Sunday, October 25, 2009

East Coast USA

Miami ends our east coat run which has included stops in Boston, Newport, New York City,
Charleston and now Miami.

The crew of Ocean Watch has encountered many people from all walks of life from school children to top scientists in their respective fields of study. We are spreading the word by story-telling, presentations and news media of issues, especially in the Arctic, of changes to seas, oceans, ice, and culture.

While climate change remains the over-riding big issue tying all things together, the tropical and equatorial topics are changing the discussions now to coral reefs, bleaching, ocean acidification, currents, and fishery issues. These are just a few of the subjects we will be looking at as we move east to Puerto Rico and southeast to Brazil and beyond.

Keep up with us at

Thanks all, David

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Halifax, Nova Scotia

Well, after 8000 miles of sailing through the NW Passage from Seattle we are in our last Canadian port in the beautiful maritime city of Halifax. There is an open boat tour tomorrow and then I am off to speak at the New England aquarium in Boston on Monday. Whirlwind for sure.

Just as suspected, data is coming in and once again confirming the Arctic Sea ice is continuing its downward trend. Only the last two years have seen lower ice concentrations. Here is the latest from the NSIDC:

September 17, 2009
Arctic sea ice reaches annual minimum extent

Arctic sea ice appears to have reached its minimum extent for the year, the third-lowest extent since the start of satellite measurements in 1979. While this year’s minimum extent is above the record and near-record minimums of the last two years, it further reinforces the strong negative trend in summertime ice extent observed over the past thirty years.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

St. John's, Newfoundland

Ocean Watch sailed south of the Arctic Circle this past week and officially left the Arctic and in doing so completed the historic west to east transit of the Northwest Passage. We are the first American vessel to ever achieve this in a single season from the west and only the third small American vessel of any kind to make the easterly passage.

There were a record number of vessels attempting the passage this season another sure sign of a changing climate in the north. There will certainly be more and more attempts in the years to come. This comes with other consequences as sailors and boaters of any and all skill levels will be trying the north. The Canadian Coast Guard will be put to the test and as we found out this summer with another sailboat, it is very expensive when assistance is requested. The Canadian icebreaker burned through $25,000 in fuel to come to the assistance of the small sailboat only to find the owner had freed themselves of danger and not bothered to let the Canadian Coast Guard know. One of many stories.

The multi-year ice is diminishing and the cycle is in place for further melting. There is quite a discussion about how many events, such as the dramatic 2007 melt, the polar ice cap can withstand. I encourage everyone to take a serious look at the issue. Very easy to find information online. Here is some of the latest from the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC):

August 2009 compared to past years

Arctic sea ice extent for August 2009 was the third lowest August since 1978, continuing the downward trend observed over the last three decades. Only 2007 and 2008 had lower ice extent during August. The long-term trend indicates a decline of 8.7% per decade in August ice extent since 1979.

Now we are heading south and on to Halifax, Boston, NYC, Charleston, and Miami. Our focus will shift into the science, education, and presentation modes. We look forward to the challenges ahead.

Again, thank you to all who have assisted us on Ocean Watch and those of you who have helped me in so many ways in a more personal manner.

See you in a port closer to home very soon...

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Completed Northwest Passage

Saturday, August 30th. Pond Inlet, Nunavut, Canada

Ocean Watch finally turned south and headed down Navy Board Inlet to this picturesque little Canadian hamlet on Baffin Island. We made it! Tomorrow we fuel up and head out into Baffin Bay and head south to ice-free waters and St. John's, Newfoundland.

We became the first American vessel in history to make the west to east passage in a single year and only the third American small vessel to ever complete a west to east passage. Amazing in 2009 there remains such small numbers, but they will be growing as more vessels hear it is doable. Probably 9-10 small vessels of various nationalities will make the passage this year. A record.

I am the first American sailor to make the Northwest Passage in both directions, and for sure the first to make the passage both directions in a single year (sailed on Roger Swanson's Cloud Nine, 2007, east to west). Of course a sailor from Iowa would do that, right, but I typify what is happening with more explorers of all walks of life, in all kinds of boats coming further north.

While some folks have been saying there was more ice this year and climate change therefore is not happening, I point once again to a record number of boats completing the NW Passage and the ice dissintegrating again, although slightly later than the last two years.

