Photo credits : oceaneye
- manta trawl and microplastic samples
passive igloo - a sailboat dedicated to science
The passive igloo offers accomodation to master
students, doctoral students and researchers motivated by an
interest and passion towards research in the Arctic regions,
whether sailing in the summer during escorts or during Arctic
winters during which the vessel is stationary in the ice.
Several scientific partners are enroled : Météo-France,
Oceaneye, University of Brest, University Savoie Mont Blanc,
INRA and University of Geneva. Topics of study cover weather,
climate, biodiversity and pollution of the oceans. The passive
igloo is also involved in Isaaffik, a new gateway connecting
Arctic research, education, consultancy and logistics.
Scientific agenda 2015/16
The passive igloo participates in different scientific collaborations.
This page is intended to serve as a platform for information
on planned or ongoing activities. For more information, please
get in touch.
In order to improve the quantity and quality of atmospheric
data collected from across the globe, scientists seek
to maximize the number of measurements, especially
at sea. These data include improving weather forecasts
and safety at sea.
Deployment of SVP drifeter buoys, Nanuq Greenland
2015 (photos Alain Berthoud)
"SVP drifter data buoys" collect and transmit
data via satellite:
The goal is to deploy additional drifting weather
buoys on different areas during the trip. In parallel,
the boat will be equipped with an integrated weather
station that will provide a complete data set at each
full hour via Iridium SBD. These data can be viewed
in near real time.
Chart : air pressure observations
over the sea surface in November 2013, red dots =
drifting buoys, source EUMETNET
Web : http://www.eumetnet.eu
Carte : modèle
de prédiction numérique de concentration
de débris plastiques flottants. Source: Maximenko
et al. (2012)
Five huge waste zones about the size of a country
float on the ocean surface. They are called the seventh
continents or waste patches, accumulation areas. They
are mainly composed of small plastic debris from fragmentation
of waste. The cause of their existence is human pollution
that is transported by ocean currents. This phenomena
is now no longer a hypothesis but a scientific certainty.
The objective is to determine the quantity of plastic
contained in the sea water along the voyage.
Web : http://www.oceaneye.eu
University of Brest
Niskin bottle and work in progress on board, Nanuq Greenland
2015 (photos Sylvie Margot)
a) Diversity of microorganisms:
The structure, function and biodiversity of Arctic
marine ecosystems are influenced by several key factors
and are very well adapted to the extreme conditions
of their environment. However, impacts of climate change
on Arctic ecosystems are expected to be very strong
and more rapid than any other biome on earth. As phytoplankton
is the basis of many food webs, it is absolutely crucial
to study their spatial distribution and diversity. Moreover,
there are concerns that the nature of algae blooms in
the Arctic could be modified, especially due to the
sea- ice retreat, or ocean acidification. It is proposed
to investigate phytoplanktonic diversity by sampling
regularly along the cruise line, with an emphasis around
the coast of Greenland.
b) Macronutrients (nitrates, phosphates and
In the Arctic, important shifts in nutrient availability
took place in recent years. As a result, significant
changes in primary production of Arctic Ocean waters
occurred. As complementary measurements to microorganisms
diversity, nutrient distribution will be investigated
along Nanuq voyage, with a focus on total dissolved
inorganic nitrogen, phosphorus and silicon.
c) Trace Elements
Phytoplankton growth requires carbon, light and macronutrients).
In addition, trace elements play a key role : some are
essential for living organisms (e.g Fe, Mn , Cu, Ni
, Zn , Co), while others are toxic (eg Pb and Hg). The
structure, function and biodiversity of marine Arctic
ecosystems may be affected by any bioavailability variation
of these trace elements. Their distribution is tightly
linked to the variation of their inputs, such as sea-ice
or melting glaciers.
The goal is to quantify some trace elements (total
dissolved mercury and particulate Fe, Mn, Al) in different
areas along the voyage, with an emphasis around Greenland
Web : http://www-iuem.univ-brest.fr
University Savoie Mont-Blanc
Laboratoire Chimie Moléculaire et Environnement
S etup of passive absorbers (water - left; air - right),
Nanuq Iceland 2015 (photos Alain Berthoud)
a) PCBs in water
b) PCBs and PAHs in air
Web : http://www.lcme.univ-savoie.fr
University of Geneva
The measurements we propose to conduct intended to
analyze the different components of the solar radiation
balance, thermal infrared, heat flux through the ice,
and the fluxes of sensible and latent heat at the interface
between the surface and the lower layers of the atmosphere.
