• A Call to AntarcticaOn March 10, 2009 at 13:43:19 French time, Skipper Rich Wilson and Great American III crossed the finish line at Les Sables d'Olonne. Race time: 121 days, 41 minutes and 19 seconds
  • Thank you for all of your kind notes, and for joining us on another educational adventure at sitesALIVE!



Question asked by Jesse:

Can climate change affect the race?


Dr. jan WittingThe answer is no and yes. The changes in the climate are slow enough that they don't really show during any one year, but they will appear over periods of many years and decades. As a result, climate change, as a process, is not going to have a direct and immediate effect on the outcome of the race.

Now, we do know that the global climate has seen changes, over the past 50 years in particular. For example, it seems that the polar westerlies (the strong winds that circle Antarctica) have increased in strength over the past thirty years. This means there will be bigger seas in the Southern Ocean and higher forces pushing on the sails and the rig, making the race tougher than it might have been in the eighties. Perhaps this might give an edge to some boats. 

Overall though, short-term fluctuations in the atmosphere, what we call “changes in the weather”, will be much more important.

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