Wednesday, April 17, 2024
New Wave Media

February 15, 2024

Jim McNeill is Leading Earth’s Citizen Warriors Across the Sea

  • Ocean Warrior founder and renowned explorer, Jim McNeill. Image copyright Jim McNeill/Global Warrior
  • Ocean Warrior founder and renowned explorer, Jim McNeill. Image copyright Jim McNeill/Global Warrior
  • High quality, precision data is fundamental to Ocean Warrior’s success, enabling the team to measure and benchmark environmental change as the project develops. Valeport’s SWiFT CTDplus Chlorophyll a profiler was the obvious choice due to its simplicity of use, internal rechargeable battery, and an integral GNSS module to geo-locate each profile. Using Valeport’s world-leading high accuracy sensor technology to combine sensors for multiple profiles in a single drop, the SWiFT CTDplus Chlorophyll
  • High quality, precision data is fundamental to Ocean Warrior’s success, enabling the team to measure and benchmark environmental change as the project develops. Valeport’s SWiFT CTDplus Chlorophyll a profiler was the obvious choice due to its simplicity of use, internal rechargeable battery, and an integral GNSS module to geo-locate each profile. Using Valeport’s world-leading high accuracy sensor technology to combine sensors for multiple profiles in a single drop, the SWiFT CTDplus Chlorophyll
  • Image copyright Jim McNeill/Global Warrior
  • Image copyright Jim McNeill/Global Warrior
  • Image copyright Jim McNeill/Global Warrior
  • Image copyright Jim McNeill/Global Warrior
  • Image copyright Jim McNeill/Global Warrior
  • Image copyright Jim McNeill/Global Warrior
  • Image copyright Jim McNeill/Global Warrior
  • Image copyright Jim McNeill/Global Warrior
  • Image copyright Jim McNeill/Global Warrior
  • Image copyright Jim McNeill/Global Warrior
  • Ocean Warrior founder and renowned explorer, Jim McNeill. Image copyright Jim McNeill/Global Warrior Ocean Warrior founder and renowned explorer, Jim McNeill. Image copyright Jim McNeill/Global Warrior
  • Ocean Warrior founder and renowned explorer, Jim McNeill. Image copyright Jim McNeill/Global Warrior Ocean Warrior founder and renowned explorer, Jim McNeill. Image copyright Jim McNeill/Global Warrior
  • High quality, precision data is fundamental to Ocean Warrior’s success, enabling the team to measure and benchmark environmental change as the project develops. Valeport’s SWiFT CTDplus Chlorophyll a profiler was the obvious choice due to its simplicity of use, internal rechargeable battery, and an integral GNSS module to geo-locate each profile. Using Valeport’s world-leading high accuracy sensor technology to combine sensors for multiple profiles in a single drop, the SWiFT CTDplus Chlorophyll High quality, precision data is fundamental to Ocean Warrior’s success, enabling the team to measure and benchmark environmental change as the project develops. Valeport’s SWiFT CTDplus Chlorophyll a profiler was the obvious choice due to its simplicity of use, internal rechargeable battery, and an integral GNSS module to geo-locate each profile. Using Valeport’s world-leading high accuracy sensor technology to combine sensors for multiple profiles in a single drop, the SWiFT CTDplus Chlorophyll
  • High quality, precision data is fundamental to Ocean Warrior’s success, enabling the team to measure and benchmark environmental change as the project develops. Valeport’s SWiFT CTDplus Chlorophyll a profiler was the obvious choice due to its simplicity of use, internal rechargeable battery, and an integral GNSS module to geo-locate each profile. Using Valeport’s world-leading high accuracy sensor technology to combine sensors for multiple profiles in a single drop, the SWiFT CTDplus Chlorophyll High quality, precision data is fundamental to Ocean Warrior’s success, enabling the team to measure and benchmark environmental change as the project develops. Valeport’s SWiFT CTDplus Chlorophyll a profiler was the obvious choice due to its simplicity of use, internal rechargeable battery, and an integral GNSS module to geo-locate each profile. Using Valeport’s world-leading high accuracy sensor technology to combine sensors for multiple profiles in a single drop, the SWiFT CTDplus Chlorophyll
  • Image copyright Jim McNeill/Global Warrior Image copyright Jim McNeill/Global Warrior
  • Image copyright Jim McNeill/Global Warrior Image copyright Jim McNeill/Global Warrior
  • Image copyright Jim McNeill/Global Warrior Image copyright Jim McNeill/Global Warrior
  • Image copyright Jim McNeill/Global Warrior Image copyright Jim McNeill/Global Warrior
  • Image copyright Jim McNeill/Global Warrior Image copyright Jim McNeill/Global Warrior
  • Image copyright Jim McNeill/Global Warrior Image copyright Jim McNeill/Global Warrior
  • Image copyright Jim McNeill/Global Warrior Image copyright Jim McNeill/Global Warrior
  • Image copyright Jim McNeill/Global Warrior Image copyright Jim McNeill/Global Warrior
  • Image copyright Jim McNeill/Global Warrior Image copyright Jim McNeill/Global Warrior
  • Image copyright Jim McNeill/Global Warrior Image copyright Jim McNeill/Global Warrior

