A severe storm in the Indian Ocean has affected several participants in the Golden Globe Race. 14-meter high waves destroyed the mast of Abhilash Tomy’s yacht, Thuriya, and left him immobilized with severe injuries.
Rescue efforts commenced on Saturday when Tomy sent out satellite text messages, “Can’t walk. Might need stretcher.” As well as, “Can move toes. Feel numb. Can’t eat or drink. Tough 2 reach grab bag.”
A multi-national rescue mission was coordinated, including rescue efforts from Australia, India, and France. The French fishing vessel, Osiris, reached Tomy first, approximately 3,300km from Perth, Australia. “He is conscious and safe. Rescue efforts were delayed because of 8-to-10-meter-high waves and heavy winds,” a spokesperson for the Indian Navy said. Tomy was rescued from his yacht on a stretcher, and is now being transferred to Mauritius, where he will receive further medical attention.
The Golden Globe Race is a non-stop, around-the-world, sailing race, where competitors are limited to sailing without modern technology or satellite navigation aids. The race started on July 1st, 2018, and is expected to take the winning yacht around 260 days to complete.
In 2013, Abhilash Tomy became the first Indian to circumnavigate the globe solo. His name appears on the Joshua Slocum Society International, a list honoring long-distance sailors for impressive solo sea voyages.
Tomy is one of 18 competitors who entered the 2018 Golden Globe Race. He was sitting in 3rd place before the storm hit and rolled his yacht 360 degrees, dismantling the mast and leaving him injured.
Cover photo: PPL Photo Agency – Copyright free for editorial use only
Photo Credit: Christophe Favreau/PPL/GGR
***2018 Golden Globe Race. Commander Abhilash Tomy his Suhaili replica yacht THURIYA , photographed off Lanzarote, Canaries during the compulsory film drop off Marina Rubicon on 16th June 2018.
The yacht was rolled and dismasted in the South Indian Ocean (1,900 miles SW of Perth, Australia) on 21st September and a full rescue organised by the Australian Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Canberra to repatriate the inured solo sailor.
Scientists have long been concerned about the potential collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and its contribution to global sea-level rise. Much of West Antarctica’s ice lies below sea level, and warming ocean temperatures may lead to runaway ice sheet retreat.
Although the Amundsen Sea region has shown the most rapid changes to date, more ice actually drains from West Antarctica via the Ross Ice Shelf than any other area. How this ice sheet responds to climate change in the Ross Sea region is, therefore, a key factor in Antarctica’s contribution to global sea-level rise in the future.
Periods of past ice sheet retreat can give us insights into how sensitive the Ross Sea region is to changes in ocean and air temperatures. Our research, published today, argues that ocean warming was a key driver of glacial retreat since the last ice age in the Ross Sea. This suggests that the Ross Ice Shelf is highly sensitive to changes in the ocean.
History of the Ross Sea
Since the last ice age, the ice sheet retreated more than 1,000km in the Ross Sea region – more than any other region on the continent. But there is little consensus among the scientific community about how much climate and the ocean have contributed to this retreat.
Much of what we know about the past ice sheet retreat in the Ross Sea comes from rock samples found in the Transantarctic Mountains. Dating techniques allow scientists to determine when these rocks were exposed to the surface as the ice around them retreated. These rock samples, which were collected far from where the initial ice retreat took place, have generally led to interpretations in which the ice sheet retreat happened much later than, and independently of, the rise in air and ocean temperatures following the last ice age.
To investigate how sensitive this region was to past changes, we developed a regional model of the Antarctic ice sheet. The model works by simulating the physics of the ice sheet and its response to changes in ocean and air temperatures. The simulations are then compared to geological records to check accuracy.
Our main findings are that warming of the ocean and atmosphere were the main causes of the major glacial retreat that took place in the Ross Sea region since the last ice age. But the dominance of these two controls in influencing the ice sheet evolved through time. Although air temperatures influenced the timing of the initial ice sheet retreat, ocean warming became the main driver due to melting of the Ross Ice Shelf from below, similar to what is currently observed in the Amundsen Sea.
Understanding processes that were important in the past allows us to improve and validate our model, which in turn gives us confidence in our future projections. Through its history, the ice sheet in the Ross Sea has been sensitive to changes in ocean and air temperatures. Currently, ocean warming underneath the Ross Ice Shelf is the main concern, given its potential to cause melting from below.
Challenges remain in determining exactly how ocean temperatures will change underneath the Ross Ice Shelf in the coming decades. This will depend on changes to patterns of ocean circulation, with complex interactions and feedback between sea ice, surface winds and melt water from the ice sheet.
Given the sensitivity of ice shelves to ocean warming, we need an integrated modelling approach that can accurately reproduce both the ocean circulation and dynamics of the ice sheet. But the computational cost is high.
Ultimately, these integrated projections of the Southern Ocean and Antarctic ice sheet will help policymakers and communities to develop meaningful adaptation strategies for cities and coastal infrastructure exposed to the risk of rising seas.
Cover photo: Since the last ice age, the ice sheet retreated over a thousand kilometres in the Ross Sea region, more than any other region on the continent. Rich Jones, CC BY-ND
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