Actually all the warming and melting the last two years contributed to more ice in the channels here through the passage as older ice wwas released from the more northern pack ice and freed up to move south into more ice free waters and then refreeze with new, first-year ice more susceptible to the melt season. Older ice is thicker and less prone to the summer melt season. These were the factors this summer for our attempt.

Lots to study, data to assemble, and presentations to ready as we now head south on Ocean Watch to poulation centers along the eastern seaboard of both continents and discuss sea and ocean issues with scientists, educators, school children and the public at large. We cannot wait to have and share these opportunities with you.

Thanks to all who have assisted me personally and Ocean Watch in general. Could not have done it without you. More to come soon along the path as we head south to the Arctic Circle now and exit the Arctic, my sixth time across this northern boundary.

Stayed tuned to the Ocean Watch website (link to the right). Great work accumulating there and we have a surprise in a book being published and released for our NYC arrival! New articles in Cruising World, BoatUS, and Soundings magazines. Real Science online also has good coverage.

Thanks again everyone. See you very soon in a port near you! Signing off for now.
Photographer and crewmember, David Thoreson over and out of here.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A few highlights from recent events.

Yes that is DT looking for open leads in the pack ice and at last, finding them. Also we found the Brits in the small boat ( and my pictures on the Jumbotron on Times Sqare, NYC.... and so we on Ocean Watch roll on to Gjoa Haven.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Arrived in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, Arctic Canada

August 16 Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, Canada

It has been some three weeks since updating my blog. Apologies but hey you know it has been a somewhat busy time in life.

We have sailed from Barrow, Alaska, to Cambridge Bay, a great NW Passage stop in the Canadian territory of Nunavut, 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle. There are three sailboats (maybe four as I write) here doing the passage and the first east to west boat has just arrived. This is a French sailboat captained by the famous French sailor/racer Philippe Poupon. He is with his wife, four kids and a dog.

We on Ocean Watch have encountered great people and gathered rich experiences along the path at Cooper Island with George Divoky, Herschel Island and its great whaling history, Tuktoyaktuk and traditional hunting/fishing, Summer's Harbour and Pearce Point with amazing landscapes, nature, and new friends. We found lots of ice in Amundsen Gulf and worked our way through the maze and discovered two British Royal Marines doing the passage in an open 17' sailboat. And then went ice-free and sailed unencumbered into Cambridge last night.

Ice reports look pretty good to run over to Gjoa Haven, Roald Amundsen's infamous winter harbor for two years. Then we will see what happens in the channels to the north. Right now we enjoy a break and try to soak in the experiences and fathom the issues of the Arctic.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Ice Waiting in Barrow

Barrow is proving to be quite a stop with now three Northwest Passage sailboats in the area. The Canadian Open Passage Expedition is in town. I consulted with Cameron Dueck over a year ago on how to transit the passage. Now here he and crew are, poised to move east, investigate for themselves, and see what happens. The other vessel is Baloum Gwen, a custom 49-foot metal sailboat skippered by Thierry Fabing of France which did the passage last year east to west. Now they are attempting to go back west to east. I believe this is unprecedented.

Everyone is looking at climate change issues. We have been meeting with NOAA scientists and whale experts including native eskimo whale captains. We played soccer on the blue field and while there heard stories of houses here in Barrow becoming unstable because the pilings weren't deep enough into the now unfrozen "permafrost." Traditional deep food storage in the permafrost is now in jeopardy as they need to be up to 25 feet deep instead of the 12-15. Hunters and fisherman are falling through the ice even in winter as warmer, fast-moving currents are melting the ice from beneath.

Today we listened to much of the Pt. Hope, Alaska, energy conference where oil companies were doing their usual things offering gifts of high-payng jobs and thriving local economies if only they are allowed to drill n Arctic waters. Native people are wondering what happens to their subsistence fishing and hunting when whales ears explode from seismic testing or these waters are fouled by an oil spill.
There are no large ship ports in the north and it is very shall. Quick response to a spill is virtually impossible.

These are a few of the issues and items we ponder as we wait for ice to clear to the east and continue on into the heart of the NW Passage.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ice Outlook from National Snow and Ice Data Center

This is a quote from the NSIDC which leaves some speculation as to what is taking place up here this summer. Sounds similar to my 2007 success on Cloud Nine but less rapid breakup of the ice. What will we see?

