Industry and Technology Minister Mehmet Fatih Kacır made an assessment about the work of the scientific delegation that carried out the Arctic Expedition, which lasted about 1 month.
Kacır stated that the research team consisting of foreign scientists participating in the expedition within the scope of TÜBİTAK, Naval Forces Command, General Directorate of Meteorology, Anadolu Agency, research institutes, universities and bilateral cooperation carried out scientific studies by making sampling and measurements at 28 stations, and said that these studies will shed light on the future of the world. He said he would show it.
Noting that the expedition team carried out scientific research for 14 different projects at sampling points in the Barents Sea, Kacır said:
“Our team has researched various subjects from the ecosystem in the Arctic Ocean to the condition of fish and sea creatures, from meteorological developments to pollution in the atmosphere. We have completed the expedition very successfully. Turkey will continue to be one of the leading countries in scientific research, as in many other fields. As the government, scientific research is of great importance. We are taking steps that will contribute to the world science literature. Both our Antarctic and Arctic expeditions are indicators of this understanding.”
“It is home to one third of the world’s hydrocarbon reserves”
Emphasizing that research on climate change and environmental pollution had an important place in the expedition, Kacır stated that the findings, including the determination of pollutants in the sea, microplastics, and the observation of sea glaciers, will contribute to those who do research in these areas.
Noting that studies were carried out at 28 different sampling points, Kacır said, “The poles have different meanings for our scientists both because they are the places where climate change is experienced most rapidly and because of the living things they contain. At the same time, the Arctic region is home to one third of the world’s hydrocarbon reserves. “The North Sea belt, which has begun to emerge, seems to be a candidate to become one of the new trade routes. We will also have the right to do research and have a say in a geography that has become such a strategic one,” he said.
Poles important in tackling climate change
Emphasizing that scientific research has revealed that the Arctic region is affected twice as much by the effects of global climate change, Kacır said, “Both the fact that these effects can be observed more clearly and that the two polar regions and the world are considered as a whole make this region valuable for scientific research. Considering that it is not limited to the regions of the world, it is important for all middle latitude countries, including Turkey, to produce data that will shed light on the future by conducting scientific research in these regions.
Kacır stated that within the scope of the expedition, studies were carried out on topics such as microplastics, biodiversity, air quality, marine pollution, renewable energy, maritime and oceanography.
Kacır explained that the analyzes of parameters such as heavy metals, nutrients and suspended solids in seawater samples taken from many points during the voyage will be carried out in TÜBİTAK MAM laboratories to investigate the levels of anthropogenic pollution in the environmentally affected Arctic region. He said that physical parameters of sea water such as pH level, conductivity, salinity were measured.
“Bacteria that live by breaking down microplastics are also being investigated”
Kacır stated that the diversity of bacteria that live by breaking down these substances on microplastics that pose a danger to the seas and oceans is among the subjects investigated within the scope of the expedition, and used the following words:
“The results to be obtained from bacteria adapted to cold climate conditions are aimed to contribute to the reduction of plastic pollution in the seas in future biotechnological studies. Phytoplankton and chlorophyll-a changes, which are important parameters in the observation of environmental impacts in the Barents Sea, were examined with the help of aerial photographs taken by UAV during the expedition. Data to be obtained by processing. “Existing satellite images covering large areas will be used in research. The data will be verified with terrestrial data measured within the scope of the expedition, and the spatial distribution of environmental impacts in the region will be revealed.”
Kacır stated that with the help of the “Automatic Meteorological Observation Station” installed on the ship on the voyage route, the parameters of wind speed, air temperature, humidity, pressure, global insolation and sea water temperature were measured and recorded.
Minister Kacır added that these records will contribute to the local observation of the effects of climate change by providing input to current climate models and remote sensing studies in the Arctic, where local data are available at low resolution.
Exploring the potential for use of solar energy
TUBITAK President Prof. Dr. Stating that the Naval Forces Command Department of Navigation, Hydrography and Oceanography carried out measurements of color, light refraction and visibility parameters on the sea, Hasan Mandal said, “As almost 95 percent of the seas and oceans, where most of the world’s transportation is carried out, are not mapped, the measurements made during the voyage are only satellite. It will not only test the consistency of the sourced bathymetry data, but also contribute to the production of new maps with remote sensing in this region where maritime traffic is rapidly increasing.”
Noting that within the scope of the expedition, the available open data on the follow-up of the legislation on offshore fishing in the Arctic Ocean were examined, Mandal said that observations were made on the subject by collecting expert opinions from the people engaged in fishing activities in the region.
Explaining that particulate matter measurements are carried out in the air with the continuous measurement systems installed on the ship to determine the level of air pollution on the voyage route, Mandal said, “Thanks to these measurements carried out every year, the effects of industrial and maritime transport activities in the region on the air quality will be revealed. UV radiation measured during the voyage. “Atmospheric factors affecting this parameter will be investigated periodically by comparing the changes in both polar regions with the data. In addition, the measurements made on the photovoltaic thermal collector will provide information about the potential for the use of solar energy as a renewable energy source in the polar regions and the equivalent carbon emission values.”
Stating that the adsorbent material produced within the scope of the project, which won the first place in the TEKNOFEST Turkey final among the “TÜBİTAK 2204-D High School Students Climate Change Research Projects”, was tested in the Arctic region during the expedition, Mandal stated that materials were collected in order to develop education and awareness activities about the poles in the region.
Researchers from 3 different countries participated
Noting that researchers from Brazil, Czechia and Norway also participated in the expedition, Mandal said:
“During the expedition, foreign researchers carried out studies on the genetic diversity of fish adapted to cold conditions in the Barents Sea, the effect of global climate change on the distribution and diversity of phytoplankton, the implementation of current maritime regulations in the polar regions and the determination of their deficiencies. In addition, within the scope of cooperation with the Italian Polar Research Institute, marine studies were carried out. water and phytoplankton samples were taken and delivered to the Dirigibile Arctic Research Station in Ny-Alesund. These collaborations added an international dimension to the expedition and contributed to our country’s work on science diplomacy. The fact that it continues to win, creates solid foundations for our country to gain the status of an observer country in the Arctic Council.”
TÜBİTAK President Mandal said that the first findings on the work of the researchers participating in the expedition will be shared with other scientists at the 7th National Polar Sciences Symposium to be held on 30 November-1 December.