Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Barcelona World Race 2014-2015


BWR
: the greatest double handed ocean challenge 


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Nicaragua launches construction of inter-oceanic canal

The Chinese firm HKND has a contract to build the 173-mile long Nicaraguan Canal, which will connect Caribbean and the Pacific, and operate it for 50 years.

From BBC

Nicaragua has announced the start of work on a new canal linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

At an opening ceremony, Wang Jing, the president of HKND, the Chinese company building the canal, said this moment would go down in history.
The 278km (172 mile) waterway will be longer, deeper and wider than the Panama Canal.

But critics fear a negative environmental impact and doubt its viability and economic benefits.
The Grand Canal of Nicaragua, as it has been called, aims to rival Panama's waterway and lift the country out of poverty.

The opening ceremony was largely symbolic, as work began on an access road for machinery needed to build a port for the canal on Nicaragua's Pacific coast.
Nicaragua's Vice-President Omar Halleslevens said the canal would change the history and the economy of Nicaragua, one of Latin America's poorest countries.
"With this great canal, Nicaragua expects to move 5% of the world's commerce that moves by sea, which will bring great economic benefits and double the GDP (gross domestic product),'' said Mr Halleslevens.


Nicaragua Canal Project Overview image from HKND

Analysis: Arturo Wallace, BBC News, Nicaragua

There is a clear sense of expectation here, where the construction of a man made passage between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans designed to dwarf the Panama Canal has officially begun.

But there is also tension: over the past few weeks protests against the canal have increased.
And the authorities' decision to hold the main groundbreaking ceremony in Managua, some 120km away from where the waterway is to built, won't help convince the many sceptics who still doubt the project's viability.

The government claims that the project, awarded to a Hong Kong based international consortium, will finally lift the Western hemisphere's second poorest country out of poverty.

But many fear environmental damage may outweigh the economic benefit, or oppose the extremely generous terms offered to the Chinese investors.
Those who live on the projected route simply don't want to lose their land and livelihoods.

HKND says it expects the project to be finished within five years and operational by 2020, and to cost about $50bn (£32bn).
The project is to include two ports, an airport, a resort and an economic zone for electricity and other companies.

But some have questioned the canal's financial soundness and allege that Wang Jing lacks experience in developing or financing big infrastructure projects.
Opponents are also concerned about the impact construction may have on Lake Nicaragua and on poor communities in the area.
The route announced in July would pass through the lake, an important source of fresh water.
Environmentalists have warned of the risks of damming rivers and moving large amounts of soil. Communities along the route have staged protests.

Links :
  • The Guardian : Protests as Nicaragua starts work on $50bn interoceanic canal
  • The Conversation : Panama Canal rival: work starts in Nicaragua amid fears over environment and role of China 
  • GeoGarage blog : Nicaragua waterway to dwarf Panama canal 

Monday, December 29, 2014

US NOAA update in the Marine GeoGarage

As our public viewer is not yet available
(currently under construction, upgrading to a new viewer
as Google Maps API v2 is officially no more supported),
this info is primarily intended to our universal mobile application users
(Marine US iPhone-iPad on the Apple Store &
Weather 4D Android -App-in- on the PlayStore)
and also to our B2B customers which use our nautical charts layers
in their own webmapping applications through our GeoGarage API

 NOAA raster chart coverage

12 charts have been updated in the Marine GeoGarage
(NOAA update December 2014, released December 22th 2014)

  • 11401 ed32 Apalachicola Bay to Cape San Blas
  • 11406 ed14 St.Marks River and approaches
  • 11408 ed30 Crystal River to Horseshoe Point;Suwannee River;Cedar Keys
  • 12325 ed5 Navesink And Shrewsbury Rivers
  • 12331 ed33 Raritan Bay and Southern Part of Arthur Kill
  • 12374 ed15 North Shore of Long Island Sound Duck Island to Madison Reef
  • 13274 ed29 Portsmouth Harbor to Boston Harbor; Merrimack River Extension
  • 16305 ed11 Bristol Bay-Cape Newenham and Hagemeister Strait
  • 17407 ed16 Northern part of Tlevak Strait and Uloa Channel
  • 17408 ed9 Central Dall Island and vicinity
  • 17409 ed11 Southern Dall Island and vicinity
  • 17431 ed12 N. end of Cordova Bay and Hetta Inlet
Today 1026 NOAA raster charts (2168 including sub-charts) are included in the Marine GeoGarage viewer (see PDFs files)


How do you know if you need a new nautical chart?
See the changes in new chart editions.
NOAA chart dates of recent Print on Demand editions

Note : NOAA updates their nautical charts with corrections published in:
  • U.S. Coast Guard Local Notices to Mariners (LNMs),
  • National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Notices to Mariners (NMs), and
  • Canadian Coast Guard Notices to Mariners (CNMs)
While information provided by this Web site is intended to provide updated nautical charts, it must not be used as a substitute for the United States Coast Guard, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, or Canadian Coast Guard Notice to Mariner publications

Please visit the
NOAA's chart update service for more info or the online chart catalog

Tsunami-hit nations mark anniversary

 Significant advances have been made in tsunami detection and forecasting
since the Great Indian Ocean (Sumatra) Tsunami of 2004. 