The Arctic is now in the midst of the summer melt season. Through most of June, ice extent tracked below the 1979 to 2000 average, and slightly above the levels recorded during June 2007. Warm temperatures and southerly winds led to quickly declining ice concentration in some regions, such as the Laptev Sea.

The contrast between high and low pressure is broadly similar to the atmospheric circulation pattern that set up in 2007. In 2007, that pattern contributed to a significantly accelerated decline in ice extent during July, and a record minimum low in September. Will the same acceleration in ice melt occur this year? If so, a new record low minimum extent becomes more likely. So far, an acceleration has not been observed. As July progresses, the Arctic sun gets lower on the horizon, incoming solar energy decreases, and the chances of such a rapid decline become less likely.

Photos From Nome to Barrow- From Ice to Science

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Top of the World

July 14, 2009 Barrow, Alaska
Here we are at our icy corner where we make a hard starboard and head east and into the heart of the Northwest Passage. But for now some rest and regrouping is going on aboard Ocean Watch. Our young mate Tyler Osberg left this morning and our educator, Zeta Strickland has arrived and is aboard OW to Boston now.

We had plenty of ice coming into Barrow and had to slip in close and take a shore lead through 1-3 tenths ice. Some trying conditions to make it in. We anchored off the downtown boatramp and immediately the current pushing ice like bowling balls our way. Within a couple minutes of dropping the anchor we had a huge ice floe on our anchor chain. Three of us grabbed ice poles and tried to pivot it off. No way. After some back and forth a piece broke off and the imbalance allowed us to spin it off.

We had to move. Around Pt Barrow we went. Found a better anchorage after 1-2 tenths ice and dropped the hook. 0530 July 13th. It had been 12 hours in the ice. We were beat.

Right in the middle of the big ice floe nailing our chain, Dave and Herb saw a "sea monster." A huge jellyfish. So we had science going on also in the midst of the chaos. Off went Michael, Bryan and Tyler for the jellyfish kit. We landed the biggest jelly yet and dissected it for a sample. Jellyfish as we now know are the "canary in the coal mines" of the seas and oceans. They tell us much about the health of our ecosystems so this is a huge part of our work aboard Ocean Watch. Sometimes science just happens at strange moments indeed.

The passage from Nome was eventful. Great sailing, Bering Strait, crossing the Arctic Circle and sailing the Chukchi Sea. The midnight sun was just as ordered on a spectacular evening off Icy Cape northward. Herb and I got some great kayaking in off Cape Lisburne above the Circle on a beautiful evening and we recovered a grounded Arctic research buoy on the way up here. We have been very busy out at sea.

Ice reports look favorable. We will wait a few days before proceeding east and hope a nice lead opens up for a great run to Herschel Island and Tuktoyuktuk. In the meantime, Barrow and an interesting community and some surprises to come...
DT signing off for now.

Monday, July 6, 2009

French Kayaker in Nome

We have a new friend. Jean-Gabriel Chelala just rescued from the Bering Sea in his kayak is now in Nome. He is fine but his dream has temporarily ended. He will soon try to get going again in Russia. I will tell more of the story here shortly. We just had breakfast while he told the Ocean Watch crew his amazing story. There are many news media links out there. Google- French kayaker rescued.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Independence Day

Happy Independence Day to all. I want to say that I am thankful everyday that I am fortunate enough to be out here experiencing the beautiful natural world. Yes, it is under seige from many directions, but yet one must still sit back, enjoy and be in awe of the wonderful spectacle which only the natural world can supply. We must protect our natural resources for future generations.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Media Accumulating

Starting to be some good media stories out on our venture from the University of Washington, NASA, to REAL Science. Bad internet here in Nome, but please Google some of these sources if you have time. Thanks

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Ice Forecast from the Canadian Ice Service

Well folks read this and make your own informed decision as we proceed in the Northwest Passage next week by crossing the Arctic Circle. You can get ice reports from the "links" button on my website and go to the Canadian Ice Service. Same ice info we have. Good luck with your own anaysis....

