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The program of monitoring greenhouse gases on the surface of the oceans launched in December 2017 in the Philippines in partnership with the University of Geneva has already identified several strong methane and carbon dioxide emission areas between Mactan and Singapore where the expedition arrived on 13 March 2018. There first preliminary results where presented to the media by Prof. Daniel McGinnis, Head of the Aquatic Physics Group at the University of Geneva and responsible of the program as part of The Ocean Mapping Expedition.

The ambition of The Winds of Change monitoring program for greenhouse gases on the surface of the oceans is to provide the scientific community with unprecedented and reference field data and therefore to contribute to a better understanding of the role of the oceans in the current global warming process. In view of the worrisome evolution of the climate and the resulting ocean acidification, it is becoming increasingly urgent to have baseline data available to revise our concepts on the global carbon cycle. And the least we can say is that it didn’t take long to get its first « exciting » results!

This pioneering program was launched in December 2017 in Mactan, Philippines, in partnership with the University of Geneva on board Swiss sailboat Fleur de Passion in the frame of The Ocean Mapping Expedition. It collected its first real time reference data on methane and carbon dioxide concentrations along the way down to Singapore, where the boat has arrived on 13 March 2018, coming from Puerto Galera, Brunei and Kuching. Through The Winds of Change program, some first « hot spots » were identified, areas with very strong emissions of greenhouse gases deserving as such a closer assessment. 

« The first two months of data received since The Winds of Change was launched in the Philippines are very promising, and revealed exciting findings and features », explains Prof. Daniel McGinnis, Head of the Aquatic Physics Group at the University of Geneva and responsible of the program in partnership with the expedition.

« Methane and carbon dioxide concentrations clearly rise near cities, approaching islands and shallow seas, in other words in areas that are influenced by human activities or experience higher algal growth », he says.

The program has already revealed several emission “hot spots” – areas that would warrant further investigation - e.g. methane was more than 6 times higher than background levels at Mactan where the boat was anchored during her stopover in December-January », adds Prof. McGinnis

« These exciting first results present a huge step forward in the project and the overall issue of global warming, and prove our approach as a very effective method to track atmospheric gases over the sea », he also adds.

To perform The Winds of Change program, 33m-long Fleur de Passion - a former WWII minesweeper from the German Navy now converted into a ketch - is equipped with a ultraportable greenhouse gas analyzer with a sampling port positioned 16 meters above the sea surface on the aft mast and automatically collects methane and carbone dioxide readings every 1 minute. The boat will hence fulfill her mission for the climate until the return of the expedition back to Seville in August 2019.

« The instrument has been functioning very well, and requires little attention and maintenance by the crew of Fleur de Passion », comments Prof. McGinnis. The scientist embarked in early March for the navigation from Kuching to Singapore in order to check the maintenance parameters of the program.

« We are very proud that The Winds of Change monitoring program for greenhouse gases on the surface of the oceans is producing its first field data, contributing therefore to also keep the global warming issue on the agenda, » says Samuel Gardaz, Vice-President for Public Affairs of the Fondation Pacifique, a non-profit organization based in Geneva and initiator of The Ocean Mapping Expedition.

« Such a pioneering program, as a pure initiative of civil society, once again illustrates the potential and interest of a sailboat like Fleur de Passion in terms of scientific research in addition to more conventional oceanographic vessels, » adds Gardaz.

« It provides the opportunity to access essential information at a very large geographical scale to complement that available by satellite so far at a time when the global scientific community is specifically alarmed by the lack of data on this issue », Prof McGinnis says.

As explained by the American scientist, « climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing our time and its understanding is a major challenge for the scientific community. In order to be able to effectively reverse the trend, scientists need to have a comprehensive and accurate view of the concentrations of greenhouse gases on the surface of the oceans and to be able to better understand their role not only as reservoirs of such gases, but also as emitters, of emission source. "

« But the oceans and fresh water as a whole emit more greenhouse gases than previously estimated, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), » Prof McGinnis insists. It is therefore urgent to re-evaluate the role of the oceans in the global carbon cycle for a better understanding of global warming issues. »

« A pioneering project such as The Winds of Change aboard the Fleur de Passion sailboat is therefore a necessity to collect in real time and continuously along the way, field data that we lack on greenhouse gases. and to allow science to take a step forward in understanding the role of the oceans in the current global warming process, » he concludes.

