenomena influence heat exchanges with the atmosphere as well as the growth of phytoplankton where the powerful current leaves the east coast of the United States” says Professor Martin Beniston.
“This new itinerary is an opportunity for our research. In fact, our route will follow a series of zigzags that enter and exit the Gulf Stream while intercepting several ocean eddies. This is the area where we expect to find the most interesting scientific results” he says.
The solar catamaran is leaving Boston today, a stopover that was given a positive assessment by PlanetSolar and UNIGE thanks to the involvement of the public and of important institutions such as the Boston Children’s Museum, the Boston Science Museum, the MIT Energy Club, and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
The “PlanetSolar DeepWater” Scientific Expedition
Launched in Florida in early June, the “PlanetSolar DeepWater” expedition will strive to collect a continuous series of physical and biological measurements along the Gulf Stream, both in the water and in the air, using advanced instruments and the expertise of the UNIGE scientists. Led by Professor Martin Beniston, climatologist and director of the Institute of Environmental Science at UNIGE, the research team will study the key parameters of climate regulation, namely aerosols and phytoplankton, in order to better understand the complex interactions between the ocean and the atmosphere, as well as the role these interactions play in climate change.
Thoughts on this course alteration from PlanetSolar: The new navigation schedule will focus more on the exciting region of the ocean eddies, these large spinning vortices that break off from the main part of the Gulf Stream as it moves away from the eastern seaboard of the United States and south of Newfoundland. This sector is indeed where we expect to find some of the most interesting scientific results. By focusing more on the region of eddies than initially anticipated, we expect that the science will ultimately be much more fruitful!