The only region where mean temperatures were above normal was in the Resolute
Bay area. The breakup pattern is quite normal for the Central Arctic region
except for the eastern Barrow Strait region which is already depleted of ice; this
typically occurs in the third week of July. In the Western Arctic region, the
breakup pattern is 1-3 weeks early in many coastal areas and by as much as one
month in isolated areas. During the last 2 weeks of June, open drift or less ice
conditions into Wainwright developed as well as an open water route between
Cape Lisburne and Point Barrow albeit small areas of coastal fast ice are still
present north of Wainwright. Kugmallit Bay cleared of ice during the last week of
June and some fast ice still lingers in the northeastern entrance to Mackenzie
Bay; the clearing of Mackenzie Bay is already 2 weeks late. The fast ice in
Amundsen Gulf and along the Tuktoyaktuk Peninsula fractured; this occurred 7
to 10 days earlier than expected. A 60 to 100-mile wide area containing very little
ice developed along the southern Beaufort Sea west of Banks Island all the way
to just east of Point Barrow. This wide area quickly shrinks to only a few miles
wide north and northeast of Point Barrow.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A Few Photos

Ocean Watch arrives in Nome, Alaska

Again, lots of catch up but I am keeping a few notes daily and posting when we arrive.
Sitting at the Nugget Inn where OW has a room for working and off boat water usage. No water on our dockspace. Cleaned up the boat this AM. The local gold dredgers are more busy than ever. Gold rush times again. Now on to work....

Saturday, June 27 Bering Sea
0830 lazy morning departure from Dutch Harbor after quite a sleep by the crew; guess we all needed it. Dutch was its usual blend of locals, native peoples and company workers. The single entity is UniSea, a huge fishing top to bottom conglomerate who literally owns everything in Dutch from the bar and hospital to the police station. Mostly foreign workers from Asia Pacific rim. We learned that the fishery out here is changing. Fishing boats are having to venture farther away and Russia is effecting Dutch with their Barents Sea operations and transplanting species into that realm. Calm now in the Bering. Heading to Nome. Lots of birds and an unknown whale today with lots of scars. Now 100 nm offshore.

Sunday, June 28 Bering Sea
Great sailing day in the Bering Sea. Roaring along efficiently with the constant hum which begins at about 8 knots. Knocking off miles.

Monday, June 29 Bering Sea, Nunivak Is.
Just off Cape Vancouver near old friend Nunivak Island where Cloud Nine stopped going south in the lee of a big southern blow. Now Ocean Watch has stopped for a different purpose in calm, shallow waters (under 40') to do some science. Taking some jellyfish samples and doing some underwater accoustics with the hydrophone. Perfect opportunity to do some video interviews also.

Oh yes, and we identified the whale. It is a somewhat rare sighting of a Baird's Beaked whale. They are not seen often but are here in these waters of the Alaskan Gulf, Bering Sea and Northern Pacific waters.

We now are closing in on 3000 miles of sailing by Nome. What have we learned thus far? Ocean Watch has spent this time in the Pacific Northwest, Canadian/Alaskan Inside Passages, Gulf of AK, Aleutians and now Bering Sea/Norton Sound. The common theme in all is fisheries. The state of these fisheries is a mixed bag at best.

The native fisheries of Alert Bay are very strained and younger people have lost interest in fishing as a livelihood, but the sea remains alive in their culture. Upland issues in forests (over-logging, etc), like the Tongass, for example, lead to numerous problems downstream for the fisheries, as does commercial development. Farmed fish are a major competitor, but also pose a health/food safety risk as do all confined animal farming operations. Over-fishing and illegal fishing continue to plague the industry. Cruise ships have a huge impact on local communities/cultures and tax the infrastructure. A growing human population worldwide adds to the stresses already on the fisheries.

Climate change and ocean acidification are extremely complex additions to the equation. We sailed through an area of the Gulf of Alaska which is a "carbon sink" with a lower pH and is more acidic. The oceans and seas are absorbing CO2 at an alarming rate, an unsustainable one. The warming trend associated with a changing climate attracts invasive species and forces fisherman into more remote areas using more fuel in the process. Alaskan Polluck are heading north to cooler waters for instance.

Alaskans are fortunate to have had some good leadership but the continued popularity of seafood in growing population centers worldwide is going to add tremendous stress on an already stressed system. These are a few of the things which I, and we, on Ocean Watch are trying to learn more about and share as we can.

Tuesday, June 30th Norton Sound, Alaska
Last leg in. Under 100 miles. Into Nome tonight. Fantastic passage. Translated this means quiet, safe, and free of big moments. So different than 2 years ago. Looking forward to our open house and presentations in Nome on July 2nd.

Wednesday, July 1 Nome, Alaska
Arrived at dock 0030 Hrs. Safe and dry. Ready for our Nome visit.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Dutch Harbor, Alaska. Big milestone.

