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TOPtoTOP Arctic Research Expedition 2021

Analysing origin, quality and ecological impacts of microplastic pollution in the Arctic in an exemplary, environmental-friendly way: from the highest volcano in the Arctic to the pack ice and the Arctic Ocean, we EXPLORE – INSPIRE – ACT. Join our campaign “SAVE the ARCTIC”!

Beerenberg – highest volcano in the Arctic on Jan Mayen Island


Please help crowed-funding for new batteries for the TOPtoTOP expedition sailbaot “Pachamama”!

Mikroplastik-Forschung, Main Post, Austria, by Christian Hüther, 2021-04-16


The Arctic is facing increasing stressors under global change. Plastic pollution is starting to become a major threat to pristine Arctic environments. Yet, research concerning the quality and quantity of pollution, as well as public awareness on this issue, remains scarce.
We intend to change this with our research expedition and combined outreach work!

  1. Analyzing origin, quality and ecological impacts of microplastic pollution on the Arctic environment.
  2. Raising Awareness and inspiring for Action with our campaign “SAVE the ARCTIC”.

Supervisors: Dario Schwörer, Birgit Sattler

Mentors: Marianne Nielsen, Loïc Pelissier, Ásta M. Ásmundsdóttir, Alessio Gomiero

Researchers: Sebastian Pohl, Max Kortmann, Meret Jucker, Dario Schwörer

Please help crowdfund the participation of the young Austrian researchers Sebastian Pohl and Max Kortmann!

Partners: Western Norway University of Applied SciencesNORCEUniversity of InnsbruckETH ZürichUniversity of AkureyriTOPtoTOP FoundationLiechtensteinische Ges. f. UmweltschutzAustrian Polar Research InstituteSwiss Polar Institute

Main sponsor: Victorinox

Contact: max(at) or sebastian(at)

Project summary:

Download “Project Summary Poster” (German version) and “Detailed Project Description


Plastic production remains on the rise. This causes growing concern for the vast amounts of inadequately disposed debris entering oceans and atmosphere globally and its effects on Arctic environments. Due to the remote and seemingly pristine nature of the Arctic, low levels of plastic pollution were expected. However, the few studies measuring Microplastics (MP) in the Arctic have recorded the presence of MPs in marine and terrestrial environments, as well as ingested by Arctic biota. The plastic fragments become increasingly bioavailable and begin to provoke negative responses. Studies at a greater spatial scale however (especially for terrestrial habitats) are largely missing, as is the knowledge of the exact origins and transportation pathways. We intend to shed light on this rising Issue and use our research expedition, as well as our “SAVE the ARCTIC” campaign, to advocate for a better world – in our case: a world with far less plastic!


Dario Schwörer and his family sailed around the globe by fair means over the last two decades. Their “TOPtoTOP Global Climate Expedition” led them on a mission to educate the younger generation about the rising climate crisis and ways to prevent it. This summer, the TOPtoTOP-Crew teams up with Austrian researchers Sebastian Pohl and Max Kortmann to study the scarcely researched Arctic MP pollution. A highlight will be the first ever MP sampling on the 2277m high Beerenberg volcano on Jan Mayen. The 15m sailboat “Pachamama” will take our team on an environmentally friendly journey from Tromsø to Svalbard, Jan Mayen, Greenland and finally down to Iceland, from May until end of July 2021.

Scientific Research Projects

We plan to conduct two major research projects during this expedition. The first one focuses on the terrestrial MP pollution, the distribution vectors of the particles and the effects they have on biota in cryospheric habitats. The second one is an on-going project that aims to understand the localization, concentration, and composition of MPs in Arctic waters, as well as the role the North Atlantic and Norwegian Coastal Currents may play in transporting plastics into the Arctic. We will sample terrestrial locations with differing anthropogenic impacts (Jan Mayen and Greenland being less, Svalbard and Iceland more impacted), as well as the marine environments along the route. Our expedition will gather important and still scarce data concerning the MP pollution around the heart of the Arctic Sea!

Outreach and Awareness

We believe that science and knowledge drive change. That is why we intend to couple our research with comprehensive outreach work. We want to spread the word about the increasing plastic problem we are globally facing. To achieve this, we cooperate with schools from Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Iceland, as well as the local Arctic communities in Norway and Greenland. We will hold workshops focused on the expedition and our results, but also include the local youngsters in our sampling efforts and offer them skill-sharing possibilities. To follow the progress of our Arctic adventure, we will feed our own Online Expedition School “ADVENTURE” with live reports and videos from the field. We hope, this first-hand experience of our sustainably executed Arctic expedition inspires the youngster to help mitigate the increasing problems that arise with global change. 

