Later this year, Eliza Dawson plans to start her PhD in Atmospheric Science at the University of Washington.
But before that, a more challenging undertaking awaits her at sea.
Starting in June, Dawson and three women from the UK plan to row 2,400 miles across the Pacific Ocean from Monterey, California to Honolulu, Hawaii in a 24-foot boat.
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Several other elite teams have completed this trip in the past, and the all-time record is 39 days and 9 hours, according to Dawson’s blog. Her team is training to beat the current all-female crew team record of 50 days.
More importantly, the athletes want to raise awareness for climate change and the various problems affecting the world’s oceans.
“I want people to understand what our atmosphere is and why climate change is a threat,” Dawson wrote on her blog. “I also want people to understand what they can do about it.”
Through her voyage, she hopes to dispel misconceptions about climate change.
For one, climate change and global warming are two separate phenomena — global warming, when temperatures rise, drives climate change: the disruption of rain patterns, storm patterns, ecosystems, and much more.
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Without political action, climate change threatens to displace up to 2 billion people by the end of the century and wipe out the majority of the Earth’s biodiversity.
The rowers call themselves “Team Ripple Effect” because they want to catalyze political action with this isolated event.
“Earth is the only planet with a climate known to support life,” Dawson wrote on her blog. “Our unique planet is precious; meaning it should be of great value, not to be wasted or treated carelessly. Yet our protection is lacking. We need to do more and that is why I’m crossing an ocean.”
Dawson has a daily four-hour training regimen for the trip and is trying to raise $20,000 on her GoFundMe page to “get a boat, get necessary technology and safety equipment, take courses to prepare for the trip, and buy gear and food.”
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During the journey, the team will row 12 hours each day in 2-hour shifts, with members sleeping in between their rowing hours.
Dawson notes that each member will consume more than 6,000 calories per day to sustain energy levels. Even still, the rowers will lose an average of 19 pounds each throughout the trip.
Out in Port Townsend with @Row4Climate, who's training to row from California to Hawaii to raise awareness for climate change. #komonewspic.twitter.com/0M43uNXVcR— Mitch Pittman (@Mitch_Pittman) March 23, 2018
In total, all four women will row an estimated 1.3 million strokes, at a rate of 16-18 strokes per minute.
If all goes well, the team will arrive in Honolulu in under 50 days.
Throughout the journey, Dawson hopes to gather information on plastic pollution in the waters and better understand how the atmosphere interacts with the ocean.
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On her blog, she shares information about climate change, the Pacific Ocean, and what it takes to train for such a forbidding race.
“I’m really excited about this adventure because I’m both an avid athlete and a young aspiring scientist and I care a lot about our future,” Dawson told Komo News.
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