OK folks. Here is some catch up. Lots of work to do in Dutch Harbor, AK, on the world's deadliest sailboat, Ocean Watch.

Monday, June 15 Hoonah, Alaska
Sitting at the dock in Hoonah, AK, after a short run yesterday from Juneau. "Hoonahlulu" as we are calling it is a little, mostly native, fishing village on Chichigof Is. It will be the last stop before Dutch Harbor. Our scientist, Micheal Reynolds, has his probe in the water this morning taking multiple readings in the harbor, including acoustic measurements. Not much for sun/cloud info today as it is overcast and raining. Captain Schrader shared some wonderful stories last night from his solo days, especially from the Falkland Islands where he had a magnificent adventure in a time of war and conflict.

Tuesday, June 16 Gulf of Alaska
Making our crossing of the Gulf now on our way to Dutch Harbor. About 1000 miles from the little "hobbit" town of Elfin Cove where wooden boardwalks wind around the entire town and you have a constant feeling of being in someone's living room. We departed from this funny little hamlet into Cross Sound at 0700 and are now some 100+ miles off the coast.

The weather cleared and we could clearly see the Glacier Bay wilderness in the distance and then at over 60 miles offshore, the majestic St Elias Mountain range popped up above the clouds. At 19,551 feet, Mount Logan anchors this remote coastal range. Glassy seas and little wind. Ocean Watch motors along this evening looking for some clear skies and lot of stars on a moonless night.

Thursday, June 18 Gulf of Alaska
Happy Birthday Mom! Miss you, sailing the blue waters of Okoboji, all my great friends and loved ones.

Friday, June 19 Gulf of Alaska
Now 450 miles as the crow flies to Dutch Harbor. Should be in Monday morning. Long slog through these waters. Confused sea yesterday after some really good sailing Wednesday. Miles pass, days fade, discussions come and go. Drifting into more science today and the carbon "sink" we are sailing through which is the northern Pacific and Gulf of Alaska where the waters are more acidic (less basic) than the world average. This is an important function of the world's seas and oceans as a "sink" but they are being overwhelmed by the shear amount of carbon in the atmosphere to absorb. See my blog on the AtA site on 6/20.

Saturday, June 20 Gulf of Alaska
The Gulf is kicked up. Right in our face. Just took the second reef and it was messy. Night, dark, dangerous. All of the above. About 175 miles east of the Shumagin Island group, then another 175 to the cut at Unimak Pass.

Sunday, June 21 Gulf of AK
Happy summer solstice. Funny how I have wished this from the north a few times, cold lonely places far away. But in these places there is discovery. We are crossing Cloud Nine's rumb line from a couple years ago. Dutch Harbor Seems an eternity away. 2200- later, things have settled down. Problem is still wind on our nose. Cooling off too. Now 5.5 C. Starting to look for Shishaldin Volcano, 9500' of wow.

Monday, June 22 Unimak Island, AK
Found Shishaldin and its mate, Isanotski Peak. These are amazing formations along the Aleutian Islands. You almost expect them to blow at any time. Shishaldin is a perfect cone volcano. Alaska has 10% of the world’s earthquakes and is situated on the "ring of fire." I remember this area well and use the image I took two years ago in my presentations on climate change.

Tuesday, June 23 Dutch Harbor, AK
We made it! 0230 hrs arrival. Back at the commercial fishing dock where Cloud Nine was two years ago after finding no room in the small boat harbor. Made a bit of a toast together at 0330. A long, long sail across the Gulf against the grain. 1100 miles. Big milestone here folks. We can now go north and set the table for the NW Passage. Got in the bunk at 0400. Sleep came easy. Lot's to do now in Dutch. Science lecture and slideshow tonight to begin. First, breakfast and shower, not necessarily in that order. Look for photos and twitter feeds... Happy to be here.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Check In Checking Out

Hello All,
It has been an extraordinary trip to Juneau. We absolutely had a great time here learned so much from all the dedicated folks in and around this beautiful area. Thanks especially to Theresa and Jeff. You two are amazing. And my personal port hosts (complete with Iowa connection) Bill and Nancy, you two rock! The salmon bake with a fire on their green roof yesterday was a real highlight.

