Please select your home edition
Edition
Cyclops Marine 2023 November - 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

Bernardo Freitas to skipper Racing for the Planet
In the Mirpuri Foundation Sailing Trophy 2024 The Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team announces that former team watch captain Bernardo Freitas (POR) will lead the Team in the 2024 edition of The Mirpuri Foundation Sailing Trophy, in July. Posted on 9 May
The Mirpuri Foundation Sailing Trophy preview
A sustainable regatta that will see sailing boats take to the Atlantic coast of Portugal Organised in partnership with the Clube Naval de Cascais, the sustainable regatta will see a large number of sailing boats take to the Atlantic coast of Portugal, to raise awareness and important funds for marine conservation programs. Posted on 24 Apr
The Ocean Race will return to Genova
A key stopover for The Ocean Race Europe in 2025 The Italian city of Genova and The Ocean Race will extend their close relationship with The Ocean Race Europe bringing a fleet of foiling IMOCA race boats to the Mediterranean port in the late summer of 2025. Posted on 24 Apr
The Ocean Race joins world leaders in Athens
Nature's Baton and the Relay4Nature connect at Our Ocean Conference The Ocean Race joined world leaders at the Our Ocean Conference 2024 at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC) in Athens, Greece on Tuesday, who had gathered to advance measures to protect and restore ocean health. Posted on 17 Apr
The Ocean Race sails into Athens
For the Our Ocean Conference UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for the Ocean hands Nature's Baton to Greece's Prime Minister's Special Envoy for Oceans and Coordinator of the conference. Posted on 15 Apr
The Ocean Race and IOC UNESCO collaborate
Contributing towards the science we need for the ocean we want In the lead up to the 2024 Ocean Decade Conference, The Ocean Race today shared the impact of the data collected by teams and sailors through the race's science on board programme. Posted on 9 Apr
The Ocean Race gathers critical polar ocean data
From Antarctica and the Northwest Passage The Ocean Race is providing critical data to international scientists studying the impact of climate change and plastic pollution on ocean health. Posted on 8 Apr
The Ocean Race Europe 2025 will start from Kiel
Aim is to combine this event with the topic of ocean health and protection Organisers of The Ocean Race have confirmed Kiel.Sailing.City as the host of the start of The Ocean Race Europe during a press conference in Kiel on Wednesday morning. Posted on 14 Feb
The Ocean Race ends an epic 2023 on a high note
An incredible race year comes to a close An incredible race year comes to a close with the Notice of Race released for The Ocean Race Europe in 2025 and The Ocean Race 2026-27 along with comprehensive reports on the 2023 event... Posted on 21 Dec 2023
The Ocean Race wins the Sustainability Award
In the International Sports Awards 2023 The Ocean Race, the toughest and longest test of a team in sport, has taken the top prize in the Sustainability category of the 2023 International Sports Awards, hosted by the International Sports Convention. Posted on 7 Dec 2023
MySail SkipperRooster Women's Wetsuit RangeHenri-Lloyd - For the Obsessed