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Twenty “climatonavds” plunged into the hell of the Saudi Arabian desert

Twenty scouts returned on June 22 from Saudi Arabia, where they traveled for about 40 days, 250 kilometers in the hot and dry Nefud desert. A stay of biblical duration, where each of the 20 team members had to take turns pulling one of 17 carts weighing around 200 kg, which were used to drink 8 liters of water per day. and scientific materials.

This is the third and final campaign by “climatonats,” a term that only sums up Deep Climate’s ambitions. This cycle of adventures in extreme climates was imagined by Christian Clot, who introduces himself as a Franco-Swiss researcher in cognitive science. on adaptation » and in 2014, the founder of the Institute of Human Adaptation. Therefore, the “climatonavoid” ventures into extreme climatic conditions, such as the conditions that France could experience in 2100, and which sometimes concern the population of some regions of the world, such as in Pakistan, in the spring of 2022, where the temperature rose to 51 °C .

In the case of the Saudi expedition, as in the two previous adventures in the extreme cold of Finnish Lapland (February 20 to April 4) or the warm and humid environment of the Guyana equatorial forest (December 5 to January 2022). 16, 2023), the researchers decided to participate in ” attempts to develop science », explains Nicholas Ngo, 41 years old. This former professor of mathematics who left his position in the Ministry of Research to start a story that helps raise awareness », participated in all three expeditions. The most difficult experience for him was the trip to Guyana in 100% humidity. Another committed adventurer, Mathilde Clemont, also in her forties, is responsible for communications and marketing for the Terre & humanisme NGO, which lives in the south of the Ardèche.

He was elected in 2016. during a call for volunteers to prove that humans are capable of adapting to extreme conditions in a collective ». He was most afraid of the intense heat of the desert and admits to being worried by strong gusts of wind. who led » and mandatory break periods from 10am to 5pm, when temperatures in the shade exceeded 40°C and forced the team to shelter under tarps until the extreme heat subsided.

Cooperation with 18 laboratories and universities

The primary task for the team was to measure how a person faced with a level of change not seen in history can adapt, especially at the cognitive level », says Christian Clot. Its purpose is to create a body of knowledge physical and mental health » in extreme conditions, from -30°C to +50°C, to people who are not adapted to these temperatures. For example, there is no question of taking a native from Amazonia to a Guyanese expedition, because he has already adapted to the humid heat. In the scientific aspect of the expeditions, partnership relations have been established with 18 laboratories and universities.

This is particularly true of Inserm’s Computational Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory, hosted by the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, as well as Onera (aeronautical research) to study the phenomena of memory, attention and brain plasticity in extreme environments. Studies have also been carried out on physiology and sleep in collaboration with the University of Caen and Tours Faculty of Medicine, or genetics with the University of Aix-Marseille.

Scientific results have not yet been published. They should be known from autumn. But through field experiments fifty scientific records »Christian Klott is already leading that this is necessary about 36 days to adapt to new conditions » climatic. And the process of adaptation is difficult to do if there is no wonder or good feelings » climatonauts. He assures that in the cold ” the collective is warming up », unlike very hot environments. In the face of extreme conditions, being alone is not reassuring. But in hell of heat, the group is able to overcome any problem.

Source: Le Figaro

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