Now on to Dutch Harbor. A long 1000 mile passage through the Gulf of Alaska where two years ago we had 60+ knots and big seas. This will be the first big test of Ocean Watch at sea since Seattle. Please stay tuned to the AtA website; Herb and I will be doing weblogs and updates. I will work on the image library and get that all up and going. We have over a year out here and things are developing as we go, so bear with me and the voyage and it will iron out. Take care out there. Check in soon.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Greetings from Juneau

Hello All, lots going on to say the least. We have had a fantastic visit to Juneau full of science, education and media. Lots of work being done aboard Ocean Watch and we have our first big open house tomorrow. Mark and Michael did radio interviews with Alaska Public Radio and we were on the Juneau Empire front page two days in a row. So excellent local press-

Yesterday we had a visit and interview with Susan Murray and Christopher Krenz from OCEANA. Their offices are right here in Juneau. Check them out. They are dedicated to ocean and sea issues, legislative initiatives, and active public campaigns.

Last night our scientist, Michael Reynolds, was the keynote speaker at the University of Alaska SE here in the Juneau area. Mark Schrader also spoke and I did a slide show to illustrate our journey up to this point and time. First time out of the blocks for all of us. It went very well.

Today we hiked up to Mendenhall Glacier with glaciologist, Roman Motyka. We learned more about the rapidly receding glacier and the cumulative effect this is having in the north, especially in Greenland with its massive ice cap.

Ice reports continue to come in from the Arctic. After a slow beginning to the melt season, the Arctic's ice is beginning it's seasonal melt and is proceeding at a rapid rate of loss. We are expecting the usual pattern of the last couple seasons where the Northwest Passage is completely open once again. Probably good for us, not so good for the planet.

We saw lots of wildlife on the way up especially after entering Alaskan waters. We observed Orcas, lots of dolphins playing wonderfully about the bow, eagles, and a couple humpbacks. We stopped and dissected a jellyfish for sampling and did some acoustic testing. All in all, a great trip north. Just the way we envisioned it could happen.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Alert Bay and out to Sea to Juneau

Watch for a big update from Juneau...
Amazing storyteller William in beautiful and culturally rich Alert Bay.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Victoria, CANADA

Arrived yesterday. Lots to do today. Leave tomorrow for Juneau. Great day yesterday with Carol Hasse and great sailmaking team. More later...

Monday, June 1, 2009

Voyage of Ocean Watch Begins

At 1200 Hours, May 31, 2009, the 64' steel sailing vessel, Ocean Watch, left the dock in Seattle on her 25,000 mile voyage of discovery. It was a scramble to be sure to get going, but thanks to first mate, Dave Logan, and his fine team, we made in the nick of time. We have a great send-off, lots of media, the public, and even bagpipes. 20 people on board made for a festive atmosphere for the short go to Port Townsend, a lovely sea-faring town full of characters and wooden crafts of all sorts. Fantastic home-cooked me for us and wonderful people. Off to Victoria Canada today. Stay tuned, we have begun.

Thoughts from David Rockefeller-
David Rockefeller, Jr., co-founder of Sailors for the Sea, said, “ This project is definitely an expedition for our times. The health of our oceans is important to all of us, not just those who live by the sea. Our food sources, our climate and even the air we breathe are dependent on the vast ocean systems. Around the Americas will demonstrate both the current deterioration of the ocean condition and what we as individuals can do to reverse or at least slow the negative effects.”

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Preparing For Ocean Watch Launch May 31

Final preparations are taking place in Seattle for the launch this weekend of the Around the Americas expedition. The boat is frantically being finished off by Dave Logan and his team. Final science and educational materials being put in place including lots of cool stuff on board for kids. We are all being trained to be citizen scientists. We have Saturday night events and a Sunday morning send off at the Corinthian YC in Seattle at noon. Come see us off or visit the website-
Thanks. Hope you have fun following us.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Arctic's Indigenous Peoples Meeting in Anchorage

"Indigenous peoples have contributed the least to the global problem of climate change but will almost certainly bear the greatest brunt of its impact," said Patricia Cochran, chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council, an organization representing approximately 150,000 Inuit of Alaska, Canada, Greenland, and Chukotka in Russia. The council is hosting the event.

Organizers said the summit will conclude Friday with a declaration and an action plan, and a call to governments around the world to include indigenous people in any new regimes on climate change.

Conference recommendations will be presented to the Conference of Parties at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen, Denmark, this December.

