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PlanetSolar, World’s Largest Solar Boat, Reaches Nova Scotia

This article was originally published on 1Sun4All

Continuing on with their “PlanetSolar DeepWater” scientific expedition, the crew and scientific team aboard PlanetSolar, the world’s largest solar-powered boat, have reached Halifax, Nova Scotia. Even though this stop was added to the itinerary as a change in the schedule, and was meant to allow the scientific team to rotate and the crew to restock the ship, the public interest in the solar catamaran has created another new opportunity. Public events have been organized for the people of Halifax and local authorities. These gatherings will introduce this Swiss project’s innovative challenges and the quality of the research being done as a result of the “DeepWater” expedition to Canadians. Read more below on the latest news from PlanetSolar

PlanetSolar reaches the Canadian coast and lands in Halifax


Halifax Waterfront | PlanetSolar in Halifax, 18 July 2013 | ©All rights reserved PlanetSolar

After leaving Boston in the United States on July 4, the gigantic solar catamaran is continuing her “DeepWater” scientific expedition and reached Halifax, Canada on July 15. This 11-day sail, navigated in a zigzag in the Gulf Stream’s wake, enabled the 3 scientist team members from the University of Geneva (UNIGE) and one researcher from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution to observe and analyze the phenomenon of ocean eddies. This stopover in Nova Scotia, which represents the ship’s northernmost point thus far, will allow PlanetSolar to disseminate her positive message about the use of solar energy, and raise public awareness about climate change. The ship should remain moored at Waterfront Development until Tuesday, July 23.

During this navigation, the 3 scientist team mates from UNIGE and one researcher from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution focused their research on the phenomenon of ocean eddies—large vortices that affect heat exchanges with the atmosphere and phytoplankton growth.


PlanetSolar in Halifax, 18 July 2013 | ©All rights reserved PlanetSolar

We moved away from the North American coast by performing a series of zigzags across the Gulf Stream to allow the scientists to intercept these vortices,” explains Gérard d’Aboville, captain of the ship. This eddy hunt led to an extensive collection of data, both in the water and in the air. “In addition to the measurements taken in the ocean, we collected some interesting new data using instruments such as the Biobox, developed at UNIGE, which measure aerosols (micro-particles and droplets in the air) released by sea spray. We noticed a substantial increase in the number of aerosols as we got closer to Canada. This phenomenon is certainly due to the continental vegetation which is transported by wind heading toward the ocean, and therefore toward the solar ship. Subsequently, it could be interesting to analyze the interaction of “continental” aerosols and “oceanic” aerosols with atmospheric processes,” explains Professor Martin Beniston.


Canadian Sunset | PlanetSolar in Halifax, 18 July 2013 | ©All rights reserved PlanetSolar

Halifax, a Canadian stopover that has aroused enthusiasm

This stopover in Nova Scotia was added as a result of an itinerary adjustment to the “PlanetSolar DeepWater” scientific expedition. This stop was meant to allow for a rotation of scientist team mates and some technical maintenance, as well as a restocking of the ship. However, the enthusiasm that was generated by the world’s largest solar vessel’s arrival in Nova Scotia eventually prompted PlanetSolar to organize events for the public and local authorities. Hosted by the Waterfront Development, this stopover is therefore an opportunity to introduce this Swiss project’s innovative challenges to Canadians. The University of Geneva’s ‘DeepWater’ scientific expedition and the MS Tûranor PlanetSolar admirably showcase the spirit of Swiss innovation, as well as the quality of research at our institutions. Switzerland is proud to welcome PlanetSolar to Halifax, an ideal ambassador,” said Beat Kaser passionately, Consul General of Switzerland in Montreal. The ship should remain docked in Halifax until Tuesday, July 23, until heading in the direction of St. John’s, Canada.

The “PlanetSolar DeepWater” Scientific Expedition

Launched in Florida in early June, the “PlanetSolar DeepWater” expedition is striving 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 is studying 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.

More from the PlanetSolar Blog: Since we left Boston, the temperature near the surface water has increased from 10C north of the stream to 29C south of it (300km distance). Simultaneously, the color of the water switched from green to blue. We are following the Gulf Stream by “Zig-Zagging” from the cold side to the warm side looking also at the differences in chlorophyll content. These analyses help us to better understand the controlling factors for primary production (plankton bloom on which the marine ecosystem depends upon).

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