From BBC

A decade ago, one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded struck off the coast of Indonesia, triggering a tsunami that swept away entire communities around the Indian Ocean.
About 228,000 people were killed as a result of the 9.1 magnitude quake and the giant waves that slammed into coastlines on 26 December 2004.
The violent upward thrust of the ocean floor at 07:58 local time (00:58 GMT) displaced billions of tonnes of seawater, which then raced towards shorelines at terrifying speeds.
The waves stripped vegetation from mountain sides hundreds of metres inland, capsized freighters and threw boats into trees. The estimated cost of the damage was just under $10bn (£6.4bn).
Ten years on, many coastal towns and villages have rebuilt their communities and lives. The shores of Indonesia and Thailand, left ravaged by the tsunami, appear transformed.


How the wave spread: 26 December 2004
After the quake struck, the resulting tsunami radiated across the Indian Ocean, from Indonesia to Sri Lanka and beyond.
Sequence of graphics showing the spread of the 2004 Asian tsunami
Sequence of graphics showing the spread of the 2004 Asian tsunami

The quake ruptured the greatest fault length of any recorded, spanning a distance of an estimated 1,500km (900 miles) - longer than the US state of California.
The rupture started beneath the quake's epicentre and progressed northward along the fault at about 2km/sec (1.2 miles/second) - lasting about 10 minutes - according to the Tectonics Observatory at the California Institute of Technology.
The length of the rupture meant that the waves reached a wider geographical area - as far afield as Mexico, Chile, and the Arctic.
The waves travelled at speeds of up to 800km/h (500mph).

Map showing the arrival time of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami waves

Computer modelling after the tsunami, estimated that waves had reached a height of almost 20m (65ft) in some areas.

Map showing the wave height of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami

However, scientists investigating damage in Aceh, Indonesia found subsequent evidence that waves had reached 20-30m (65-100ft) in places.
Despite there being several hours between the earthquake and the impact of the tsunami, nearly all the victims were taken completely by surprise. With no adequate warning systems in place, there was no alert issued to people to seek safety.
In the aftermath of the disaster, the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System was formed to detect seismological changes and provide warnings of approaching waves.
However, on the 10th anniversary of the disaster, risk experts and UN officials have warned weaknesses remain in the system, particularly regarding the communication of warnings at local level.

Links :
  • National Geographic : Will Indonesia be ready for the next tsunami? 
  • LiveScience : Tsunami science: Advances since the 2004 Indian ocean tragedy
  • WSJ : Tsunami’s legacy: Quest for early warning

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Surf sailing

Visit Finland, an entry in the Clipper Race, surfs down at wave at 27 knots.
Heading toward the Race 9 finish line in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race in 2012, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Finnish team experience a huge surf after crossing the Pacific Ocean spending 30 days at sea in the race from Qingdao, China to Oakland, San Francisco Bay.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

BAR Nacra 20 training


You will want to watch it, and you'll want to watch it right to the end, because someone is taking 'It's Time to Fly' WAY too seriously.
The question is... who?
Take a look at the BAR team in training on the foiling Nacra F20.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race : who knows what danger lurks at sea?


 CYCA celebrating the 70th edition in 2014

From NYTimes by Christopher Clarey

It is not just the wind and the waves that can play nasty tricks on an ocean-racing yacht.
There is also what lies beneath.
The latest reminder of this fact came earlier this month when the Volvo Ocean Race entry Team Vestas Wind struck something in a remote stretch of the Indian Ocean northeast of Mauritius.
“I assumed at that point we had hit a container or a whale, and in about 10 seconds or so there was all this crashing and grinding,” said Brian Carlin, the crew’s on-board reporter.
In fact, while moving at about 20 knots the boat had run aground on a reef, allegedly as a result of a navigational error.
The incident left a stranded, significantly damaged $6 million yacht and a crew of nine badly shaken but ultimately very fortunate sailors who had to abandon ship and await rescue.

The crew of Team Vestas Wind with their boat after it ran into a coral reef near Mauritius in early December.
From whales and giant sunfish to oil drums and plastic debris, numerous possible hazards to the big ocean racers’ chances and safety abound beneath the surface of the sea. 
Brian Carlin/Team Vestas Wind/Volvo Ocean Race, via Getty Images

The Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, which begins in Sydney Harbor as usual on Dec. 26, will not travel through any part of the planet that is nearly so isolated as that.
The race is in its 70th year, and the knowledge and the charts of its route are extensive.
But there are hazards below the surface all the same.
In 2012, a Reichel Pugh 51 named Secret Men’s Business hit what was believed to be a whale.
The boat went from 20 knots to a dead stop in an instant and it was flung on its side, with the mast nearly touching the water.
The bottom section of the rudder was sheared off, although the crew did find a way to finish the race.

 Sydney-Hobart overview nautical chart with the Marine GeoGarage

Many other types of vessels are also involved in whale or shark collisions, according the International Whaling Commission.
In fact, according to the commission’s data, the highest number of collisions come from whale-watching vessels.
Overall, the commission reported, a quarter of all recorded collisions lead to the death of the whale, and many result in injuries.
In the Hobart race, Slow-moving ocean sunfish, with an average adult weight of about 1,000 kilograms, or 2,200 pounds, are another problem.
Although they spend much of their lives at considerable depth, the sunfish sometimes bask near the surface, where they can be hard to spot from a fast-moving ocean racer.

Mark Richards, the skipper of the supermaxi Wild Oats XI, said the boat had three separate collisions with sunfish in 2005, one of the years in which it took Hobart line honors.
Other sailors have been forced to retire their yachts from the race after such collisions.
“The sunfish are a large threat because they don’t move, and they are so huge that they always pose a risk,” said Sean Langman, a veteran Australian skipper.
“With the climactic changes, we don’t seem to be seeing as many as we used to, but they are still a threat.”
Langman added that a collision with a shark during the 1999 race sheered off a rudder.
Unlike with sunfish, he said that climate change appeared to have increased the threat posed by whales.
“Even though we’re approaching our summer and most of the sea life has migrated south, there were so many whales around Australia when I brought the boat from Tasmania last month,” he said.
“So now other than the sunfish and the sharks, you also have the added risk of whales.”

