Sea Kayak Adventure Group

Ocean Litereacy International (Hong Kong)

Cool day paddling in Hong Kong

cold weather paddling

Is there really such as thing as cold weather paddling in Hong Kong?

Hong Kong is in the sub-tropical zone, surrounded by ocean, so it means that we don’t really get cold days (maximum temp below 10 C). However, if you combine cool
temperatures (12 to 18 C) with a breeze and a water environment, you can easily get cold through what is referred to as the “wind chill effect” combined with being wet and cooled by evaporation.

What is “wind chill”?

Usually, when an object loses heat through convection— when a body loses heat to the colder temperature air around it — there’s a small layer of heat between the warm object and its cold surroundings.
But when it’s windy, the moving air breaks up this insulating layer. It speeds up heat loss by blowing away the warmth & increasing evaopration.

wind chill effect

Add evaporation and it gets colder!

So when we have wind blowing away heat, it is also blowing away evaporated water which cools us down more (it works the same way as sweating does), so on cooler days we have to wear appropriate clothing or we can get really cool (cold) really quick, even if the sun is shining.
But we need layers because things can change during the day. Read on!

Layering for Kayakers

Generally, dressing for paddling is similar to any other outdoor activity: you want to wear layers that can be added and removed throughout the day to adjust your clothing to the changing outdoor temperature. Most importantly, all clothing you choose should retain very little water if it gets wet; otherwise, you lose a tremendous amount of body heat warming the water in your clothes. For this reason, cotton clothes should be avoided at all costs.

The inner layer, or base layer, should consist of wicking synthetic fabrics like
polypropylene. This layer should draw sweat and moisture away from your skin and allow it to evaporate quickly. A thin base layer is best because a thick base layer will prevent you from adjusting to warmer temperatures. Even your underwear should be made of wicking fabric — it’s much more comfortable! A rash shirt or running shirt is perfect.

The second layer is for insulation, so it can consist of fleece, wool, or other insulating, non-absorbing materials. Again, one or two thin layers is ideal (unless it is very cold), because then you can more easily adjust to a variety of conditions.

The outer layer is for protection from the wind & spray (or rain). Here you will choose a lightweight spray (rain) jacket, or whatever you need to avoid the rain, sun, wind, spray, surf, and anything else that comes your way. 

Remember, if you are in a sea kayak, your lower body will be warm

It is important to understand the difference between paddling a sea kayak and a ‘sit-on-top’ (SOT) kayak on cool days. You will be much more exposed on a SOT!

Sitting in a sea kayak your lower body will be protected from both wind chill and evaporation, so you will only need upper body protection.

On a sit-on-top you will also need a light weight, non cotton pair of leggings that reduce
wind chill and evaporation.

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Outer layer (top layer) to protect from wind and moisture (spray, fog or rain).

wterproof paddling jacket
rain proof shell
waterproof shell

Middle layer to provide insulation from the cold outer layer. A light fleece is perfect.

middle insulation layer
middle insulation layer
middle insulation layer

Bottom layer to keep water away from your skin and insulate further. Rash shirt etc

womens rashy
running shirt

NEVER WEAR COTTON on a cool or cold day. It holds water against your skin and cools you down via convection. All clothing on cool days is to be made of a wicking material that does not hold water against the skin. This stops cooling by evaporation.

Nov 8 Typhoon

november typhoon

We have a new typhoon brewing in the Pacific Ocean.
over the past 2 weeks we have seen a train of typhoons develop and track due west, across the Phillippines to Vietnam.
These typhoons are forming because the sea temperatures are so high after a very hot summer (the warmest on record) and the excess energy is being vented into the atmosphere.

The new typhoon developing now (as shown on the animated give below) will follow a different track.
The upper atmospheric jetstream has moved further north, effectively opening up a clear path for the typhoon to track closer to Hong Kong.

The current forecast is for it to come close to Hong Kong on Sunday Nov 8. This post will be updated each day for anyone planning a sea kayak trip around that time.

