Monday, January 27, 2020

John L. Sorenson’s Winds and Currents – Part V

Continuing from the previous posts regarding John L. Sorenson’s article on the sailing of Nephi’s ship, the currents, winds, and course, and the many erroneous statements made.
• Sorenson: “When El Niño conditions prevail, warm surface water from the equatorial zone moves south down the coast of South America, upsetting many normal conditions. It is now known that the trouble begins with a slackening of the normal trade winds.
Response: Actually, what happens is that according to Scripps Institute of Oceanography, the wind usually blows strongly from east to west along the equator in the Pacific. This piles up water (about a foot and a half worth) in the western part of the Pacific. In the eastern part, deeper water (which is colder than the sun-warmed surface water) gets pulled up from below to replace the water pushed west. So, the normal situation is warm water (about 86º F) in the west, cold (about 72º F) in the east.
    In an El Niño, the winds pushing that water around gets weaker. As a result, some of the warm water piled up in the west slumps back down to the east, and not as much cold water gets pulled up from below. Both these tend to make the water in the eastern Pacific warmer, which is one of the hallmarks of an El Niño. This warmer ocean then affects the winds—it makes the winds weaker! So if the winds get weaker, then the ocean gets warmer, which makes the winds get weaker, which makes the ocean get warmer, which is called a positive feedback, and is what makes an El Niño grow.
When warm air piles up in the west, it flows downhill to the east during an El Niño period. Note the flow curves downward to South America where it suppresses the upwelling of cold water, and does not flow northward into Mesoamerica

This results in a Kelvin wave, which balances the Earth’s Coriolis force against a topographic boundary, such as a coastline or a waveguide, such as the equator. Since the Kelvin wave began in the western Pacific and moves crosswise over toward South America, in a sea level rise of a few centimeters higher than usual, it moves along the equator from Australia to South America. By the time this wave reaches the middle of the Pacific, it creates a Rossby, or planetary, wave that drifts slowly on the thermocline (point of warm and cold subsurface water) toward southeast Asia.
    After several months of traveling, the wave finally gets near the coast and reflects back. The changes in interior ocean temperature that these waves carry with it "cancel out" the original temperature changes that made the El Niño in the first place. The main point is that it shuts off when these interior-ocean waves travel all the way over to the coast of Asia, get reflected, and travel back, a process that can take many months. In between this time, the El Niño rages, upsetting the weather and conditions all along its path.
    To make sure we understand the severity of the path of an El Niño, such things as the occurrence of hurricanes and storms in unexpected areas, one year along recently, an El Niño resulted in 2100 deaths and $33 billion in damages. The path of an El Niño across the Pacific leaves many islands and population areas decimated from high waves, storms, winds, and torrential rains. As mentioned earlier, sailing during an El Niño is not recommended and all weather warnings suggest that boats find safe harborage during an El Niño.
• Sorenson: “This causes a strong easterly flow of water from the western Pacific all the way to South America. That is accompanied by unusual westerly winds in place of the trades. Under these conditions, travel from Melanesia to South America is quite feasible.”
The island chains of the South Pacific

Response: First of all, Melanesia consists of Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands and Fiji, a distance of 2400 miles. However, the distance from Papua New Guinea to Lima, Peru, on the coast of South America is 9,300 miles. There is a big difference involving currents and winds in island hopping in congested areas of numerous islands like in the western Pacific within Melanesia, to crossing thousands of miles of open ocean against currents and winds through Polynesia to South America. Finney further suggests that the same winds might bear a vessel virtually to the Americas.”
    What a current during the El Nino might do, or is feasible of doing, is always open to discussion, however, to-date, no one has tried this, especially in a drift voyage of a deep, ocean ship “driven forth before the wind.” While almost all scientists love to promote Malenesia to South American travel, none has ever been recorded—the famed Lapita pottery has not been found east of Samoa; however, in the opposite direction, the Sweet Potato has been found all the way to Melanesia.
• Sorenson: “Other combinations of winds and routes eastward are also possible, as Finney notes.”
From the islands to the Americas; Blue Arrows: Northern Route, called the Manilla Course to the early Spaniards; Yellow Arrows: Southern Route via the Southern Ocean