Will Oxley, an Australian marine biologist and navigator, has been a regular participant in the Hobart and is now the navigator for the Volvo Ocean Race team Alvimedica. 
Before the race began in October in Spain, he sounded a cautionary note that proved prescient about coral reefs that are “quite poorly charted.”
“I can’t really speak to what actually happened on board Vestas, but for us, obviously this is a part of the ocean where there’s only been one previous race, and so there is no history to refer to,” he said in a telephone interview from Abu Dhabi last week.
“So in that respect, while of course it is charted, it’s uncharted territory for a yacht race. We were making sure we were going to avoid the shoals successfully when we got the call that Vestas had actually hit it. It’s a terrible thing. They were very lucky to get away without loss of life.”
But Oxley, who has taken part in the last three Volvo Races and whose first circumnavigation was in 2001, emphasized that the hazards now often are found much closer to and are a result of civilization.
“Historically, the Volvo Ocean Race spent the majority of time racing in very isolated places, with albatrosses and icebergs,” he said.
“Now many of the areas we’re going into, we are dealing with a lot more fishing nets and flotsam from the human population. On the last leg, 44-gallon drums were floating in the ocean — the standard gas drum that you find anywhere in the world, but when you get out there, an industrial-sized drum, half full of oil, can do massive damage to your boat.”


Near the coast of Oman, meanwhile, drift nets were a main concern.
“If you happen to be unlucky enough to encounter the middle of a net without warning, then avoiding it may be impossible and apart from the damage they can cause, you can easily get tangled up and have to send a person into the water to clear yourself,” Oxley said.
“We ran into two on this last leg and luckily for us the diameter of the rope on the headline was small enough that the velocity and momentum of the boat broke it. However, understandably, the fisherman in his small boat is not happy about his net.”
“We do our very best to avoid them,” he added, “but at this scale of fishing, the boats — and I use that term lightly — are very small and do not show up on radar. They also do not tend to display navigation lights. The first indication of them is a little hurricane lamp or torch that comes on and starts flashing wildly, and we have no indication from that light which direction we need to head to avoid the invisible net.”

Follow seven international teams as they race 38,739 nautical miles around the world in the 12th edition of the Volvo Ocean Race.
Along with being the foremost offshore sailing competition, the race reminds us about the vastness of our Oceans and what it means to be a modern day explorer.

One of the tools Oxley and Alvimedica have deployed is a night-vision scope that allows them to look ahead and avoid obstacles.
But there is clearly an element of luck involved.
In 2003, the French sailor Olivier de Kersauson and his crew, who were participating in the round-the-world Jules Verne Trophy, said that a giant squid had affixed itself to their yacht, bringing it to a halt in the open ocean before the creature then released it.

Perpetual Loyal, Wild Oats XI and Comanche - SOLAS Big Boat Challenge 2014

“Honestly, whether we’re sailing big multihulls or these supermaxis going incredibly fast speeds, you just go sort of on faith that the odds are in your favor, and sleep with your feet facing forward,” said Peter Isler, an American who is the navigator for the supermaxi Rio 100 in this Hobart.
“Whether you are racing to Hawaii or across the Irish Sea or down in the Bass Strait, you are just going for it,” he added.
“It’s not like in the Southern Ocean, where you are watching for icebergs on radar. There are some things you can’t avoid in the ocean, and you just pray that you do. It may not be the greatest thing to talk about for our sport, but the sad truth is boats do run into stuff. In the last five years, we’ve hit a couple of whales and a shark. It’s sad. These boats go so fast and don’t make any noise. But the things you worry about the most are big, hard things.”
That means things like partially submerged containers that have fallen off ships.
Or things like floating railroad ties or beams.
Or things like a coral reef in the Indian Ocean in the middle of the night.

Links :
  • GQ : The Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race: 10 things you need to know

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Dolphin dance project


The Dolphin Dance Project produces films about communication between humans and wild dolphins through dance.
The Dolphin Dance Project works only with wild dolphins.
Dolphins are not rewarded or coerced by anything other than their own curiosity and joy to interact with intelligent, playful members of another species - just like the human dancer.
Recognizing that we are guests in the dolphins' environment, the filmmakers followed a strict code of etiquette.
There is never any attempt to interact if dolphins are resting or show any sign of annoyance or disinterest.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Sedna


Long time ago, a young woman of extraordinary beauty was forced by her father to marry a bad shaman who took her on an island, far from her home.
Unhappy and never ceasing to cry, she eventually succeeds to soften her father who came to remove her in secret.
But when they fled by boat, the shaman realized it and unleashed a terrible storm.
The father threw his daughter overboard and she disappeared in the depths of the oceans...
And so begins the story of Sedna, goddess of Greenlandic waters, where is sailing the boat "La Louise" with a crew of skiers from France and Switzerland.
But gradually, as the days pass, they will realize the legend of Sedna is probably more real than it seems…

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Satellite map shows evidence of a dangerous Arctic warming feedback loop

Tracking recent environmental changes, with 10 essays prepared by an international team of 63 scientists from 13 different countries and an independent peer-review organized by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme of the Arctic Council.
see NOAA
From Wired by Nick Stockton

One of the ways our planet manages its heat budget is by storing solar energy in the oceans.
In recent years, the Arctic has been taking in more than its usual share of heat energy, which could be bad news for our steadily warming planet.

