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29/06/2021 News

Antarctique 2.0°C Expedition: An Interdisciplinary Study on Climate Change and Humankind’s Environmental Footprint

In September, six student researchers will embark on a six-month expedition from France to the Antarctic in pursuit of three goals: advance scientific research, create educational content and raise awareness in the scientific approach. The French Corporate Foundation, under the TotalEnergies Foundation Program, is one of the bold project’s first private-sector patrons.

Six students from France’s prestigious Ecole Normale Supérieure higher education establishments, accompanied by around 30 volunteers and supervised by some 15 laboratories in France and abroad, have taken on the challenge of organizing an expedition to the Antarctic to study climate change and the effect of human activity on local ecosystems. Their approach is original as it interconnects their respective disciplines: climatology, biogeochemistry of metals and public policy, microbiology, microplastics, penguin population biology, and sociology of science.

A sailing boat has been specially modified for this mission. A laboratory will also be set up in the coming weeks for the collection, storage and analysis of their samples.

The student researchers will sail along the coasts of Portugal, Cape Verde, Brazil, Patagonia and the Falklands, and spend two months on the Antarctic Peninsula. Here, two of them will carry out projects at a research station while the others will continue the sample collection process that they started in France. The crew’s motive is first and foremost scientific. All samples will be taken and analyses carried out in accordance with the proper protocols. Furthermore, by making a film and partnering with several museums, the young researchers aim to raise public awareness on the importance of protecting these threatened oceans, which play a key role in the fight against climate change and will be instrumental to adaptation efforts. Lastly, they hope to promote greater knowledge of science (approach, practices, jobs) among the younger generations. To this end, partnerships have been formed with teachers in elementary and high schools for creating educational content and organizing discussions between the crew and students during and after the expedition. These initiatives will cover all the subjects taught and potentially give rise to class or even school projects.

The French Corporate Foundation, under the TotalEnergies Foundation Program, enthusiastically supports the scientific program and the educational approach behind the expedition. “These student researchers’ expedition, which will increase the production of scientific knowledge on climate/ocean interactions and disseminate it widely among a young audience, is a perfect fit with the TotalEnergies Foundation public-interest program,” said Manoelle Lepoutre, Senior Vice President, Civil Society Engagement at TotalEnergies and Managing Director of TotalEnergies’ French corporate foundation.