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Rolex Supports the Exploration of Dormant Andean Volcano

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Rolex Supports the Exploration of Dormant Andean Volcano


Source Credit:  Content and images from SJX Watches by Sheng Lee.  Read the original article - https://watchesbysjx.com/2021/06/rolex-national-geographic-tupungato-volcano-expeditions.html

Amongst the projects to tackle climate change that are being supported by Rolex is the scientific expedition to ascend Tupungato, a dormant volcano that’s one of the highest mountains in Americas that sits on the border of Chile and Argentina.

Led by National Geographic and backed by the Chilean government, the expedition team embarked on a 15-day trek up Tupungato, installing a weather station just below the summit – 6,505 m above sea level – that’s the highest installation in the Southern and Western Hemispheres.

The purpose of the expedition is, of course, not to explore the uncharted; such endeavours had their heyday in the postwar era, with Rolex keeping time for many of time. Instead the watchmaker supports scientists and conservationists on expeditions that aid understanding of climate change and its effects – all of which are part of the Perpetual Planet initative.

National Geographic

A pillar of the Perpetual Planet program is Rolex’s partnership with National Geographic, the well-known magazine of National Geographic Society, a non-for-profit scientific organisation. The two strives to understand the impact of climate change, through carrying out expeditions and field research, harnessing data from crucial but harsh locations.

The first program under the tie-up occurred in 2019, when a team travelled to the Balcony station of Mount Everest to set up the highest weather station in the world – at 8,430 m above sea level. The system is capable of monitoring high-altitude wind streams, but more crucially the water sources of Hindu Kush-Himalaya, which supply more than a billion people downstream.

The Everest Expedition is first of a series of expeditions to explore high-mountain water towers – well documented by National Geographic here (NG 2 – Everest)– as team is now moving from Himalaya to the Andes mountain range. But first, what are water towers?

The Everest Expedition in 2019

Rising uncertainties

A stop in Earth’s water cycle, natural water towers collect and store fresh waters on mountain tops, supplying the people – a large amount – that live in lower elevation.

With glaciers and ice caps containing around 70% of the world’s fresh water, half of the world’s population depends on water flowing mountains. In fact, the Hinku-Kush Himalaya mountains provide for around two billion people, or 20% of the world’s population, water for daily usage and other industrial activities. That is in stark contrast with just 1% of total fresh water that’s readily available in the form of surface water, such as those in lakes and rivers.

But a growing population means increasing demand from downstream, exacerbating geopolitical conflicts. At the same time, global warming occurs much faster in high mountains than other regions. Climate change results in changes in the timing and rate of precipitation of snow as well as melting of glaciers, which means the water cycle become more unpredictable. In other words, these water towers “are in troubles”. (NG 1 – water towers)

But not enough real-time data is gathered from around the clouds – literally – giving rise to the necessity of installing high-altitude weather stations.

Research shows that some of the most vulnerable water towers are in Asia and South America, making the Hindu-Kush Himalaya water tower a reasonable first stop for the National Geographic team to install a tracker. Now the team has moved to South America, setting up a second tracker on the Tupungato Volcano, which sits on the Andes mountain range.

The explorers

The Tupungato Volcano is part of the Sounthern Andes water tower, which supplies fresh water for more than 6 million people around Santiago, Chile. On top of a high demand, the region has been facing the most serious drought in the last century. According to Tom Matthews, a climate scientist that also joined the Everest Expedition two years ago, global warming accelerates the rate of glacier retreats, which means declining fresh water sources over time. (NG3 – volcano)

That intensifies the need of better meteorological data – especially at the the top of the mountain – for better prediction of hydrological activities as well as initiating mitigations. As such, the National Geographic scientists and explorers, with the help of local government as well as the financial aid from Rolex, carried out a 15-day mission to install a weather station just below the summit go Tupungato Volcano, at 6505 m above sea level.

The team was led by two scientists, one of which is Dr Baker Perry, a professor at Appalachian State University and a National Geographic Explorer that also led the Everest Expedition in 2019. Another team-lead was Dr Gino Casssa, who is a National Geographic Explorer that’s also the the Head of the Glaciology and Snow Unit of the Chile Ministry of Public Works.

Dr Baker Perry, with a Rolex Explorer II on wrist

Notably, though made of light-weight aluminium, the weather station is robustly engineered to withstand wind speed over 320 km per hour. The new weather station collects data such as temperature, wind speed, and snowfall, which add up to provide a clearer image of climate change, informing decision making of officials.

For more, visit rolex.org.

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Source Credit:  Content and images from SJX Watches by Sheng Lee.  Read the original article - https://watchesbysjx.com/2021/06/rolex-national-geographic-tupungato-volcano-expeditions.html


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