This latest dire climate update was presented by NASA scientists here at American Geophysical Union meeting on Dec. 17.
The map above was made using heat-sensing, satellite-borne instruments that measure the rate of solar radiation change.
In the Arctic, the rate of heat absorption has increased by more than 10 Watts of energy per square meter since 2000. In some areas—like the big red blob representing the Beaufort Sea north of Alaska—this rate has increased as much as 45 Watts per square meter.


The Arctic Ocean is absorbing more of the sun's energy in recent years as white, reflective sea ice melts and darker ocean waters are exposed.
The increased darker surface area during the Arctic summer is responsible for a 5 percent increase in absorbed solar radiation since 2000.
Image Credit: NASA Goddard's Scientific Visualization Studio/Lori Perkins

Not all of the sun’s energy sticks around on Earth.
Different land surface types bounce it off back into space, while others absorb it. Ice, snow and clouds are really reflective.
Water varies, depending on the angle of the sun.
For the past 15 years, NASA has been using a satellite sensor called CERES (on three different satellites, Terra, Aqua and Suomi-NPP) to calculate how much solar energy is being absorbed versus bounced back into space.

Every summer, the Arctic ice cap partially melts away, and freezes again in the winter, covering more or less (OK, mostly less) the same area it has in the past.
But, because recent years have had record levels of sea ice loss, a lot of that winter ice is barely a year or two old, and less than 6 feet thick.
When summer comes back around, this thin ice melts quickly, exposing the ocean below to solar radiation.
Since 1982, the average onset of the annual summer melt season has moved up by seven days.

 As scientists continue to monitor the Arctic for changes in the face of climate change, they recently discovered some staggering new information - temperatures in the region are rising twice as fast as anywhere else on Earth, a new NOAA-led report says.
(Photo : NASA/Kathryn Hansen)

This creates a solar radiation feedback loop.
The thin ice melts earlier in the summer when the sun is higher in the sky, which exposes the heat-sinking ocean surface to collect even more solar radiation.
This causes a feedback loop, as more heat is absorbed into the ocean, which in turn causes more melting.
Currently, the average temperatures in the Arctic are rising twice as fast as the rest of the globe.

In addition, the researchers originally thought the loss of sea ice would result in more clouds forming over the Arctic, which would make up for some of the lost sea ice by reflecting back sunlight (the rest of the world’s oceans are covered by clouds much of the time).
However, the cloud cover isn’t filling in, and is in fact being quite unpredictable.
This is contributing to the overall rate of solar energy absorption.

Atmospheric scientist Jennifer Kay of the University of Colorado, a collaborator on this research, says it’s too soon to use CERES data to confirm any long term climate trends.
“Climate is usually considered to be a 30 year average,” she said at a press conference.
As CERES has been collecting Arctic solar energy data since 2000, this research is only about halfway done.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Satellites guide sailor from treacherous waters


Matteo Miceli is attempting to sail the Eco40 around the world
using only renewable energy in a project called ‘Roma Ocean World’. 
He is the first one-man, non-stop sailing trip around the world without any additional fuel or food stops throughout the entire journey of more than 27,000 nautical miles (roughly 50,000 km), which begins Sunday, October 19, 2014.
Matteo Miceli, the renown Italian sailor, will make this self- sustaining journey lasting approximately five months,  providing entirely for his own needs to demonstrate that it is possible to undergo such a trip, entirely self-sustaining, with only resources that have been provided by nature.
see Live tracking

From Phys.org

While sailing south of Africa on an around-the-world voyage, Matteo Miceli was suddenly alerted to a massive iceberg in his path.
Almost 4 km long, the iceberg drifting near the Prince Edward Islands was detected and tracked by European satellites.
"According to our experience, at these latitudes the big icebergs undergo strong fragmentation. The presence of a big iceberg could be an indicator for a field of smaller fragments which could be very dangerous for the boat," said Luca Pietranera from e-GEOS, a satellite data processing company that provides information to the team planning Matteo's route.


A team of professors from the University of Rom and the Polytechnic Turin would also like to record the ECO40 boat’s movements by using three Leica Geosystems GR25 GNSS reference receivers which will enable:

  • Calculating the height of waves along the ECO40 route by using the boat as a buoy and will validate the numerical models  of the UK-based Met (meteorology) office;
  • Improving the structural design of the Class 40 sailboat by means of calculating the boat’s dynamic stress and boat material durability during the trip;
  • And recording  the wave characteristics taken from the ECO40’s movements to produce a polar diagram of the boat’s speed, which will be useful for future Class 40 racing boats.

Radar imagery from ESA's Sentinel-1A satellite and the Italian space agency's Cosmo-SkyMed were used to track the movement of the iceberg – and guide Matteo away from the treacherous waters.
The benefit of radar is that it can see through clouds and in the dark, and can therefore provide regular updates on the positions of the icebergs.
It may seem like an awfully cold place for a sailing trip, but Matteo is attempting to sail the Eco40 non-stop around the world using only renewable energy in a project called 'Roma Ocean World', technically lead by the 'La Sapienza' University of Rome.
Even his food supply is self-sufficient.
The aim is to demonstrate how modern technology, together with a responsible attitude, allows us to enjoy maritime sports while respecting the environment.
During the voyage, information on the changes taking place on land and at sea are being collected, underlining the importance of monitoring the effects of climate change on our planet.

