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River Science: Wind Speed

Mouse over to feel the wind in... Erin's hair.
The wind blows through Erin's hair.

Of all the weather phenomena our students study, the speed and direction of the wind have the most immediate effects on our ship. Not surprising, considered that the Half Moon is a sailing vessel! In 1609, Hudson's progress along the narrow river was often at the mercy of favorable winds.

On this voyage, we recorded wind speed as part of the Deck Log.

We use hand-held anemometers to accurately measure the wind's speed. As the wind blows through and spins an anemometer's fan, the electronic instrument records the wind's highest and average speeds.

When we study wind speed in depth for research projects, we often simultaneously compare wind speeds on deck and at the mast tops. Our findings during these experiments indicate that the wind is consistently stronger at higher elevations.

This would have come as no surprise to the shipwrights who constructed the original Half Moon in 1608; after all, top sails are designed specifically to harness those higher, more powerful gusts.

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