The instruments used are:
- a radiometer covering the solar spectrum and thermal
- one (or two) solarimeter(s) for the radiation part
- a flux-meter for the heat flow in the surface
- a sonic anemometer
- thermometer and hydrometer for turbulent atmospheric
- Analyze local heat transfer in a polar environment
- Establish a heat balance of each of the fluxes to
better understand the polar climate on the ice; also,
if possible, improve the calculation of turbulent
Web : http://www.unige.ch
The passive igloo project
The 'passive igloo' is
the cabin of a 60' polar expedition sailboat. The design
is inspired by concepts and techniques used in low-energy
high performance buildings.
The aim is to pass through an arctic winter in a self-sufficient
way and without the use of non-renewable energy in order
to explore how simple and robust constructive and technical
solutions may to challenge low-cost energy scarcity
in a credible way. Transposed to temperate climates,
the experience feedback will be useful to outline the
habitat of tomorrow.
The real passive igloo - end of winter, Nanuq Greenland
2016 (photo Peter Gallinelli)
- indoor air temperature: living area (floor, ambient,
ceiling), cabins, buffer zone
- inner and outer surface temperatures and heat flux
trough the thermal envelope of the igloo
- indoor air quality : relative humidity and CO2
- air change rate
- energy produced, consumed
- occupancy rate, activities
- external environment: temperature, relative humidity,
solar radiation, wind speed
Scientific purpose : to observe and describe the comfort/energy
ratio, document comfort and hygrothermal operation and
establish a detailed energy balance.
Web (internal links) :
Your project interests
us - our project interests you
Welcome on board! Designed and built to cope with the most
difficult navigation and climate conditions, the boat offers
a place to live and work for a crew of 6 in complete self-sufficiency
for up to 2 years.
During the arctic summer and during
the travel from Europe to the winter camp and back,
samples will be taken and measurements be carried out.
The route will be adapted to specific needs.
During the long lasting winter months,
the boat serves as a stationary base-camp, moored
in a sheltered place in the northern arctic Canada.
During that period, monitoring of atmosphere, ocean
water and sea ice, as well as on land and glaciers,
will be carried out.
Using wind for propulsion, but also to provide energy for
life on board especially during long stays in cold climates,
the passive igloo is a means of transport and a place to live
and work with low environmental impact. It lends itself ideally
as a base camp for observation and environmental monitoring
projects in the most remote and inaccessible areas.
crew consists of two experienced sailors who handle navigation,
boat and global logistics. The extra carrying capacity is
8 (10) people in summer, 4 (6) in winter.
In addition to the crew and common equipent, the boat can
carry a payload of 1-2 metric tons of scientific equipment
for a volume of several cubic meters. Depending on requirements,
the large multi-purpose cabin can be converted into an extra
laboratory. A large rear deck at the water's edge with attached
garage greatly facilitates the implementation of ocean measurement
equipment. Electric power is available to operate scientific
equipment. Due to the use of renewable and clean energy, the
immediate environment remains completely clean and unpolluted
which is an important feature for environmental monitoring.
amenities are available such as: sleds, kayaks, dinghy. Divers
also can be arranged for on request. Drill and ice saws facilitate
access to water under the ice. Repatriation of of samples
is possible every 15 days, during stopovers. In addition,
a monitoring system and a weather station are available board.
Routine measurements include:
- temperature and relative humidity of air
- surface water temperature
- solar radiation (horizontal, global)
- wind speed and direction (sonic anemometer)
The aim is to provide useful data for analysis of energy
performance of the passive igloo. This is an integral part
of the project (read more...). These
data are also useful in the context of EUMETSAT and for the
documentation of sampling conditions in different collaborations.
All data are georeferenced (GPS). A datalogger (CR1000) is
used for the acquisition, processing and storage. The programming
of the station (measurement protocol) can be adapted to the
application. A drone is scheduled for aerial photography and
airborne measurements (contact us).
Gillet : contact...
Arctic Gateway: Isaaffik
Isaaffik is a new web platform and gateway connecting Arctic
research, education, consultancy and logistics. The 'passive
igloo' is proud to be associated with arctic research by offering
logistics opportunities to international research teams.
Web : http://www.isaaffik.org