ESA’s Sentinel-1A satellite captured this image of an iceberg (lower right)
drifting near the Prince Edward Islands on 14 December 2014.
Credit: Copernicus data (2014)/ESA/e-GEOS

In addition, measurements on wind and waves are being used to check satellite data.
Today, Matteo is in the Indian Ocean.
"In terms of iceberg hazards, the most dangerous part of the Eco40 route will be the passage south of Cape Horn, foreseen in February. For this reason, tracking of the big iceberg there has already started," said Mr Pietranera.
The 32 km-long iceberg drifting along the boat's projected route near the South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands in the South Atlantic has already been picked up on the satellite radars.

ESA’s Sentinel-1A, ASI’s Cosmo-SkyMed and NASA’s MODIS missions tracked the movement of an iceberg as it drifted in a clockwise circle near the Prince Edward Islands (right) in December 2014.
The iceberg was near sailor Matteo Miceli’s planned route (red) while on his ‘Roma Ocean World’ voyage.
Instead, Matteo steered his vessel north of the islands (orange).
Credit: ESA/ASI/NASA/e-GEOS/Google Earth

In the coming months, Sentinel-1A will continue to cover this and other obstacles during Matteo's endeavour.
The Sentinel-1 mission was developed for Europe's Copernicus environment monitoring programme and provides an all-weather, day-and-night supply of imagery of Earth's land, oceans and ice.
Launched in April, Sentinel-1A passes over the same spot on Earth every 12 days.
Once its identical twin, Sentinel-1B, is launched in 2016, this will be cut to just six days, so that changes such as the movements of icebergs can be mapped even faster. 

The B17-A iceberg, 32 km long, and its fragments south of the South Georgia and South Sandwhich Islands (top) are captured in this radar scan by Cosmo-SkyMed in December 2014.
Credit: ASI/Cosmo-SkyMed 2014, processed by e-GEOS 

Links :

Sunday, December 21, 2014

NZ Linz update in the Marine GeoGarage

Coverage NZ Linz Marine GeoGarage layer

As our public viewer is not yet available
(currently under construction, upgrading to a new webmapping technology as Google Maps v2 is officially no more supported),
this info is primarily intended to
our universal mobile application users
(Marine NZ iPhone-iPad on the Apple Store/ Weather 4D Android -App-in- on the PlayStore)
and our B2B customers which use our nautical charts layers
in their own webmapping applications through our GeoGarage API.  



4 charts has been updated in the Marine GeoGarage
(Linz November update published December 12, 2014 (Updated to NTM Edition 24)

  • NZ45 Cape Egmont to Rangitikei River
  • NZ68 Nugget Point to Raratoka Island (Centre Island)
  • NZ69 Stewart Island/Rakiura
  • NZ681 Approaches to Bluff and Riverton/Aparima
Today NZ Linz charts (183 charts / 323 including sub-charts) are displayed in the Marine GeoGarage.

Note :  LINZ produces official nautical charts to aid safe navigation in New Zealand waters and certain areas of Antarctica and the South-West Pacific.


Using charts safely involves keeping them up-to-date using Notices to Mariners
Reporting a Hazard to Navigation - H Note :
Mariners are requested to advise the New Zealand Hydrographic Authority at LINZ of the discovery of new or suspected dangers to navigation, or shortcomings in charts or publications.

North West Passage : from Groenland to Bering Straight with Baltazar sailing boat

Balthazar sailing boat with Claire Roberge et Guy Lavoie

Friday, December 19, 2014

Brazil DHN update in the Marine GeoGarage

As our public viewer is not yet available
(currently under construction, upgrading to a new webmapping technology as Google Maps v2 is officially no more supported),
this info is primarily intended to our universal mobile application users

(Marine Brazil iPhone-iPad on the Apple Store / Weather 4D Android -App-in- on the PlayStore)
and also to our B2B customers which use our nautical charts layers 
in their own webmapping applications through our GeoGarage API.

 DHN coverage

17 charts has been updated and 2 charts have been added since the last update

DHN update November 1, 2014

  • 1405  PORTO DE AÇU   NEW
  • 1406  PROXIMIDADES DO PORTO DE AÇU  NEW
  • 701  PORTO DE MUCURIPE (Fortaleza)
  • 901  PORTO DE MACEIÓ
  • 906  PORTO DE SUAPE
  • 920  PROXIMIDADES DO PORTO DE MACEIÓ
  • 930  PROXIMIDADES DO PORTO DO RECIFE
  • 1511  BARRA DO RIO DE JANEIRO
  • 1512  PORTO DO RIO DE JANEIRO
  • 1622  BAÍA DE SEPETIBA
  • 1631  BAÍA DA ILHA GRANDE - PARTE CENTRAL
  • 1636  PORTO DE ANGRA DOS REIS E PROXIMIDADES
  • 1804  PORTO DE SÃO FRANCISCO DO SUL
  • 1902  PROXIMIDADES DA ILHA DE SANTA CATARINA
  • 23100 (INT.2124)  DO RIO DE JANEIRO À SANTOS
  • 201  BARRA NORTE DO RIO AMAZONAS
  • 204  DAS ILHAS PEDREIRA À ILHA DE SANTANA
  • 242  DA ILHA DOS PORCOS À BAÍA DO VIEIRA GRANDE
  • 243  DA ILHA ITAQUARA À ILHA DOS PORCOS

Today 444 charts (510 including sub-charts) from DHN are displayed in the Marine GeoGarage
Don't forget to visit the NtM Notices to Mariners (Avisos aos Navegantes)

Navy develops ‘GhostSwimmer’ drone that looks like a shark

The US Navy is testing a fish like robot designed to carry out stealthy, silent and secure underwater surveillance missions - from intelligence gathering to hull inspections, where its silent operation and mission endurance would provide great advantages to sailors and marines. 
(other video)

From Wired by Jordan Golson 

The American military does a lot of work in the field of biomimicry, stealing designs from nature for use in new technology.
After all, if you’re going to design a robot, where better to draw inspiration than from billions of years of evolution?
The latest result of these efforts is the GhostSwimmer: The Navy’s underwater drone designed to look and swim like a real fish, and a liability to spook the bejeezus out of any beach goer who’s familiar with Jaws.

