Please select your home edition
Edition
Gul 2020 LEADERBOARD

Volvo Ocean Race: Race data revealed at expert conference

by Volvo Ocean Race 22 Nov 2018 22:33 PST
Scientist Soren Gutenkunst presenting microplastics data at MICRO2018 conference © Soren Gutenkunst

Unique information on the global concentration of microplastics pollution in our oceans has been presented at an international science conference in Lanzarote.

The information was collected from seawater samples taken during the Volvo Ocean Race, which, for the first time, combined a global sporting event with cutting-edge scientific research.

The science initiative, part of the race's Sustainability Programme, was presented at the MICRO2018 conference, which heard about leading research related to microplastic pollution.

The high-level audience heard how 86 samples were taken by boats Turn the Tide on Plastic and Team AkzoNobel. Scientists found that 93% of those analysed contained levels of microplastics.

The results of the programme will contribute to increased understanding of the global marine presence of microplastics and help provide a template for future data collection. Currently there is very little information on microplastic distribution in our seas.

Anne-Cécile Turner, Sustainability Programme Leader for the Volvo Ocean Race, said: "The objective of the science element of the sustainability programme was to further our understanding of the extent to which microplastic pollution has now touched our remotest oceans; places that were previously considered to be pristine natural environments.

?"By speaking at such events we are able to promote this vital information which will help fill the large gaps in our knowledge of the microplastic dispersal. Our aim is that this research will then contribute to the international standardisation of ocean microplastic research."

The presentation, Distribution of microplastics in the mixed layer: results from the Volvo Ocean Race, was given by race scientist Dr. Sören Gutekunst of GEOMAR Institute for Ocean Research Kiel, Germany, funded by the Cluster of Excellence Future Ocean.

Dr. Gutekunst said: "The MICRO2018 conference has shown that microplastics is a significant subject about which are still trying to understand the global impact. It has given the scientific community a platform to talk, share and gain knowledge on future solutions and the data, collected during the race, is helping us on this journey."

The samples, collected in small mesh filters when the crews used the on-board water maker, were analysed at a laboratory in Kiel, Germany, using a powerful Raman spectrophotometer.

Microplastic concentrations did tend to be elevated within major ocean currents bringing in plastic pollution from a larger area.??The highest levels, 349 particles per cubic metre, were found in a sample taken in the South China Sea that feeds into the North Pacific Gyre. The second highest, 307 particles per cubic metre, were recorded northwest of the Strait of Gibraltar, where the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean meet.

Even close to Point Nemo, the furthest place from land on Earth, where the nearest humans are on the International Space Station, between nine and 26 particles of microplastic per cubic metre were recorded.

Scientists will be able to access the data open-source from a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) database where accompanying meteorological and oceanographic data have also been uploaded.

Todd McGuire, Program Director of 11th Hour Racing, the Sustainability Programme's Founding Principal Partner, said: "It's very exciting to see the impact that the Volvo Ocean Race Science Program is having at a global scale. The data collected by the teams during the race highlights the magnitude of the ocean plastic crisis and the extent of our footprint. With greater knowledge comes a greater sense of responsibility, and this iconic sporting event has become an active part of the solution - not only by providing important data, but also by amplifying the message and rallying wide audiences to take positive action."

Volvo Ocean Race Science Programme was funded by Volvo Cars, who have donated €100 from first 3,000 sales of the new Volvo V90 Cross Country Volvo Ocean Race edition to support the initiative.

Stuart Templar, Head of Sustainability at Volvo Cars, said: "Volvo Cars is proud to have funded the Science Programme, which has produced an unprecedented picture of the health of our oceans. In particular, this clearly shows the extent of the global problem of micro-plastic pollution.

"Decisive action needs to be taken, including by business. That is why Volvo Cars has made a number of pledges during the Race, including removing single use plastic by the end of 2019 and ensuring that at least 25% of the plastic in new Volvos is made from recycled material by 2025."

Paulo Mirpuri, President of the Mirpuri Foundation, said: "As the Principal Sustainability Partner of the Volvo Ocean Race, we were very proud to be part of this ground breaking research that is now being presented all over the world and raising awareness of the ocean plastic pollution.

"This science initiative is leading by example and showing the world how little information we have on our oceans and how important it is to keep researching and taking action to protect our planet."

The boats also collected other oceanographic data measurements including temperature, dissolved CO2, salinity, algae content (as chlorophyll a) that give an indication of levels of ocean health and acidification and support quantification of the ocean's uptake of CO2. In parallel, 30 scientific drifter buoys, deployed during the race, are transmitting data that is essential for forecasting of weather and climate changes, in both the short and long term. This is being utilised by the World Meteorological Organisation and UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission.

A copy of the Science Programme report is available here.

Related Articles

2020 Mirpuri Foundation Sailing Trophy overall
Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team wins the 2020 Sailing Trophy The inaugural Mirpuri Foundation Sailing Trophy has come to a close, with The Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team's 'Racing for the Planet' crew taking line honours in both legs this weekend. Posted on 29 Jun
Mirpuri Foundation Sailing Trophy begins
The event is being held to raise awareness and important funds The Mirpuri Foundation Sailing Trophy has begun in light wind conditions, as competitors across three classes race two legs between Cascais and Sesimbra hoping to take home the prize pool of over €30,000. Posted on 27 Jun
Extreme Drone Catches
Here are the bits we didn't show you... You've seen our incredible drone footage from the remotest and wildest oceans, but here are the bits we didn't show you... Posted on 20 Jun
VO65 entry and star-studded line-up
50+ boats confirmed for inaugural Mirpuri Foundation Sailing Trophy The inaugural Mirpuri Foundation Sailing Trophy is set to thrill sailing fans as two VO65 entries are confirmed to join a fleet of over 50 competing boats that will line up on June 27 for the start of a two-leg race to win a share of a €30,000 prize pool. Posted on 19 Jun
VO65 entry and star-studded line-up
Charles Caudrelier will take part in the Mirpuri Foundation Sailing Trophy The Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team has announced the official entry of its VO65 'Racing for the Planet' boat in next week's inaugural Mirpuri Foundation Sailing Trophy, crewed by a star-studded team. Posted on 17 Jun
The Ocean Race and IUCN join forces
Working together to organise impactful sports events and global activities The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has established a unique collaboration with The Ocean Race to work together to organise impactful sports events and global activities that will amplify awareness towards sustainability. Posted on 8 Jun
The Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 Official Film
A race which will be remembered for the brutal conditions The 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race is remembered for brutal conditions which dismasted or otherwise damaged large portions of the six boat fleet from the start, with half the boats retiring on Leg 1 from Alicante to Cape Town. Posted on 30 May
The time to focus on the Ocean is now
Leading voices come together for The Ocean Race Summits #2 Leading voices come together for The Ocean Race Summits #2 - online - to say the solutions are there for meaningful change. Now is the time to make it happen. Posted on 28 May
Happy Hour with Stretch & Stirfry - Abby Ehler
The boys chat with the three time Volvo Ocean Race veteran This week we talk to Abby Ehler. Three time Volvo Ocean Race veteran, a truly respected race boat captain and the driving force behind The Magenta Project, a fabulous initiative that develops opportunities for women in performance sailing. Posted on 25 May
RORC Time Over Distance - Sam Davies
Skipper of Team SCA in the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race Sam Davies' first big adventure was as part of Tracy Edwards crew for the 1998 Jules Verne Record attempt. Ahead of the record, the catamaran Royal Sun Alliance was dismasted in the Southern Ocean. Posted on 24 May
Cyclops Marine 2020 - FOOTERHenri-Lloyd 2020 FOOTERGul 2020 FOOTER