Arctic scientific research projects to receive bigger financial support

The Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFFI) will organize a special competition for grants among Arctic research projects, where the financing may be increased by 20% this year, the Foundation’s press service told TASS.

“The forecast is that in 2018 funding of Arctic research will grow by 20%,” the press service said.

Professor of the Earth Sciences, head of the Foundation’s department on competitions, Vladimir Zhmur, told TASS in the previous year scientists received grants for projects in his section worth about 100 million rubles ($1.7 million) for the Arctic research.

“Most Arctic research projects are in sectors of the Earth Sciences and Biology,” he continued. “Among the scientific projects, which the foundation has supported are studies of the northern seas east from Novaya Zemlya onboard vessels of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Scientists take measure of streams, temperatures, salt in the water and borders of ice areas.”

Ecology and global warming

“We hope that over coming three years the researchers will several times go onboard the vessel along the Northern Sea Route and will collect the data to foresee natural cycles in the Arctic marine zone. And after 2021, all those results would be used for an adequate hydro-physical model of the Northern Sea Route’s area, which, in its turn, later on, would be used for navigation purposes,” the professor said.

The Arctic’s marine development requires a network of year-round ports, and their stability depends on the permafrost’s conditions, he explained. “One of the problems in organization of the Northern Sea Route is a lack of permanent, stable ports, with the exception, probably, for Sabetta. Under the global warming conditions the permafrost is thawing, thus threatening all buildings and port facilities. Those processes should be watched, and this is what several scientific organizations have been doing with support from RFFI,” he said.

Another problem from the global warming is the thawing ice, the professor said. “This process in the Arctic continues unevenly – with every year, on our side the ice is moving northwards, while on the other side, near Canada, nothing similar happens. This is a paradox, which is to be solved. We are financing the research, which will explain the reasons,” he said.

Another big ecology problem in the Arctic is potential accidents in hydrocarbons’ production. “It is a huge threat for the biological persity. As of now, according to the available information, everything is fine. But scientists continue studying biology species so that we could control the populations there,” the expert said.

Communication in the Arctic

According to the expert, the Arctic’s future is related directly with development of reliable communication systems. “The country’s Polar and Arctic territories remain overcast, and the clouds there hide data from satellites. The Arctic atmosphere’s upper layers suffer additionally electromagnetic processes, which cause bugs in GPS or GLONASS, thus the northern latitudes need additional systems of communication and positioning. Such systems exist in the world, but we do not have any, and thus our scientists face the task of making own product of the kind,” the scientist said.

A modern alternative to GLONASS in the Arctic could be a magnet-field navigation system. Scientists should “draw” a new map of the Russian magnet field in order to build an positioning system which would not depend on radio signals. Activities in the Arctic zone would require new software to compress huge video data for their quick transfer to users.

“In future, when we have a navigation system and control the Northern Sea Route via satellites and video, we shall receive big amounts of information. The question comes: how to transmit the information. The scientists have been working on new formats of packing information. A new software may appear in 2018 already,” the professor said in conclusion.

Russian Foundation for Basic Research

The Russian Foundation for Basic Research offers financial support to Russian scientists. The foundation pays special attention to research in natural sciences. Grant recipients have to pass many stages of competition. The foundation’s head is Academician Vladislav Panchenko.

In 2017, the Foundation’s budget was 11.5 billion rubles ($200 million). The budget in 2018 is practically twice bigger.