The functions of the Ghost Swimmer, a biomimetic device modeled after the bluefin tuna, is demonstrated at the Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek
(Edwar Guttierrez/US Navy)

The new gizmo, at five feet long and nearly 100 pounds, is about the size of an albacore tuna but looks more like a shark, at least from a distance.
It’s part of an experiment to explore the possibilities of using biomimetic, unmanned, underwater vehicles, and the Navy announced it wrapped up testing of the design last week.

The robot uses its tail for propulsion and control, like a real fish.
It can operate in water as shallow as 10 inches or dive down to 300 feet.
It can be controlled remotely via a 500-foot tether, or swim independently, periodically returning to the surface to communicate.
Complete with dorsal and pectoral fins, the robofish is stealthy too: It looks like a fish and moves like a fish, and, like other underwater vehicles, is difficult to spot even if you know to look for it.

Down the line, it could be used for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions, when it’s not assigned to more mundane tasks like inspecting the hulls of friendly ships.
Animal lovers will be glad to hear that the GhostSwimmer could take the jobs of the bottlenose dolphins and California sea lions the Navy currently trains to spot underwater mines and recover equipment.

The GhostSwimmer joins the ranks of animal-based awesome/creepy robots like the “Cheetah” that can run at nearly 30 mph, the Stickybot that climbs like a gecko, and the cockroach-inspired iSprawl that can cover 7.5 feet per second.
And it may get a baby brother: The Department of Homeland Security has been funding development of a similar, smaller robot called the BIOSwimmer.

 This robotic tuna is the final product of a team of students from the Olin College of Engineering.

True to military form, there’s a whole suite of acronyms to go along with the new toy: The UUV (unmanned underwater vehicle) has been in testing at the JEBLC-FS (Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story), and was developed by the CRIC (Chief of Naval Operations Rapid Innovation Cell) project, called Silent NEMO (actually, this one doesn’t seem to stand for anything).
It was developed by the Advanced Systems Group at Boston Engineering, a Navy contractor that specializes in the development of robotics, unmanned systems and something called “special tactical equipment”.
The company and Navy haven’t said much about when GhostSwimmer might be deployed or how much it would cost, but next time you’re at the beach and see a fin sticking out of the water, it might be a killer shark—or it might just be a Navy robot.


Links :
  • DefenseUpdate : Robotic spy fish conducts underwater surveillance
  • GeoGarage blog : Protecting harbors and ships with a robotic tuna fish

Thursday, December 18, 2014

World Magnetic Model updated

Compasses have been used for several thousand years to determine direction.
They point in the direction of magnetic force at the user’s location, and the direction it points is, more often than not, in a different direction than geographic north (toward the North Pole), a more precise direction is achieved by knowing the angle between them (magnetic declination).
However, declination changes with location and time, and a geomagnetic model is often used to correct for it.
Since the changes in geomagnetic fields are difficult to predict, timely model updates (every 5 years for the WMM) are required for navigational accuracy.
The WMM satisfies all these criteria and is therefore widely used in navigation.
Examples include, but are not limited to, ships, aircraft and submarines.
Magnetometer based attitude (roll and pitch) control is commonly used in aircraft and satellites.

From NOAA

NOAA and British Geological Survey update World Magnetic Model :
Critical changes made to ensure accurate navigation

NOAA officials announced today the World Magnetic Model (WMM), a representation of Earth’s large-scale magnetic field and an indispensable complement to GPS devices used by NATO, the United States and United Kingdom militaries, as well as civil applications ranging from mineral exploration to smartphone apps, has been updated.

 Annual rate of change of declination for 2015.0 to 2020.0 from the World Magnetic Model (WMM2015).
Red –easterly change, blue – westerly change, black – zero change.
Contour interval is 1’/year (sixtieth of a degree) up to ± 20’/year,
thereafter 5’/year, and projection is Mercator

Changes in the Earth's outer core trigger unpredictable changes in its magnetic field, an invisible force that extends from Earth's interior to where it meets a stream of charged particles emanating from the Sun.
For example, over the past few decades the North magnetic pole has been drifting toward Siberia at an irregular speed.
This migration can adversely affect the accuracy of navigation if not compensated for by an updated WMM.

Declination (magnetic variation) from the WMM2015
The WMM2015 is a large-scale representation of Earth’s magnetic field.
The blue and red lines indicate the positive and negative difference between where a compass points the compass direction and geographic North.
Green lines indicate zero degrees of declination.
(Credit: NOAA)

“We know the Earth’s magnetic field is constantly changing,” said Stephen Volz, Ph.D., assistant NOAA administrator for NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service.
“But thanks to the environmental intelligence gathered from a wide array of platforms, including satellite observations, we can make vital updates to the World Magnetic Model and ensure the most accurate navigation for commercial applications.”