The problems of climate change are real and pressing for many, organizers say. Take the case of Newtok, a village of about 325 people in western Alaska. The Ninglick River is rapidly consuming the land around the Yupik village, forcing residents to relocate to higher ground.

"The global warming is really strong," said Newtok resident Stanley Tom, one of the conference delegates. "The whole village is sinking right now."

Tom said with the increase in temperature, the permafrost has become extremely delicate and the tundra now is prone to tearing if vehicles run over it in the summer.

Monday, April 13, 2009

President Obama Makes Bold Prague Statement

"Together we must confront climate change by ending the world's dependency on fossil fuels by tapping the power from the sources of energy like the wind and the sun and calling upon all nations to do their part. And I pledge to you that in this global effort the US is now ready to lead."

Let's hold him to it. It will take all of us doing our parts and replacing representatives in election cycles when necessary. This is an urgent situation with climate change accelerating and time of the essence.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Arctic's Positive Feedback Loop

This to me is the simplest way to illustrate what is happening in the Arctic. The polar ice cap reflects the sun's energy back into space. But there is now less older ice and more open water in the melt season (darker, absorbs energy as heat). More new ice forms in freezing season. It replaces older ice but is less thick. Breaks up easier in summer, more light penetration, more heat....feeds on itself....

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Arctic Sea Ice Thinner + Positive Feedback Loop

This data visualization from the AMSR-E instrument on the Aqua satellite show the maximum sea ice extent for 2008-09, which occurred on Feb. 28, 2009. Credit: NASA Goddard’s Scientific Visualization Studio

Until recently, the majority of Arctic sea ice survived at least one summer and often several. But things have changed dramatically, according to a team of University of Colorado, Boulder, scientists led by Charles Fowler. Thin seasonal ice — ice that melts and re-freezes every year — makes up about 70 percent of the Arctic sea ice in wintertime, up from 40 to 50 percent in the 1980s and 1990s. Thicker ice, which survives two or more years, now comprises just 10 percent of wintertime ice cover, down from 30 to 40 percent.

According to researchers from the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo., the maximum sea ice extent for 2008-09, reached on Feb. 28, was 15.2 million square kilometers (5.85 million square miles). That is 720,000 square kilometers (278,000 square miles) less than the average extent for 1979 to 2000.

“Ice extent is an important measure of the health of the Arctic, but it only gives us a two-dimensional view of the ice cover,” said Walter Meier, research scientist at the center and the University of Colorado, Boulder. “Thickness is important, especially in the winter, because it is the best overall indicator of the health of the ice cover. As the ice cover in the Arctic grows thinner, it grows more vulnerable to melting in the summer.”

Monday, March 30, 2009

Launching a New World

For Immediate Release:

Information Contact: Dan McConnell 206-819-9211

64-foot Ocean Watch sailboat gets official launch for sea trials:

Historic Sailboat leaves May 31 for first-ever circumnavigation Around the Americas:

SEATTLE—On Tuesday, March 31at 12 noon, the sailing vessel Ocean Watch will be officially launched from Ballard’s Seaview East Boatyard to begin sea trials in Puget Sound. On May 31, the boat and crew will leave Shilshole Marina for the first-ever circumnavigation of the Americas through the Northwest Passage, around Cape Horn and back to Seattle in July, 2010.

This unique voyage, called Around the Americas, has two primary objectives:

1) Engage and educate citizens in North and South America about ocean health issues using science-driven, online education materials and shore-side activities.

2) Inspire and empower citizens to change their behavior to mitigate adverse effects on the health of our seas.

Seattle’s Pacific Science Center has launched Around the Americas in collaboration with non-profit Sailors for the Sea, inspired by David Rockefeller Jr.’s work on the Pew Ocean Commission, the University of Washington’s Applied Physics Lab, and the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean. The 13-month effort, with planned stops in 30 host ports, will build awareness about ocean health on an international scale,

Through most of April and May, Ocean Watch will be conducting sea trials around Puget Sound to get ready for the difficult west to east transit of the Northwest Passage. With a permanent crew of four, led by world-record-holding two-time solo circumnavigator Mark Schrader and NW Passage Sailor David Thoreson, along with an onboard educator and scientist, the steel-hulled, newly outfitted boat will be conducting a variety of ocean science research projects during the voyage. The sea trials will give the crew their first opportunity to work with the scientific equipment installed on board. Measurements and observations to be recorded during the voyage include sea ice coverage, seawater chemistry (including measurements of salinity, temperature, pH), aerosols, and cloud cover.

