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Drake Passage and “The Impossible Row” project

  • Category
    Geography
  • Published
    8th Jan, 2020

In a first, six rowers from four countries crossed the Drake Passage, in just under two weeks after pushing off from the southern tip of South America.

Context

In a first, six rowers from four countries crossed the Drake Passage, in just under two weeks after pushing off from the southern tip of South America.

About

  • The Passage is located between Cape Horn at the tip of South America and the Antarctic Peninsula.
  • This is the first completely human-powered crossing of the passage.
  • The project was dubbed “The Impossible Row”, for which the team departed from Cape Horn in Chile and arrived at Primavera Base on San Martin Land on the Antarctic Peninsula.

What is the Drake Passage?

  • The passage is named after Sir Francis Drake, who was the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe.
  • The passage has an average depth of about 11,000 feet, with deeper regions going up to over 15,600 feet near the northern and southern boundaries.

Why is it considered so treacherous?

  • The Drake Passage is considered one of the roughest waterways in the world because here, layers of cold seawater from the south and warm seawater from the north collide to form powerful eddies, which when combined with strong winds and storms can be treacherous for those attempting to navigate it.
  • It is also the narrowest stretch in the Southern Ocean and spans approximately 800 km between the southern tip of South America and the northern tip of the West Antarctic Peninsula.
  • NASA describes the waters of the passage as “notoriously turbulent, unpredictable, and frequented by icebergs and sea ice.


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