 Estimated WMM2015 declination inaccuracy
without considering crustal and disturbance field contributions.

 Global distribution of the declination error provided by the WMM2015 error model

Updated every five years, the WMM, created using satellite observations of the Earth’s magnetic field, provides accurate magnetic field declination, the difference between true north and magnetic north critical for navigational safety.
Scientists continuously survey the magnetic field and can precisely map the present field and its rate of change and then extrapolate changes into the future.
WMM-corrected magnetic compass readings are not subject to ionospheric disturbances and work everywhere, including under the sea and in deep canyons.

Declination in region of North Pole at 2010. from WMM2010
Red -positive (East), blue -negative (West), black -zeroContour interval is 5° and projection is Polar Stereographic
credit : BGS NERC

"Although GPS is a great tool for navigation, it is limited in that it only provides your position. Your orientation, the direction you are facing, comes from the magnetic field," said James Friederich, a geodetic scientist at the U. S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.
"Our war fighters use magnetics to orient their maps. Your smartphone camera and various apps can use the magnetic field to help determine the direction you are facing. All of these examples need the WMM to provide your proper orientation."

The WMM is the standard navigation model for the U.S. Department of Defense, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, International Hydrographic Organization and consumer electronics.
For the last 10 years, NOAA’s National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC) in Boulder, Colorado, working with the British Geological Survey in Edinburgh, Scotland, has co-developed the WMM on behalf of the U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and the United Kingdom’s Defence Geographic Centre.
NOAA’s partner, the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Studies (CIRES), contributed key science to this project.

Links :

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Questions about electronic charts in a twenty-first century ship grounding

 On Saturday, November 29, Team Vestas Wind’s boat grounded on the Cargados Carajos Shoals, Mauritius, in the Indian Ocean.
Fortunately, no one has been injured. 
photo : NCG Operations Room – MRCC Mauritius​

We showed in our previous GeoGarage blog article that the grounding of the Vestas had no relationship with some positional discrepancy in the nautical charts, contrary to a similar grounding such as the USS Guardian in the Tubbataha reefs (Philippines) which occurred last year (see GeoGarage blog).

A spokesman for the Volvo Ocean race said that it would be reasonable to assume a large reef formation would be easily detected early on and avoided by changing course as 4 other boats did before Vestas grounding but during the day time not in the darkness.
At a press conference on Monday, Team Vestas admitted that the crash appears to have been caused by “a simple human error”: the navigator, Wouter Verbraak, did not zoom in enough on his charts, worried by a a high-stress situation caused by approaching bad weather.
Positions of the tropical cyclone 02S,
located East-Northeast of Mauritius island 
(Joint Typhoon Warning Center) 

 Meteosat 7 IR picture (courtesy of MTOTEC) 29-11-2014 09:00Z
Low pressure forecast from South African weather service / other satellite pictures 1 & 2


“Prior to the crash in the preceding 48 hours, Wouter and I in regard to our normal duties of looking where the boat was going with the routing, noticed that there would be some seamounts. When I saw those I asked what the depths and the currents and the wave conditions would be." said Skipper Chris Nicholson.
“Wouter’s reply was that the depths went from 3000m to 40m, (which) were the extremes of the depths, the current was negligible and we would monitor the wave state as we approached...”
Wouter explained the reason for the accident to the media:
“In hindsight we would’ve continued to zoom in on the area much more, on the electronic charts. Not doing so is the big mistake that I made, but the good thing is that we didn’t make any more.”
(see his own statement / SailingAnarchy / ZeilenNewYorker / SailingScuttlebut)

Racing navigation isn't ordinary navigation.
Before they left Cape Town in 40 knots of wind, the teams had already been warned of a possible cyclone. They then skirted an iceberg exclusion zone in the Southern Ocean, dodged a tropical depression and had to keep clear of a new Indian Ocean exclusion zone (released one day before the start of the leg) in case of pirates, which lead to set the Cargados shoas in the direction of the Abu Dhabi final destination.

Note that an independent report into the grounding of Team Vestas Wind's boat has been set up by the Volvo Ocean race.

David Burch in his own blog writes some interesting articles 'How a big, well-run, high-tech race boat, can go aground... almost' & 'Don't blame eCharts for anything' completing our first article.
Following to his different comments, we must add that private vector charts displayed in ECS software or in some plotters or tablets call for comments regarding cartographic generalization issues.

 zooming animation on the Marine GeoGarage with NGA raster charts layer :
showing a continuous vision of the Cargados Carajos shoals,
with 'exaggerated' shallow (land) parts on zoomed out views
Other example : same continuous vision of raster charts zooming from general to detail 
with British Admiralty charts :
see zooming animation on the Marine GeoGarage with UKHO raster charts layer

With official vector ENCs, we have also the same continuous vision zooming from low scales to high scales.
In our case, 3 ENC charts coming from 3 different Hydrographic Offices (UKHO, SHOM and NHO) are today available in the worldwide ENC catalog of charts :


respectively overview (GB104702), general (FR274880) and approach (IN42503A) charts

  • GB104702 Indian Ocean - Seychelles group to Nazareth Bank and Agalega Islands (overview) scale 1:3,500,000 (updated 31-05-2012)
  • FR274880 Ile de la Reunion to Rodrigues island and Ile Tromelin (general) scale 1:1,700,000 (updated 21-03-2014)
  • IN42503A Cargados Carajos shoals (approach) scale 1:45,000 (updated 25-03-2014)
GeoGarage ENC webmapping with s63 vector ENCs (GB104702, FR274880, IN42503A)
showing continuity in the display of the Cargados shoals during scaling

But this continuous display of the shoal is not showed in commercial vector electronic charts such as Jeppesen C-Map :

Jeppesen (C-Map) scaling animation
showing that the shoals are not correctly displayed on one of the chart levels.
Note : the same behavior occurs on other commercial nautical vector charts : Navionics / Transas 

 Plan2Nav for iPad (Jeppesen C-Map) zooming animation
showing at high scale depth soundings (on the South East part of the shoals)
whose source are probably coming from the Indian official IN42503A ENC


These above behaviors -with commercial electronic charts- underlines the issues in matter of cartographic generalization of vector-based data especially with computer automation.

