polarquest 2021

Save the White


Scientific Research

About the expedition

Polarquest2021 is an Arctic research expedition to the Svalbard Archipelago scheduled to set sail in summer 2021.The Polarquest Association has partnered with Arctic Sail Expeditions-Italia for the organization of this expedition.

We will carry out valuable scientific investigation and communicate about the global catastrophe in progress in the Arctic. Polarquest2021 will build upon the ethos of our pioneering 2018 expedition, with research carried out using technologies that are lightweight, low-cost and – most critically – with a low environmental impact.



The Arctic is the most sensitive region on our planet. The slightest disruption to its delicate balance makes it both an actor and a victim of climate change. As Arctic ice melts, it causes a global imbalance that leads to extreme weather phenomena around the world.


Save the White
Save the Planet


The expedition will depart and return to Longyearbyen, Svalbard in summer of 2021. The Polarquest2021 vessel will navigate towards research areas along the Western and Northeastern coasts of Svalbard and return, if ice and operational conditions allow. Research in the following locations is planned:


Ny-Ålesund is a small settlement in Oscar II Land on the island of Spitsbergen in Svalbard, Norway. It is home to permanent research institutes from ten countries.


Lilliehöökfjorden is a 14 kilometer long fjord branch of Krossfjorden in Albert I Land at the northwestern side of Spitsbergen, Svalbard.


Bockfjorden is a fjord in Haakon VII Land at Spitsbergen, Svalbard, at the western side of Woodfjorden.


Right on the 80th parralel, Kinnvika is a former Swedish-Swiss-Finish research station built during International Polar Year 1957-58.

Sjuøyane Islands

Sjuøyane is the northernmost part of the Svalbard archipelago north of mainland Norway. The islands are just 1024.3 kilometers south of the North Pole.

On board: Best Explorer

The expedition will be carried out on board 51ft S.Y. Best Explorer, currently wintering in Tromsø, Norway. Best Explorer is a Steel Cutter with mobile central board. The record-breaking Best Explorer is the first Italian sailboat to sail the Northwest passage along the classical Amundsen route, sailing 140 days from Norway to Alaska for 8,200 nautical miles, 5000 of which were above the polar circle. Later Best Explorer became the first Italian sailboat to circumnavigate the Arctic sailing north of Siberia from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky to Tromsø and the second ever to do it clockwise.

The Best Explorer crew have experience with scientific research. In 2019, during their wold cruise, they tested scientific equipment for the research institutes ENEA and ISPRA, taking samples and analysing sea plankton to calibrate satellite data. Skipper Nanni Acquarone is a real sea wolf, with 55 years of sailing experience including a world tour of 50,000 nautical miles.


In 2019 Best Explorer was the second boat in the world to circumnavigate the Arctic clockwise.

How has pollution and climate change impacted the Arctic Ocean?  How are species adapting? Can we still save the white?

Scientific Research

SONAR Project

The SONAR Project of the Polarquest2021 expedition will carry out detailed cartography of the seafloor by use of a high resolution, light-weight multi-beam sonar in a region of the Arctic ocean Northeast of Nordaustlandet.

One objective will be to obtain a detailed map of the seafloor in a region that is still poorly mapped. Our team will also measure dissolved methane and CO2 concentrations in the Arctic. These two key greenhouse gases will be measured on surface water concentrations and deeper samples through bubble release.

The successful deployment and use of this tool from a small sailboat will be an important test of environment-friendly, low-cost oceanographic research platforms in the Arctic.

WW2 British waterplane located by Polarquest team using sonar.

E-DNA Research

Environmental DNA – or E-DNA – is DNA that is collected from a variety of environmental samples, such as water or ice. As various organisms interact with the environment, DNA is expelled and accumulates in their surroundings from various sources. This e-DNA can give scientists unique insight into the behaviour and health of local fauna and flora without any direct interaction.

Polarquest2021’s E-DNA research project will collect samples in Svalbard fjords. Samples will be analysed with a new non-invasive e-DNA innovative instrument. This is the first step in setting up a portable analysis procedure aboard small ships, allowing scientists to take real-time measurements of biodiversity as an indicator for climate change effects.

Svalbard glacier ideal for E-DNA samples. Image: Polarquest2018

Driftwood Sampling

The Polarquest2021 team will also carry out a scientific study of the driftwood found in the Arctic. This investigation will include the documentation and possible analysis of removed samples from driftwood, in order to study accumulation dynamics, timing and – if possible – drifting paths of the driftwood. 

Driftwood collects on the shores of Svalbard. Image: Polarquest2018

Drone Mapping

Using small commercial drones, the Polarquest2021 team will document the environmental status of some uninhabited areas in the Eastern and Northern region of Svalbard. A key environmental issues that drone mapping can address is the presence of macroplastic pollution

Mapping glaciers with drones. Image: Polarquest2018

Our Commitment to Sustainable Science

The Polarquest Association commits to minimising any perturbation associated with our activity and respect restrictive zones and recommendations around wildlife. The team onboard BEST EXPLORER hold the proper expertise due to the long-term experience developed in Arctic navigation and in specific research activities. The samples collected will not be used for commercial purpose but for research and methodological development.

Environment protection and safe operation will be achieved by properly focusing pre-expedition training on avoiding environmental damage and preventing contamination of visited locations and environments with on-board materials or foreign objects and organisms. 

Our Partners & Sponsors

Best Explorer
Best Explorer
Osservatrio Artico
L'Italia al Polo Nord
L'Italia al Polo Nord

Subscribe to Our Newsletter