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Ollie's Crucial COntribution to World OCean Day

As an offshore sailor, Ollie spends much of his time on the ocean. Even in his relatively short career, he has witnessed changes at sea.


“I have seen first-hand that some of our oceans are in a dire state of health and we need to do something about it. But to do something we first need to understand it. And that is where we come in. It is very important to me that we play our part and I am very proud of our sustainability programme.

 

“I carry on board a state-of-the art ocean sensor which constantly measures and records several variables in the water, which we supply to various scientists to help the study of ocean health and climate science.


“At the moment there are only 3 IMOCA’s which carry such instruments and sensors, but I hope this will increase.” - Ollie


The Ocean Sensor Box:


Ollie's ocean sensor (pictured above) monitors 5 key data points:

  • Water temperature

  • Atmospheric pressure

  • Chlorophyll

  • Salinity

  • CO2 concentration


The sea-water passes through a de-bubbler to remove any air, then through various sensors which are regularly calibrated. The water is then ejected back into the sea, so Ollie doesn't have to carry samples on board.


The data is shown live on a monitoring screen so Ollie can check it is working. The results along with date, time and exact GPS co-ordinates can be sent live via satellite back to the scientists, or saved on a memory stick for manual transfer.


The data is then checked and validated by the scientists before being shared on a global database, to be used by Climate Scientists around the world to improve their study, models and predictions around Ocean Health.


Collecting Data Across Oceans

An example extract can be seen below, from Ollie's track on The Transat CIC race earlier this year. (Kindly provided by Stefan Raimund, ETH Zurich)


Ollie is currently sailing in a race called the New York Vendée, an Atlantic Ocean crossing from New York to France. This race has been characterised by extremely unusual weather. Usually a fast, downwind race, this year the skippers have been baffled by huge areas of no wind and upwind conditions.


The weather predictions have been unreliable, and the weather has been a mix of areas of calm interrupted with severe squalls. Instead of the wind blowing consistently in one direction, it swirls around, ranging between 0.5 to 30 knots – for a sailor this is extremely challenging to sail in.


A Crucial Contribution 

Professor Nicholas Gruber from the Environmental Physics faculty at ETH Zurich University observes: “The unusual weather conditions that Ollie is experiencing right now are closely connected to unusual conditions in the ocean carbon sink. Sea temperatures in the North Atlantic are still outside the range of anything we have recorded in the past 50 years.  


"This is why the readings and measurements that Ollie is making are so crucial to us”.



Ollie’s data collection programme is managed and funded by the Swiss Polar Institute in collaboration with three leading Swiss universities, ETH Zurich, Lausanne and Bern.

Sustainability is a core part of our campaign and we are extremely proud to play our part in helping look after our planet.


For more information on our other sustainability initiatives, please visit www.oliverheer.com/sustainability





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