Noted conservationist David Rockefeller, Jr. said today, “Individuals can play an important role in protecting and improving the health of our oceans, whether they live in a seaside town or in the Midwest or the pampas. We need to mobilize the citizens of the Americas to take action to protect our fragile oceans. Our life on land is dependent on the health of our seas. It is this message that is being carried on Ocean Watch around the Americas.”

This multi-million dollar Around the Americas awareness effort has currently received major support from the Tiffany & Co. Foundation, the Osberg Family Foundation, and more.

Fundraising efforts are continuing and tax deductible donations in the name of Around the Americas can be sent to Pacific Science Center, 200 Second Avenue North, Seattle, WA 98109-4895 or Sailors for the Sea, 56 Commercial Wharf East
Boston, MA 02110

Friday, February 13, 2009

Stimulus is Good Green Environmental News

Those in the know are saying positive things about buried environmental news in the stimulus bill. Let's hope they are right.

"It's rare for a compromise to make a bill better, but that's what happened yesterday," said Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters. "According to the reports we've seen, the members of the Conference Committee kept the best aspects of the House and Senate versions of the bill. Tens of billions of dollars for clean energy, energy efficiency, public transportation, scientific research and a smart energy grid remain. Tens of billions set to be wasted on coal and other outdated energy sources were removed."

"This is a huge win, for our planet and for taxpayers who want stimulus funds to be invested wisely," said Friends of the Earth President Brent Blackwelder. "The bailout in question would have thrilled nuclear industry lobbyists but done virtually nothing to stimulate the economy. Congressional leaders did the right thing and prevented waste by removing this bailout."

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

University of Miami Rosenstiel School-Speaking Feb.18

2009 Sea Secrets Speakers Announced

Sailing The Northwest Passage in
 The Era of Climate Change

Famed Filmmaker Examines “Chilling” Reality of Global Warming

VIRGINIA KEY, Fla. — The conquest of the Northwest Passage, a sea route through the Arctic Ocean, winding along the northernmost coast of the Americas, has baffled and intrigued explorers for centuries. Its treacherously frigid waters represent untold beauty and unparalleled economic access as one of the only free transit routes left in the world. The Artic pack ice has long left this route impassable, but now climate change has opened up previously frozen straits to a whole new era of explorers. February 18, join the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School as it welcomes David Thoreson, explorer and Blue Water Studios photographer and filmmaker as part of its 2009 Sea Secrets lecture series.

Thoreson will provide a perspective on polar exploration through his stunning photographs and tales of adventure, and share firsthand accounts on how climate change is shining new light on a mysterious northern wonder. The presentation will take place in the Rosenstiel School Auditorium, 4600 Rickenbacker Causeway, Virginia Key. The event includes a reception at 5:30 p.m., followed by the lecture at 6:00 p.m., and is free and open to the public.

Monday, February 9, 2009

2009 Expedition AtA

The Arctic continues a downward trend in sea ice. As the Around the Americas campaign kicks off from Seattle, May 31, for the Northwest Passage, this is one of the trends we will be taking a look at. I sailed the Passage in 2007 from east to west. Will the Passage again be open for a west to east transit? And what will be the conditions of the sea during the summer of 2009? Stay in touch through my website and follow the links as we embark on a 25,000 mile sail around the North and South American continents.

February 3, 2009
Ice extent continues to track below normal.
National Snow and Ice Data Center

As is typical during mid-winter, sea ice extent increased overall in January; maximum monthly extent is expected in March. However, January ice extent remained well below normal compared to the long-term record. Ice extent averaged for January 2009 is the sixth lowest January in the satellite record. Also of note is that from January 15 to 26, ice extent saw essentially no increase; an unusual wind pattern appears to have been the cause.

2008 year in review

Arctic sea ice in 2008 was notable for several reasons. The year continued the negative trend in summer sea ice extent, with the second-lowest summer minimum since record-keeping began in 1979. 2008 sea ice also showed well-below-average ice extents throughout the entire year.

The ice cover in 2008 began the year heavily influenced by the record-breaking 2007 melt season.

Ultimately, summer 2008 finished with the second-lowest minimum extent in the satellite record, 9% above the 2007 minimum and 34% below average. A more diffuse ice cover and a thinner pack nevertheless suggested a record-low ice volume (ice area multiplied by thickness) at the end of summer.