Around the Americas
NOAA's Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research
NOAA's National Ocean Service
Pacific Science Center
Library of Congress
Office of Naval Research
NOAA - Second Wind Films
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio
MIT Sea Grant
Throughout history, explorers have sailed the ocean to discover new things about the world in which we live.
Today, a new group of explorers is embarking on a journey of scientific discovery that has never before been completed in a continuous fashion.
The Around the Americas voyage is a 25,000-mile circumnavigation of the North and South American continents. The mission is simple: to raise awareness about the health of the ocean and to show how changes are impacting various ecosystems and human life.
The 13-month voyage began in June 2009 aboard a 64-foot sailing vessel named Ocean Watch. The crew will be collecting "datasets of opportunity," which means that their scientific instruments will be used when opportunities present themselves throughout the trip.
Some of the planned projects on-board include a survey of jellyfish in coastal waters and recordings of marine mammal sounds. Data will be collected on how dust, smoke, and moisture in the atmosphere affects sunlight reaching the earth - something not routinely tested at sea. The crew will also gather information on conditions in the Arctic by deploying high-tech buoys. These buoys measure air pressure and sea surface temperature, and their location can be tracked by satellite to provide information on ice movement. Other data being collected will help scientists learn how much ocean waters are heating because of the sun.
The most important tool to raise awareness of climate change is the plotted route of the trip itself. Not so long ago, the Northwest Passage did not exist as open water. It is only the warming of the Arctic, and the declining summer ice, that even make the journey possible.
With 31 ports of call for public open houses, and a website full of pictures and field reports, you too can become a part of this historic voyage around the Americas.