In addition to going head-to-head against the best soccer players in the world, teams in the 2014 World Cup are also having to battle the elements.
The Scientific American takes a look at Brazil’s varied climates, and how they’re impacting players.
Brazil vs. England in a “friendly” in Rio de Janeiro. (Credit: Digo_Souza via Flickr)
When I read that the soccer balls used for World Cup games have been specially designed for the climate in Brazil, that got me wondering – which climate? Brazil has many different climates. And are the players ready for a wide range of climates too?
Technically it’s winter in the Southern Hemisphere, but that doesn’t stop the heat or humidity in a place like Manaus, Brazil, at the heart of the Amazon rainforest. During Saturday’s match between England and Italy it was a sweltering 90 degrees Fahrenheit. With over 80 percent humidity, the difference between air and water was slight.
But during Sunday’s match between France and Honduras, 2,000 miles away in Porto Alegre, Brazil, the temperature on the field only got up to 73 degrees. Humidity was much lower too – still high compared to many places, but much less humid than Manaus. In the evening, temperatures were chilly enough for a sweater.
Brazil is huge, spanning about 40 degrees of latitude, and includes ten different climates. Brazilians have peppered 12 soccer stadiums for the World Cup throughout many of these climates, providing the opportunity for players to move from hot and moist stadiums like the one in Manaus to cooler and drier stadiums like the one in Porto Alegre or even a hot and dry stadium like the one in Natal.
If you are watching World Cup games and predicting which teams will win matches, might I suggest that you take into account the climate where matches are played. You can do this with a map of regional climates like the one below. The map is no soothsaying octopus, but it can provide a good first guess at what types of weather soccer players will encounter around the country. Plus, you will be the envy of all other soccer fans if you watch each game with a colorful map in hand.