Extract from NOAA document (1988) :

All charts are reductions of some part of the environment.
The reduction of the environment to a more comprehensible scale concomitantly yields a variety of undesirable consequences.

These include:

  • a decrease in the distances separating features on the chart;
  • a loss of visual clarity due to overcrowding; and
  • a shift of visual importance from the specific to the general.
In order to depict the important aspects of the Earth's surface at a more reasonable scale, features must be reduced in size and some detail of features must be omitted.
Also, entire features might have to be eliminated, enlarged, combined, and or displaced to fit within the graphic constraints of a typical chart.
To this end, the cartographer must apply a series of manipulations to the chart data in order to depict the important information at the reduced chart scale.

Example of cartographic generalization with coastline with ENCs,
showing how the chart accuracy and display of a coastal area
will be varied related to the selected scale range.
Large-scale charts encompass relatively small areas and show a great amount of detail.
Small-scale charts cover a large area, but show less detail.

The establishment of rigid guidelines for generalization has heretofore been a cartographic enigma.
Regardless of the apparent disparity in the definition of the term, cartographic generalization will be defined as the selection and simplified representation of detail appropriate to the scale and/or purpose of the chart.

Well known cartographic expert M. Eckert (1921) considered cartographic generalization as an subjective process dependable only on cartographers skill.
Today with the some advanced computer aid tools, automated algorithms are used to help the cartographer in the generalization processes especially for the coastline and bathymetry (soundings and isobaths).
The ENC data creation is the process to design and plan an ENC database, taking into account digital generalization factors.
Multiple representation of ENC data is controlled by SCAMIN attributes in the s-57 norm.
The SCAMIN (abbreviation of Scale Minimum) value of an object determines the display scale below which the object is no longer visible on an ECDIS, in order to reduce the amount of clutter displayed and to assign priority to the display of the different objects.
e.g SOUNDG objects -depth soundings- with SCAMIN=10,000 are not be displayed when viewed at smaller scales (>10,000)

So when presented in shipboard compatible Electronic Chart Systems (ECS) or Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems (ECDIS), the user can zoom in to the ENC and be presented with an increasing number of features, which only become visible once an assigned scaling minimum is reached, the SCAMIN s-57 attribut.
Note that in the next version of the ENC norm (s-101), an ENC should ideally be displayed between two scales: Minimum Display Scale and Maximum Display Scale. (see IHO)

But some spatial objects in the usual s-57 norm such as natural coastlines (COALNE) may not be included within SCAMIN.
For example, a lower scale coastline is a generalized version of a higher scale coastline achieved by automated line simplification and smoothing techniques.


Following to some Email discussion with Nick White (navigator and Expedition software developer), it must be remembered that the 3 navigation software used in the Volvo Ocean Race (Expedition, Adrena or B&G Deckman for Windows) are ECS dedicated at first to weather routing, each using commercial electronic charts (C-Map MAX in this case, but are not compatible with raster ARCS from UKHO) and not ECDIS systems (with ENC charts) fulfilling the requirement under SOLAS regulation so they can not be used to replace official paper nautical charts which are available onboard (Use of private produced charts is not officially approved for navigation).
As ECS are at first dedicated to routing (weather optimization function for racing and performance), so usually displayed at low scale charts and are not really related to navigation as such : they might be only used as additional navigation aids to complement the usual job with the paper maps.
But it's also true that today, modern race boats have rudimentary room for A0 paper charts : so it's not obvious to always get all the relevant charts accessible on the chart table.


General coastlines for land determination in the area
GSHHS World Vector Shorelines file (WVS) in black spots (general & detailed) + the one from Google in yellow

By the way, routing software on the markets offer the possibility to launch routing calculations with land avoidance for a performance point of view, so really used for large land masses as sailing can be done quite close to land/reefs.
Generally, the land avoidance routing algorithm uses high resolution shoreline files in order to check the route does not cross the land, or any shallow areas (via depth/hazard avoidance).

Vestas in blue / Dongfeng in red closer of the South West part of the reef
see zoom in the South of the Cargados
(courtesy of Volodia) 

Another interesting point is the fact that the Volvo organization (which receives satellite tracking positions at a couple of minutes of interval) didn't alert the Vestas team once it became quite obvious the boat were heading straight to the shoal (even if Vestas might have been going to sail up to half a mile off the reef and gybe to sail along it -see the other tracks-).

Knut Frostad, CEO Volvo Ocean Race watching C-Map/Jeppesen nautical charts
Crédit : A Sanchez

In conclusion, it's quite common nowadays -especially with the newer generation of sailors using electronics as a primary means of navigation-, to see that all these charting systems (plotters, software and mobile applications) lull people into an excessive sense of security, with the risk of encouraging them to rely too much on these tools they have come to trust, but which can't be the only key for safety of life at sea.

Links :