Float Your Boat - Arctic wooden boat experiment


INTAROS Coordinator, NERSC, has embarked on a new and exciting project to involve school children in mapping Arctic ice floes. The goal of the project is to engage school students (target 7-8th grade) in polar science.


The Arctic ice sheet is retreating due to global warming. It cracks more, which means that the wind gets a better grip on the ice floes and that the ice thus drifts faster. Researchers at the Nansen Center want to measure this (in addition to the main activity which is to measure sound in the ocean).


By placing a number of small wooden boats on an ice floe together with measuring buoys with GPS, we can track the ice floes and calculate how fast they drift as well as the direction and distance sailed. When the boats finally end up in the sea, and (hopefully) are picked up, we can estimate the average current speed. The flow pattern in the sub-Arctic areas needs better mapping. In July 2020, the coastguard ship KV Svalbard departed from Longyearbyen to carry out a research program in the Arctic and released these boats.


The boats, which were decorated by the school children , were given unique idenitifying codes  together with the mark 'WWW.FLOATBOAT.ORG', before being set adrift on the ice floe. 


Float Your Boat is a cooperation with a similar program in US initiated by D. Forcucci at the US Coast Guard. In 2020 students at three primary schools in Gjesdal municipality in SW Norway produced 130 boats that where decorated and individually branded. These were deployed during CAATEX cruise with K/V Svalbard.

Boats, buoys and data can be monitored at http://floatboat.nersc.no (in Norwegian). A film about the deployment of the boats is also available here, with an English version coming very soon.


The project is funded by the research Council of Norway (RCN) project no. 314384, with contribution from: the CAATEX project - Coordinated Arctic Acoustic Thermometry (RCN project no. 28053); INTAROS project– Integrated Arctic Observing System, funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement no. 727890); Digital Arctic Shipping, RCN – RCN project no. 309708.

12 October 2020