In the face of intensifying climate change and associated environmental unknowns, one world explorer has spent decades mobilizing individuals with the knowledge tools to better live, work and play harmoniously with nature. Many communities, particularly from the Industrial Revolution through modern society today, have an inherently discordant relationship with the earth, no longer seeing themselves and their actions as part of the global ecosystem. Enter Jim McNeill, founder of Ocean Warrior, and his accompanying ethos that to better understand the planet and how to maintain life on Earth, humans need to take the pulse of the planet.

“As I’m on deck here, I can’t help but think about the stories that inspire me, of sailors getting in one of these wooden vessels and sailing as far north as they possibly could,” says McNeill from the SV Linden, Ocean Warrior’s three-masted schooner, while sailing north past Svalbard during September’s Foundation Expedition. “It was all about endeavor…and reaching the North Pole, ultimately, that was the goal. It was the goal for glory! I’ve never been motivated by glory,” he chuckled, “but by finding out exactly what’s happening to this ocean all over.”

McNeill, former scientist and internationally renowned British explorer, has more than 36 years of experience travelling and working in polar regions. His aptitude for leading and the outdoors was sparked at a young age by participating in a winter course of Outward Bound, a UK-founded outdoor education organization, that led to lifelong interests in rock climbing and mountaineering. His career since has taken him across the harshest ecosystems, including roles in the environmental sector, military, emergency services and communications. He’s also served as consultant on extreme environments for numerous projects, from the BBC’s Frozen Planet to Captain America.

The Foundation Expedition last September marked the start of a new realm in McNeill’s journey to bridge discovery and citizen science: the ocean. While similar work has been conducted since 2001 as part of McNeill’s first warrior program, Ice Warrior, “the oceans are a new domain for me and I like to do my homework thoroughly,” he shared. The Foundation Expedition was exactly that: a chance to see how the Linden operated and to build the leadership dynamic with Captain Rasmus Jacobsen.


Image copyright Jim McNeill/Global Warrior

Images copyright Jim McNeill/Global Warrior

Getting Underway

“A modern-day warrior is not about war. It’s about the person—honesty, integrity, empathy, intelligence, courage, tenacity and resolve,” shared McNeill. “It’s about one’s purpose and what better purpose is there besides the guardianship of the planet and the survival of humans among all species?”
With this mentality and inspired by stories of early explorers taking time off from their adventures to learn from nature, Ice Warrior was born. Ocean Warrior follows a similar structure, training volunteers in competence and safety on the seas. McNeill’s goal though is to share the ability to explore, “inspiring people from all walks of life to become the new age of explorers, helping scientists discover change, and telling their own tales to inform and engage others.”

For the first 10-day leg of the expedition, departing Svalbard on September 1, 2023, the 18-strong team of scientists, citizen scientists and crew members were tasked with “building an understanding of the vessel and her capabilities” to maximize the potential for scientific data capture. Ocean Warrior aims to install and test a variety of equipment to measure indicators like water quality, plankton, eDNA, salinity and ocean acidity, including weather stations, FerryBox, CTD, bathymetry, communications and safety. The instrumentation to be used on board by the team will be sorted by February 2024 through a consortium of ocean scientists, shared McNeill. Additionally, an online dashboard will convey findings and share stories.

