The Green Team: competing in the Californian desert
In the Wild West

After weeks of training, Awena, Grace and Soizic have just two flights and one big ocean between them and their dream of taking part in the Raid Amazones. There they will compete with 255 other women and highlight the effects of climate change. In the Californian desert they will face the greatest sporting challenge of their lives. As “Team 71” they will also be up against the heat and extreme dryness of the region.

At the Raid Amazones, the athletes will experience California’s unique nature first-hand. They will take in breathtaking sunrises, paddle across lakes and run through the desert. These moments are precious, and not only for the “Amazons”: the landscape providing the backdrop to their journey is also under threat. California is battling with the effects of climate change.

Permanent drought

The extreme dry spell that hung over California from 2012 to 2014 was the most relentless of the last 1,200 years. Experts fear that these conditions could persist in the region.

Receding reserves

Around a third of the water used by California’s cities and farms comes from the snow reservoirs in the high mountain region. As a result of climate change, half of this reserve is expected to melt by 2100.

Fierce forest fires

The dry and hot climate poses an increasing threat of forest fires. In the western parts of the US, severe fires now take hold up to 75 per cent more often than in the 1970s.

Waning water levels

During periods of drought, the residents of California depend on groundwater resources, however these resources are in dramatic decline. Between 2004 and 2014 in the west of the US, the Colorado River Basin alone lost around 65 cubic kilometres of water – more than 1.3 times the volume of Lake Constance.

Photos: Grace Séguret