The image below is animated showing the forecast track over the coming week. If it does not play automatically, you may need to click it.

nov 8 typhoon

Scientists Warn: Nine Climate Tipping Points Now ‘Active’ – Could Threaten the Existence of Human Civilization

Global Warming Threatens Human Civilisation


NOVEMBER 30, 2019

More than half of the climate tipping points identified a decade ago are now “active,” a group of leading scientists have warned.

This threatens the loss of the Amazon rainforest and the great ice sheets of Antarctica and Greenland, which are currently undergoing measurable and unprecedented changes much earlier than expected.

This “cascade” of changes sparked by global warming could threaten the existence of human civilizations.

Evidence is mounting that these events are more likely and more interconnected than was previously thought, leading to a possible domino effect.


“We must admit that we have underestimated the risks of unleashing irreversible changes, where the planet self-amplifies global warming.” — Johan Rockström, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

In an article published in the journal Nature on November 27, 2019, the scientists call for urgent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to prevent key tipping points, warning of a worst-case scenario of a “hothouse,” less habitable planet.
“A decade ago we identified a suite of potential tipping points in the Earth system, now we see evidence that over half of them have been activated,” said lead author Professor Tim Lenton, director of the Global Systems Institute at the University of Exeter.

“The growing threat of rapid, irreversible changes means it is no longer responsible to wait and see. The situation is urgent and we need an emergency response.”

Co-author Johan Rockström, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, said: “It is not only human pressures on Earth that continue rising to unprecedented levels.
“It is also that as science advances, we must admit that we have underestimated the risks of unleashing irreversible changes, where the planet self-amplifies global warming. This is what we now start seeing, already at 1°C global warming.
“Scientifically, this provides strong evidence for declaring a state of planetary emergency, to unleash world action that accelerates the path towards a world that can continue evolving on a stable planet.”

In the commentary, the authors propose a formal way to calculate a planetary emergency as risk multiplied by urgency.  Tipping point risks are now much higher than earlier estimates, while urgency relates to how fast it takes to act to reduce risk.

Exiting the fossil fuel economy is unlikely before 2050, but with temperature already at 1.1°C above pre-industrial temperature, it is likely Earth will cross the 1.5°C guardrail by 2040. The authors conclude this alone defines an emergency.

Nine active tipping points:

Arctic sea ice
Greenland ice sheet
Boreal forests
Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation
Amazon rainforest
Warm-water corals
West Antarctic Ice Sheet
Parts of East Antarctica
The collapse of major ice sheets on Greenland, West Antarctica and part of East Antarctica would commit the world to around 10 meters of irreversible sea-level rise.

Reducing emissions could slow this process, allowing more time for low-lying populations to move.

The rainforests, permafrost, and boreal forests are examples of biosphere tipping points that if crossed result in the release of additional greenhouse gases amplifying warming.

Despite most countries having signed the Paris Agreement, pledging to keep global warming well below 2°C, current national emissions pledges — even if they are met — would lead to 3°C of warming.

Although future tipping points and the interplay between them is difficult to predict, the scientists argue: “If damaging tipping cascades can occur and a global tipping cannot be ruled out, then this is an existential threat to civilization.

“Scientifically, this provides strong evidence for declaring a state of planetary emergency.” — Johan Rockström

“No amount of economic cost-benefit analysis is going to help us. We need to change our approach to the climate problem.”

Professor Lenton added: “We might already have crossed the threshold for a cascade of inter-related tipping points.

“However, the rate at which they progress, and therefore the risk they pose, can be reduced by cutting our emissions.”

Though global temperatures have fluctuated over millions of years, the authors say humans are now “forcing the system,” with atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration and global temperature increasing at rates that are an order of magnitude higher than at the end of the last ice age.


Reference: “Climate tipping points — too risky to bet against: The growing threat of abrupt and irreversible climate changes must compel political and economic action on emissions.” by Timothy M. Lenton, Johan Rockström, Owen Gaffney, Stefan Rahmstorf, Katherine Richardson, Will Steffen and Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, 27 November 2019, Nature.
DOI: 10.1038/d41586-019-03595-0

The latest UN Climate Change Conference will take place in Madrid from December 2-13.