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Posted by on Feb 27, 2009 in Awards, Environment, Sailboat Racing, UK, US |

Polar Melting, Rolex Watches

While icecaps lose density at the poles, Terry sheds a tear or two in Midtown.

I can’t say reading this surprised me, but it didn’t make me happy either. The preliminary findings of the International Polar Year survey, a massive multidisciplinary research program, “provides new evidence of the widespread effects of global warming in the polar regions. Snow and ice are declining in both regions, affecting human livelihoods as well as local plant and animal life in the Arctic, as well as global ocean and atmospheric circulation and sea level.”

Two scientists at work on one of 160 International Polar Year projects conducted in 2007-2008. Photo by Christian Maurel.

Two scientists at work on one of 160 International Polar Year projects conducted in 2007-2008. Christian Maurel photo.

Involving 160 scientific studies in 60 countries and thousands of scientists, this survey was also supported by indigenous peoples in Artic regions. The report covers much more than ice-melt rates, providing insight into biodiversity of the regions and large areas of stored methane gas, frozen by permafrost and now at risk of being released. Published yesterday by the World Meterological Organization and the International Council for Science, the report is available online.

On the plus side, at the WMO’s online art gallery, you can see some fantastic photos by Christian Morel of scientists at work on the ice and on the water. Science may not always be glamorous, but in these polar settings, it makes for some stunning photography.

The report’s publication was not without some controversy, which might be expected when so many scientists and so many countries commit their findings to writing. Climate-beat journalist Andy Revkin, reporter for the New York Times, picks up the thread of an argument over an “embers” chart at Dot Earth, the blog he writes on climate change issues.

Meantime, in Midtown Manhattan, the top American sailors of the year were feted at the New York Yacht Club. US SAILING and Rolex Watch USA anointed the selections of Terry Hutchinson, 40, and Anna Tunicliffe, 26, as the Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year, respectively, presenting them with specially engraved stainless-steel-and-platinum Rolex Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master watches.

Anna Tunnicliffe and Terry Hutchinson receive Rolex Yachtswoman and Yachtsman of the Year honors at the New York Yacht Club, accompanied by Peter Nicholson (left) of Rolex and Charlie Leighton of US SAILING (right). Dan Nerney photo

Anna Tunnicliffe and Terry Hutchinson receive Rolex Yachtswoman and Yachtsman of the Year honors at the New York Yacht Club, accompanied by Peter Nicholson (left) of Rolex Watch USA and Charlie Leighton of US SAILING (right). Dan Nerney photo

Selected by a panel of sailing journalists and editors, Anna won her award largely on the strength of her outstanding gold-medal performance at Qingdao in the Laser Radial class. Last year, Terry was, as usual, a winning tactician in the Farr 40 and several other classes, but he also skippered a TP52, arguably the most competitive professional class on earth last year, to first place at the class’s multi-event world championship held on the Mediterranean.

Gary Jobson emceed the presentations in New York and produced a video of today’s presentations on his website. Anna delivered a poised acceptance speech; Terry told a good story or two, but as the enormity of his accomplishment hit him, he shed a few tears, too. You can see it all at Gary’s website on the video link here, along with a few good bits of sailing footage, too. Well done, both sailors.

John Burnham