Sailing to remote parts of the ocean between June and October, Ocean Warrior intends to cover 10,000 nautical miles a year during the next decade. While there’s no typical day on board, tasks include scientific sampling and data logging, instrumentation maintenance, addressing crew necessities like food, and documenting personal experiences through images, videos and written logs. Additionally, the team will deliver and attend lectures about science on board and engage virtually with school groups. The scientists, citizen warriors and crew will be carried by the Linden, Europe’s largest three-masted schooner of its kind, hand-built by shipwrights of the museum community of the Åland Islands in Finland and launched in 1993.


Image copyright Jim McNeill/Global Warrior


Groundswell

The Warrior programs, while training explorers, are also grounded in science—specifically in citizen science. “For over 60 years, we’ve known that polar regions are key to our survival,” said McNeill of the work conducted through Ice Warrior. “They provide a cooling effect which allows us to live in what would otherwise be an uninhabitable environment. We know rapid and unprecedented changes are occurring in the Arctic that affect the rest of the world and yet, scientifically, it is still poorly understood.”

Since Ice Warrior’s founding 23 years ago, more than 450 people have been trained, helping scientists discover Arctic change and delivering this information to global audiences. Ocean Warrior will continue this theme, sampling in remote regions and rapidly communicating findings to scientists and the public sphere. “To give people real purpose and allow them to do something truly positive about the biggest crisis humanity has faced will hopefully inspire them to tell their own stories of their involvement, which reaches a much broader and deeper audience,” explained McNeill. “The more we can engage the general public in science, the more they can be aware of the real image of what is happening to our world and cut through the sensationalism of the press and the lobbying of the commercial entities.”

The expeditions further support the power of citizen science by combining the skills and passions of scientists, organizations, students, technologists and even those with no prior exposure to science. Sampling will also provide a platform for novel science, supporting new technologies and methods.



High quality, precision data is fundamental to Ocean Warrior’s success, enabling the team to measure and benchmark environmental change as the project develops. Valeport’s SWiFT CTDplus Chlorophyll a profiler was the obvious choice due to its simplicity of use, internal rechargeable battery, and an integral GNSS module to geo-locate each profile. Using Valeport’s world-leading high accuracy sensor technology to combine sensors for multiple profiles in a single drop, the SWiFT CTDplus Chlorophyll a measured the physical parameters of the seawater including Conductivity, Temperature and Depth with Chlorophyll a observations. These are key indicators for biological production and climate change which is a key focus of the expeditions.
Images copyright Jim McNeill/Global Warrior



All Hands on Deck

“We need everyone—sponsors, technologists, scientists, grant-giving bodies, philanthropists and ordinary people to engage, help and support Ocean Warrior in the initial stages so that our part can be proven, improved and expanded upon,” implored McNeill. By assessing the extent of anthropogenic impacts in extreme environments, which are the best regions for evaluating global change, it becomes easier to identify and counteract future problems earlier. “Our remit is to discover indisputable evidence and to convey that in every way, shape and form we can in near real time,” he added. In doing so, governments and industries can be better informed and held accountable for their actions—and just as crucially, their inactions.

Understanding the planet as climate warriors isn't limited to polar regions and the ocean. Global Warrior, which represents all of McNeill's extreme climate expeditions, will extend its reach into the desert sometime this year. Jungle and mountain programs will follow in 2025.

Ocean Warrior has a daunting, yet admirable task ahead of itself in scientific sampling, exploration and storytelling, engaging humanity everywhere and mobilizing interdisciplinary skills to understand the deep blue sea—a mystery to humans since time immemorial. The urgency, however, to crack the unknown and by extension mitigate and perhaps ameliorate anthropogenic harm is growing exponentially. Maybe now, with a pulse on the planet and McNeill's ocean warriors at the helm, humanity can do just that.  

Image copyright Jim McNeill/Global Warrior

The February 2024 edition of Marine Technology Reporter is focused on Oceanographic topics and technologies.
Read the Magazine Sponsored by

Drawing the Line: The Farthest, Deepest Limits

Marine Technology Magazine Cover Mar 2024 -

Marine Technology Reporter is the world's largest audited subsea industry publication serving the offshore energy, subsea defense and scientific communities.

Subscribe
Marine Technology ENews subscription

Marine Technology ENews is the subsea industry's largest circulation and most authoritative ENews Service, delivered to your Email three times per week

Subscribe for MTR E-news