French expedition aims to advance understanding of what lies beneath the Arctic ice

The Under the Pole III expedition aims to improve our understanding of this murky and inaccessible ecosystem. Images courtesy of expedition sponsor The Bordier Group.

The warming of the Arctic Ocean and the retreat of the ice cover at the North Pole is presenting new opportunities for exploration, to improve our understanding of what lives underneath the ice.

A French expedition called Under the Pole III is said to be using innovative diving technologies to peer into this mysterious ecosystem. Leading the expedition are two experienced divers and explorers, Ghislain Bardout and Emmanuelle Périé-Bardout. The expedition includes an interdisciplinary team of more than 100 experts, including divers, sailors, scientists, mechanics, engineers, photographers, cameramen and doctors.

The exploration is focusing on the so-called Twilight Zone – sea beds situated between 50 and 150 metres below the surface level – and about which relatively little is known.

The expedition began in the Arctic in May 2017. Images courtesy of expedition sponsor The Bordier Group.

Having started in the Arctic Ocean in May 2017, the three-year mission will also move to the Antarctic – via the Pacific Ocean – and finally to the Atlantic Ocean.

Geneva-based banking group The Bordier Group is sponsoring Under the Pole III, and has kindly provided a few images from expedition’s journey in the Arctic, which you can see here.

Among the topics the expedition has set out to explore is the bioluminescence and fluorescence of marine species. One of the scientists involved in the expedition, Marcel Koken from the National Center for Scientific Research in France, said scientists have recently shown there is bioluminescence in the Arctic, under the ice and deep beneath the sea’s surface. But very little is known about it.

The expedition also aims to test new diving innovations, including a small “living capsule” or underwater shelter that will allow divers more time to rest during a dive and conduct scientific investigations.

Jamie MacLeod, Chief Executive Officer, Bordier UK said: “Under The Pole won us over from the outset, just as we as a Group were seeking to invest in sustainability. This latest commitment reflects the values of our Group – responsibility, commitment and transmission to current and future generations.” The group’s Grégoire Bordier said: “The purpose of our commitment is to improve scientific knowledge and to raise public awareness of the importance and beauty, but also the vulnerability, of our ecosystems, whilst ensuring this knowledge is shared.”

Images courtesy of expedition sponsor The Bordier Group.

You can read more about Under the Pole III and follow the expedition’s progress here.