Magazine article Geographical

Fair Weather Anomaly Helped Historic Magellan Voyage

Magazine article Geographical

Fair Weather Anomaly Helped Historic Magellan Voyage

Article excerpt

Unseasonably good weather may have helped Ferdinand Magellan and his fleet complete the first successful circumnavigation of the globe between 1517 and 1522, according to new analysis of historical accounts by archaeologists.

In a paper published in the journal Science, Dr Richard Callaghan from the University of Calgary, Canada, and Dr Scott Fitzpatrick, from North Carolina State University, USA, assert that the pioneering course set by Magellan and his crew during an expedition to find a western route to the Spice Islands (now known as Maluku) was determined by the oceanographic conditions at the time, which they think may have been influenced by an El Nino event.

After navigating the archipelago on the southern tip of South America via a route now known as the Straits of Magellan, instead of being faced with severe weather associated with the region, the crew of the Armada de Moluccas found the conditions to be favourable. This, no doubt, influenced Magellan's name for the vast sea--Oceano Pacifico (Calm Ocean)--for this was the first time a European had sailed to the other side of the Americas via a westerly route.

The ongoing weather conditions may also have influenced Magellan's decision to sail north along South America's west coast, before turning northwest, crossing the equator and eventually sailing 2,400 kilometres north of his intended destination. …

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