This study reports on the relationship between minute ventilation (VE) and environmental variables of temperature (T) and pressure (P) during open water diving. The author conducted a total of 38 dives involving either a light (20 dives) or a moderate (18 dives) level of physical activity. Within each of these groups, P and T taken together accounted for about two thirds of the variance in the VE data. A very significant increase in VE was observed as T decreased (1 < T(degrees C) < 22), and the magnitude of this increase at a given pressure level was similar in the 'light' and the 'moderate' data sets. A second order observation, particularly notable at lower temperature, was the decrease in VE with increasing pressure under conditions of light work. Empirical functions of the from VE = A+B/P n[1 + exp(T - 8)/10], where A, B, and n are adjustable variables, could accommodate both data sets over the whole range of T and P. These results are the first obtained under actual diving conditions to provide evidence for interactions between P, T, and VE. Understanding the physiological mechanisms by which these interactions occur would assist in appreciation of the limitations imposed on scuba divers by the environmental conditions as they affect their ventilatory responses.
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