The Volvo Ocean Race isn’t just a world-class sailing race around the planet – it’s an opportunity for innovation, exploration and scientific discovery.
As part of our renewed sustainability focus in 2017-18, we’ll use our race around the world to gather critical data on ocean health to contribute to scientific research and ocean health monitoring as part of a landmark Science Programme.
Made possible thanks to the support of Volvo Cars and a scientific consortium including NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), JCOMMOPS (UNESCO-IOC), GEOMAR and SubCtech, the Science Programme consists the following three areas:
All of the boats will send 36 data points back to Race Control at Race HQ in Alicante every 10 seconds. This information covers temperature, barometric pressure, wind strength and direction. This data will be passed on to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts.
This data will contribute to more accurate weather forecasts and climate models in order to better understand the weather tomorrow and climate change in the coming decades.
During the most isolated legs in the race, all seven boats will carry scientific-drifter buoys that will be launched in the most scientifically interesting areas along the route. These floating sensors are equipped with satellite communications equipment to transmit information on ocean composition and currents.
Selected boats will carry ground breaking instruments on board to test salinity, partial pressure of CO2, dissolved CO2 and Chlorophyll-a (algae) directly in the seawater around them. These key metrics for ocean health will be logged in addition to test trials for micro plastics in order to create a complete snapshot of the world's oceans. It’s believed that we only see 1% of the plastic in the ocean – so this is a key measurement, especially in the most remote oceans on the planet. Teams change filters at regular intervals, which are then sent back to the laboratory onshore to be tested. This experiment has already begun, with Turn the Tide on Plastic collecting data during Leg 1.
Volvo Cars will support the Science Programme by donating €100 from each of the first 3,000 sales of their new Volvo V90 Cross Country Ocean Race model.