Leg 1 | Lorient to Cascais

As part of our campaign in The Ocean Race Europe, the Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team is partnering with EarthSense air quality experts to capture valuable air quality data throughout the race via a Zephyr® air quality monitor, which is affixed on the deck of the team’s VO65 boat.

The data from the first leg of the race from Lorient, France to Cascais, Portugal has been collated and analyzed, and the full report is now available to download here. 

NO2 concentrations at sea were on average 10% lower compared to the marina at Lorient.

Key findings:

Concentrations of NO 2 rapidly reduced as the VO65 began the first leg of the Ocean Race Europe. Concentrations at sea were on average 10% lower than the marina. The clean ocean air is free of combustion sources, but due to the dominating easterly wind, elevated NO 2 was identified in the Bay of Biscay.

During summer months, NO 2 has a lifetime of up to 12 hours, meaning air may be polluted several kilometers from any sources.

The three forms from a chemical reaction with NO 2 and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) under sunlight. The O3 forms downwind from sources of NO 2 and VOCs and may last in the atmosphere for weeks.

Seawater is an important global player in removing O3 from the air, but it is much less effective than removing processes in terrestrial environments. Because of this, the zone concentrations are often found to be higher at sea.

Taking the whole dataset, CO 2 levels in the Bay of Biscay was much lower than in the Atlantic Ocean, which suggests meteorology is playing a greater role than the route of the race.

Freight and cargo ships are big emitters of harmful pollutants and greenhouse gases, producing trails along global shipping routes that are transported by regional winds, making clean air difficult to find even at sea.

The open water may Appear to be a pristine canvas of clean air, but around the waters of Europe, including the Bay of Biscay, periods of hotspot activity can be readily identified from Earthsense Zephyr ® mobile air pollution monitoring on board the Mirpuri Foundation’s VO65.

For more information, visit earthsense.co.uk

Photography: Martin Keruzoré.