Response: Only two routes are possible to reach the Western Hemisphere, one via the Southern Ocean, which is the most direct and follows the seasonal trade winds and constant southerly winds all year long, and the other is the Kuroshio Current up past Japan and the Aleutians and down the coast of North America. With a ship “driven forth before the wind” to negotiate the variable currents past Baja California and Mexico and questionable, and certainly not past Central America. However, the fact still remains that to get from the Indian Ocean through Indonesia is not viable or possible for a wind-driven vessel, “driven forth before the wind.”
    It might be noted that when early Spanish ships sailed from the Americas to the Philippines, they could not return against the winds and currents that flowed westward in a counter-clockwise gyre; they had to sail westward around the world to get back to the Americas.
White Arrows: The Manila Galleon Route from the Philippines to Mexico; Dotted Blue Arrows: Early attempts to travel back from the Philippines to Mexico met with failure along the route taken to reach Manila

Not until 1565 AD could ships sail back across the Pacific, and that is only because Augustinian friar and navigator Andrñs de Urdaneta discovered the tornaviaje or return route from the Philippines to Mexico. This route was northward past Japan on the Kuroshio Current, along the Aleutians and down the west coast of North America to Acapulco—a route that lasted until 1815.
• Sorenson: “How long did the voyage take? From Tonga to the Marquesas is about 30 percent of the distance from the Bismarck Archipelago to Central America. Finney figures it could have taken about thirty days to sail this distance under El Niño conditions. Thus, the whole Pacific distance might be four or five times that, or, in other words, a little less than half a year.”
Response: It took Columbus one month and 6 days to cross from the Canary Islands to the Bahamas. Why would Lehi island hop if he did not have to do so? Each landing at an island and leaving again would have increased the danger, making a six month voyage across the Pacific would have made the trip extremely dangerous in and of itself. During El Nino, with the danger of tornadoes and hurricanes would have extended that danger. A trip down through the Southern Ocean and a fast track across the direct West Wind Drift and with the Prevailing Westerlies winds would have taken one-third that time, probably less.
• Sorenson: “the entire journey from Arabia to Central America might have taken from one to two years, depending on the route and time allowed to stop for food, water, and repairs.
Response: Two years? It took both Magellan and Drake less than three years to make their around the world tips, and that included much time in exploring the islands, as well as fighting, negotiating and socializing with the natives.
• Sorenson: “Of course, Nephi could not have explicitly planned such a voyage. He indicates that his group was guided by God through the Liahona (see 1 Nephi 18:12, 21-22). Divine knowledge of wind and sea conditions, within the range we now know to have existed, could indeed have permitted the successful crossing of two oceans—more than halfway around the earth—in a plausible period of time.”
Response: As we have written many times, the Lord knew of the Southern Ocean, a direct sailing across the Pacific Ocean at its narrowest point, with no obstructions to endanger their progress and no island-hopping involved. The quickness of such a voyage would have negated any repairs to the ship, added provisions or replenishment of supplies. Thor Heyerdahl, in his Kon-Tiki drift voyage of 4287 miles took 101 days (just over 3 months) and required no stop-over anywhere for resupplying or replenishment of food, yet they ate well and had plenty left over when they arrived in Polynesia.
As we have reported numerous times, a simple voyage south from Arabia, in the Winter monsoon trade winds into the Prevailing Westerlies and West Wind Drift through the Southern Ocean is the fastest and shortest way from Arabia to the Western Hemisphere. The Lord organized the world like this, obviously knew of its existence and path, and would have sent Lehi in that direction—the fact that it is the only way the winds blow a ship “driven forth before the wind” across the Pacific to the Americas should convince us of its course. It certainly would not have required the extensive experience of a mariner to negotiate the dangerous movement through the 17,500 islands of Indonesia against the winds in a ship “driven forth before the wind,” let alone island hopping, setting in from island to island through reefs, shoals, rock ledges, etc., that caused ancient ship’s captains to use a pilot to navigate such treacherous paths.
    Once again, it shows the fallacy of someone who draws a line on a map thinking it would be a good course when, in reality, Nephi’s “weather” ship could not possibly have gone in that direction because of opposing winds and currents.

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