The Ocean Mapping Expedition left the Philippines for good in February 2018 and while Fleur de Passion is sailing down South-West from Brunei towards Singapore along the North coast of Borneo, it’s high time to share at last some of the drawings made by the latest to date of the eleven illustrators who took part so far in the cultural program of the expedition, « In the mirror of Magellan ». Namely: Maurane Mazars, a representative of the young avant-garde cartoonists « made in Geneva » (although she’s French), laureate in 2015 of the « Prix pour la Jeune Bande Dessinée du Canton de Genève » among other prizes.

Maurane embarked in Mactan the very last day of December 2017 and spent two weeks on board while Fleur de Passion went sailing around in the Visayas, the central region of the Philippines. South towards Dumaguette then East towards Leyte and above all Limasawa, a tiny islet where Magellan landed for the first time in the Philippines in March 1521 after his crossing of the Pacific Ocean - and where he « incidentally » celebrated his first mass in the country…

Visit Maurane’s website: http://www.mauranemazars.com

The Geneva-based Fondation Pacifique invites the local and international media in Singapore to a press conference on 14 March 2018 at 10am at the Republic of Singapore Yacht Club on the occasion of the arrival in Singapore of the 33m-long ketch Fleur de Passion as part of The Ocean Mapping Expedition.

This unique 4-year journey (2015-2019) around the world from Seville to Seville combines science, education and culture to map the human impact on the oceans and raise awareness about sustainable development issues in the wake of Magellan, she 500 years after the first ever circumnavigation.

Coming from Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines, the 33m-long and tallest sailboat under Swiss flag Fleur de Passion (« Flower of Passion »), a former WWII German minesweeper turned into a sailing boat, will stop in Singapore from 13 to 25 March 2018 before heading further towards Jakarta, Madagascar, Mozambique and South Africa where she is expected to arrive in Durban then Cape Town by the end of the year.

On this occasion, initial results of the newly launched and pioneering Winds of Change scientific program consisting in monitoring greenhouse gases on the surface of the oceans in order to better understand their role in the issue of global warming will be released. Additional results from the 20,000 sounds under the seas program on noise pollution carried out since the departure of the expedition will also be shared. With the support of the Embassy of Switzerland in Singapore and James Cook University, the stopover of Fleur de Passion at the Republic of Singapore Yacht Club will also include public events and outreach activities echoing the goals of the expedition.

The press conference will be held in the presence of:

  • Pietro Godenzi (Switzerland), President and skipper, Fondation Pacifique

  • Samuel Gardaz (Switzerland), Vice-President for corporate affairs, Fondation Pacifique

  • Dr Daniel McGinnis (United States), Department of Aquatic Physics, University of Geneva, partner of the expedition and responsible for The Winds of Change program

  • Dr Michel André (France, Spain), Director of the Laboratory of Bioacoustic Applications, Technical University of Catalonia, Barcelona, and partner of the expedition and responsible for the 20,000 sounds under the seas program

  • Dr Dale Anderson (Australia), Deputy Vice Chancellor and Head of Campus, Singapore, James Cook University

The press conference will be followed by a visit and lunch on board Fleur de Passion.

VENUE:     Republic of Singapore Yacht Club, 52 West Coast Ferry Road

TIME:         10am

RSVP:        by Friday 9 March 2018 to Samuel Gardaz, vice-president for Public Affairs

CONTACT: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / +41 76 563 65 43 or +65 8573 1197 (from 11 March 2018)

In August 2017 in the Salomon islands then in Papua-New Guinea and Indonesia, embark on Fleur de Passion and dive on some of the most stunning underwater spots in the world. Under the supervision of a dive master and the crew of the expedition, get involved in the CoralWatch citizen science program on the state of the health of the corals. And contribute to rising awareness about the challenges reefs are facing due to global warming.

Fleur de Passion is an offshore sailboat. This is why dives should be considered as exploratory dives in an unknown environment with related constraints.

Organization :

  1. Dives are organized under the supervision of a diving instructor in charge of organization and safety.

  2. Divers must bring their own equipment (fins, mask, snorkel, diving suit, regulator and stabilizing jacket) as well as their own parachute.

  3. The boat supplies the tanks and the weights.

  4. A fee of CHF 30.- per dive is charged in addition to the daily CHF 120.- for accommodation on board.

Conditions of dives:

  1. Dives are subject to weather and safety conditions and submitted to the skipper's approval.

  2. Each diver must be in possession of his/her dive certificate and diary and a medical certificate dated less than one year.

