Jean-Louis Etienne - Actualités
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Jean-Louis Etienne
Monday August 20 2012
POLAR POD project is on the rails

Technical design

Combining the research and experience of the U.S. FLIP with the "spars" of the offshore industry, naval architects Ship Studio have designed a very stableplatform, both horizontally when towed to the study area, and vertically when caught in a storm. The flipping by ballast protocol allows the crew to maneuver with troughs of 4 to 5 m. The frequency heave of 38 s is far from the surge of the "furious fifties" (22 s) which avoids entering into resonance with the swell. The POLAR POD is technically ready to fulfill its mission, which is to drift around the Antarctic along the Circumpolar Current.

Scientific program

Ensuring a continuous human presence in all seasons in the Southern Ocean is a challenge that the POLAR POD is able to meet. We receive numerous letters of interest in various fields of study, such as atmosphere-ocean exchange (CO2), acidification, acoustics, aerosols, study of currents, in situ validation of satellite measurements, biological inventories of the plankton and fauna (marine birds and mammals). The program promises to be very instructive.

Monday March 19 2012
POLAR POD, a new generation of oceanographic vessels

The second week of March, Marc Magaud, Environment and Sustainable Development Attaché at the French Embassy in Washington, arranged for me to meet with some major U.S. administrations leaders (NSF, NASA), as well as some influential foundations in the field of life sciences and the environment, and also with National Geographic Magazine. It was a very constructive week ; everybody, within their own area of expertise, expressed an interest in taking this unique opportunity, thanks to POLAR POD, of gathering data throughout the year on the Southern Ocean. This is a new maritime challenge since research vessels stay there only a few weeks in summer. 

During a meeting at the Polar Programs Department at the NSF, very interesting prospects for the POLAR POD were discussed. There is a need for remote stable platforms to provide electrical power to scientific sensors and broadband communications. The POLAR POD has the ability to launch, retrieve, and communicate with multiple autonomous remote vehicles (AUV, Drone, Gliders). In this context, it might be used as an offshore hub. It represents a new generation of oceanographic vessels, more economical and more environmentally friendly than traditional ones.

Monday April 27 2009
A new Polar expedition planned for 2010

A human and technological adventure to enhance our knowledge of the Earth’s climate and help safeguard it.

A balloon crossing of the Polar ice has still never been achieved. This will be the last act in my trilogy of solo North Pole expeditions. After reaching the Pole by pulling a dog sled for 63 days in 1986, and then drifting for four months on the sea ice in the Polar Observer in 2002, I am now preparing to undertake a balloon crossing in April 2010.

The balloon will be a Rozière type, supported by a combination of helium and hot air, like the Breitling Orbiter balloon used on their round-the-world flight by Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones. The nacelle will be specially designed for a Polar flight.

During the flight, I will be taking two types of continuous measurements: the level of CO2 in the atmosphere (for the CEA-CNRS Department of Climate & Environmental Sciences) and the Earth’s magnetic field (for the Institute of Globe Physics-LETI-CEA).

In embarking on this daring adventure, worthy of the novels of Jules Verne, I want to draw the world’s attention to: the shrinking of the Polar sea ice and its impact on the lifestyle of the native peoples of the North; the state of Arctic biodiversity; and the planet-wide climatic chaos that will ensue if the Polar ice disappears. The sea ice is the best indicator we have of the effectiveness of the measures that Man must take to curb global warming.

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