Our polar missions

Despite their problematic accessibility, the polar regions have always attracted explorers who opened the way to these inhospitable lands. Today, our scientists are following in their footsteps, examining the effects of global warming, the richness of the ecosystems, and evaluating the resources, some of which are widely exploited. Let's head for the Arctic and Antarctic!

What do you know about the poles? Only what researchers want you to know! It is indeed thanks to them that these regions have gradually emerged from the shadows since the beginning of the 20th century. Expeditions have succeeded one another since that time, always requiring robust logistical support and close coordination between scientists. It must be said that these distant lands are still almost exclusively accessible by boat! Their exploration is therefore closely linked to the activity of the oceanographic ships that ensure the rotation of experts and the provisioning of research bases. The result is breathtaking in terms of knowledge shared with the general public and specialists, which justifies the high cost. The Museum's scientists are part of the game. In the north, their domain is Greenland. In the south, they sail below the 40th parallel and explore the southern lands (sub-Antarctic islands) especially those under French jurisdiction:  (Crozet, Kerguelen) and the Antarctic continent itself (Terre Adélie and Concordia).

Base de Dumont d'Urville - Terre Adélie (Antarctique)

© MNHN / MSA / IPEV

Since 1979, the Museum's mission has included the preservation of fish resources in southern waters. As such, we provide quotas to fisheries and monitor their catches in these remote regions. In spite of the distance, trawlers take turns at a steady pace, at the risk of depleting hake and toothfish stocks. Through the POEPA programme (Programme d'Observation Écosystémique des Pêcheries australes (Southern Fisheries Ecosystem Observation Programme)), we assess the quantities fished, carry out scientific studies and projects, collect data and issue recommendations. Not to mention the regular monitoring of resources through the successive Poker 1, 2, 3 and 4 campaigns.

Still in Antarctica, since 2009 and during each southern summer (our winter), the REVOLTA team members have been exploring the exceptional fauna of the seabed in Terre Adélie. The aim? To understand the distribution of species and study their evolutionary history. To do this, they collect samples, film the seabed with an underwater robot, and dive to place measuring equipment... The specimens from these campaigns enrich the Museum's collections and are studied by researchers from all over the world. This adventure would not have taken place without the contribution of the Paul-Émile Victor Institute, which is responsible for French research in the polar regions. Although technologies are becoming more advanced, partnerships are still required for these far-flung explorations!

Visit the Antarctic expeditions website

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