  3. Dives are carried out within the limits of the safety curve.

  4. The dinghy can take 4 people to the site.

  5. Diving from the Fleur de Passion is possible but the diver must be able to climb a 2m ladder in a potentially formed sea.

Note : 

No night dives are permitted during shipment.

For more info on the schedule and availabilities, have a look on http://omexpedition.ch/index.php/en/embark

A Swiss sailboat on Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Switzerland and Australia, two countries situated poles apart, combining their efforts and their vision of the environmental challenges to work together through their respective civil society for the good of an endangered world heritage. This is «the adventure within the adventure» that will begin on 28 March 2017 in Brisbane when 33-metre ketch Fleur de Passion, the largest sailboat flying the Swiss flag, will put to sea from the capital of Queensland and head north towards this environment existing on borrowed time as part of The Ocean Mapping Expedition. After presenting the CoralWatch project in a previous news, let’s introduce you to the second of the two programs developed with local partners that will start soon.

This new programme, lasting a month from April to May, will be conducted in partnership with the University of Queensland over a specific area of four hundred kilometres between Townsville and Cooktown. Under the leadership of Dr. Chris Roelfsema of the Remote Sensing Research Centre (RSRC), several teams of volunteers will be coming on board successively to map the coral reefs as part of a larger joint project which, besides the University of Queensland, encompasses several other Australian research institutions, namely the Australian Institute for Marine Science (AIMS), the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), James Cook University and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA).

«No comprehensive map of all the vast and diverse habitats on the whole Great Barrier Reef currently exists describing geomorphic zonation (e.g. slope, flat, crest) or benthic community composition (e.g. coral, algae, sand)», explains Dr Chris Roelfsema. «These maps would provide valuable information for monitoring and management to support current bleaching surveys, the Crown of Thorns Starfish Eradication Program, marine park zonation design and day-to-day management of the GBR. These types of map have not been produced due to lack of resources and suitable approaches for mapping the 3,000 extensive and mostly submerged shallow reefs of the GBR».

He adds: «Currently, the Remote Sensing Research Centre at the University of Queensland (UQ) is leading efforts, with funding from the GBR Foundation, to create these comprehensive maps through combination of field and satellite image data, and ecological modelling and mapping. A pilot study was used to test the approach in the Capricorn Bunker group during 2016, and methods have now been adapted for application on the 200 reefs in the Cairns to Cooktown Management Region (CCMR). The approaches applied will be the first of their kind to be used over such a large area for so many reefs, and will result not only in benthic and geomorphic maps but also produce detailed water depth and wave climatology data for each shallow reef of the GBR».

For Chris Roelfsema, «Fleur de Passion's journey along the GBR comes at the right time as it provides a unique opportunity to collect additional field data for 15-20 reefs to validate the mapping of the 200 reefs in the CCMR area. Validation data will include georeferenced photo transect surveys, Reef Health and Impact Surveys and Coral Health Chart surveys. This collaboration between the Swiss vessel and RSRC-UQ with the support of the Embassy of Switzerland in Australia is a clear message that there is international interest in conserving the biggest reef globally», he says.

As Australia's lead management agency for the Reef (the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority) recently confirmed, «we’re seeing mass coral bleaching on our Reef for the second consecutive year – part of a global event affecting the world’s coral reefs», says Great Barrier Reef Foundation Managing Director Anna Marsden.

«This Ocean Mapping Expedition is a wonderful opportunity for the research team to contribute meaningful information to reef managers, helping them gain a more comprehensive picture of how our Reef is faring – not an easy task given the Great Barrier Reef’s immense size spanning more than 2,300 kilometres along the east coast of Australia», she adds.

«The Foundation aims to catalyse solutions to some of the most complex and challenging problems facing the Reef. This project will fill a critical gap by helping to create a comprehensive map of the vast and diverse habitats of the Great Barrier Reef», says Anna Mardsen.

These two programmes specific to the Great Barrier Reef - with the RSRC-UQ and CoralWatch - come in addition to the two others in progress since the start of the expedition on 13 April 2015, and which will also be continued: 20,000 Sounds under the Seas, relating to noise pollution in the oceans, in partnership with the Applied Bioacoustics Laboratory (LAB) of the Polytechnic University of Catalonia in Barcelona, and Micromégas, on micro-plastic pollution, in partnership with the Oceaneye Association in Geneva.

To learn more about the RSRC: https://www.rsrc.org.au/