NEWS: The “International Topper Class Association” teams up with TOPtoTOP to give young Inuits and Samis new perspectives trough outdoor-sports. Read ITCA World press release.

TOPtoTOP Lyngen – Information Day

(pic = Noé Optimist sailing at 70 degrees North in January)

Information Day about activities and trainings in 2021

Meeting: Saturday 13.02.2021 at 11:00 at the ski-lift in Lyngseidet
1. information about the planned activities
2. “Avalanche Rescue Game”, before skiing
3. visit sailboats at the school, after skiing
All welcome! Students, parents, volunteers, etc.!
First activities:
Sailing / Ski-Mo / Chess: ALWAYS Fridays from 1700-1830, START 19.02.2021
Indoor climbing: ALWAYS Sundays from 1700-1830, START 14.02.2021
Swimming: ALWAYS Wednesdays 1700-1830, START 17.02.2021

How to join: Please download WhatsApp. Send us a Whatsapp to join the “TOPtoTOP Lygen Whatsapp Group” and get all the information about dates & times of the trainings as well as Corona rules.

Sailing connects young people to nature and has a lot of benefits:

  • learn perseverance
  • healthy
  • becoming part of nature
  • strategic thinking
  • take responsibility
  • self-confidence

We learn to sail on Boards, Optimists, Toppers and Yachts (1).
To become a good sailer, we integrate other sports in our trainings:

ski racing: power, endurance

chess: strategy

swimming: security

climbing: back muscles, equilibrium

ski-mountaineering: coordination, equilibrium

surfing: coordination, equilibrium

cycling: coordination, equilibrium

(1) The TOPtoTOP expedition sailboat can operate with maximum safety in the toughest marine environments, and therefore is a great tool to learn young people to sail on a yacht.

Download article as PDF

TOP Lyngen meets today Friday the 19.02.2021 from 17.30h till 18.30h at the park in Lyngseidet for the “Avalanche Rescue Game”.
We learn how to find and rescue somebody in an avalanche. All welcome!

Expedition Sailing Virtual Boat Show

Join TOPtoTOP Expedition @ the Expedition Sailing Virtual Boat Show! ..and see some more videos of the TOPtoTOP Expedition Sailboat “Pachamama” in the Arctic.

Please join our campaign to “SAVE the ARCTIC”!

Check out where we have been and where we plan to go in the future.

At the moment we are save on SY Pachamama at 70 degrees Nord in Lyngen, Norwegian Arctic. The temperature outside the boat is minus 20 degrees Celsius. The light is back for a couple of hours. We are expecting the sun to be back in some days. – Pics: Dario ice climbing with Martin from Lyngseidet and Arthur from Chamonix, – close to the boat.

Merry Xmas from the Arctic

What is in there?
Wou, a very very special present from the Arctic!
We invite you to experience the Arctic with the cleanest air on the planet! We like to spend more time with you as soon as conditions allow!
Join our campaign to “SAVE the ARCTIC“!
Merry Xmas from sailboat Pachamama @ 70 degrees North: Sabine&Dario, Salina, Andri, Noé, Alegra, Mia and Vital

In the last three years you have been an important part of saving our project “TOPtoTOP Global Climate Expedition” to save the planet.

Together, we managed to fix our boat and keep the project going, inspiring people to save our planet. This was not without cost: we also had to overcome a burnout.
Therefore, a little belatedly, our thanks to your loyal support.
Today we would like to share with you the success of persevering: We are back on track, highly motivated and full of spirit to continue to dedicate our lives to this wonderful planet Earth!

Right now we are in the high Arctic at 70 degrees North, inspiring school children, rescuing polar bears as well as orcas, and taking water samples for microplastic and DNA analysis. Please read and share our 2020 TOPtoTOP Annual Report download PDF and our new Save the Arctic campaign.

See one of our many highlights in 2020:

“It’s not important where you are in life. It’s all about who you have by your side that matters. Thank you for being on our side to make a change! Save the planet!”

Get a tax deduction by a donation to the non-profit TOPtoTOP Foundation.

Follow on our Instagram and subscribe on our Youtube Channel.

Thank you for your donation: TOPtoTOP, Grundstrasse 4b, CH-6343 Rotkreuz, Switzerland, IBAN: CH 070900 0000 9011 93361

Hope you are able to  join us in 2021! – Merry Xmas!

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