What we do in Float Your Boat

Some of us scientists in the Float Your Boat project go on scientific cruises to the Arctic every year. In 2020 and 2021 we have set out five ice buoys on the sea ice during three cruises, and we have been able to follow them ever since. More cruises will happen in the future!

FYB setting out in Arctic
Many boats were set out here in the summer of 2020, north of Svalbard, on sea ice floating on the Arctic Ocean. The ice buoy reporting data daily is the white "ball" sitting in the middle. Photo: Hanne Sagen, NERSC

Small wooden boats as an addition

But we don't just set out our ice buoys, we also involve aspiring future scientists - primary and high school students! Students from different schools have helped us to add something special to the project to increase the range of our observations. When a buoy battery dies, we have no way to continue following it and we have no idea where it ends up. The student work starts here: They got to decorate small wooden boats that we set out together on the sea ice with the ice buoys, hundreds of boats at a time!

FYB wooden boats
Five of the hundreds of boats drifting on the Arctic sea ice right now. Photo: Espen Storheim, NERSC

How do we use the boats?

When the ice floe the buoy and the boats sit on melts, they all begin to float in the water, and are being moved by the ocean currents, and after a while they can end up on the shorelines of for example Svalbard, Greenland, or Iceland. If people find a boat on the beach, they can then report the finding thanks to an engraved number and a website link on the boat! This will then help us to estimate how long it took the small wooden boat to float from the Arctic Ocean to the shore.

The buoys are the main scientific part in the project, but the wooden boats make it fun!