Monday, June 26, 2017

Kiwi yacht owner blames outdated charts for Fiji shipwreck

The yacht has been abandoned to the sea after running aground on a Fijian atoll.
Photo/Ben Dreuvakanabalawa -Fiji Navy

From NZ Herald

The Kiwi owner of a yacht shipwrecked on a reef in Fiji says his nautical charts told him the reef was about 5km away - just before the boat hit it.

Four New Zealanders were on the yacht Jungle when it ran aground on Friday morning, stranding them on a remote atoll.
Geoff Marsland, founder of Wellington's iconic Havana Coffee, and Fidel's Cafe co-owner Roger Young were aboard, with yacht owner Peter McLean and his son.

The yacht left Picton on June 15, bound for Tonga.
The crew changed tack for Fiji when the boat's backstay broke.

 Tuvana-I-Ra on the GeoGarage platform (SHOM chart)

 Tuvana-I-Ra on the GeoGarage platform (UKHO 2691-1 chart)

Tuvana-I-Ra on the GeoGarage platform (Linz chart)

Tuvana-I-Ra on the GeoGarage platform (83580A NGA nautical chart, scale 1:350 000)
note : the shift with positionning
(around 1,75 NM between the nautical map and the satellite imagery) 

Tuvana-I-Ra with Google satellite imagery

Early on Friday it hit the isolated reef off Tuvana-I-Ra, more than 400km from Fiji's capital, Suva.
The men managed to make it ashore but their boat was smashed up on the reef.

Marsland told Fairfax the ordeal was like "Survivor in real life", with the four inhabitants of the island initially thinking the men were armed pirates.
But after they found out the men were Kiwis they were extremely hospitable, cooking up a couple of wild chickens for dinner and providing beds and warm clothes.
In return the Kiwis gave their hosts what they could salvage from the yacht including linen, alcohol and a bicycle, Marsland told Fairfax.

In an interview with the Fiji Sun boat owner Peter McLean said the sailors were navigating the reef at high tide when the accident happened.
"The plotter and the radar both said we were three miles off but the two plotters were incorrect by three miles so we just hit the edge of the reef," he said.
"The charts are outdated, they all need to be updated. It should have been done before now . . . If the charts were correct it never would have happened."

Fiji Navy patrol boat the Kula picked the four men up on Saturday and they arrived in Suva about 8.30 this morning.
All four are now safe and well in Suva, the New Zealand High Commission said.
High Commissioner Mark Ramsden says the men were looked after very well by the Fiji Navy and had not requested consular assistance with accommodation or flights home.

Links :

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Bridge 2017 : Queen Mary II, how to enter in a shoe box

Queen Mary 2 to race lightweight trimarans in The Bridge 2017
The race will mark the 100th anniversary
of American troops landing in France during World War I.

The data of the issue : Queen Mary (345  m / 41 m) versus the Joubert lock (350 m / 50 m.) 
The ship must enter in for parking...

In front of the Joubert lock

Ready to enter

That's it !

 Views from W4D 2.0 iOS mobile app with display of the dimensions of the ship.

You can noticed some shift in the display of the ship localization, probably due to the unspecified manually registered data sent by the QM2 AIS transceiver (XY offset of the AIS GPS antenna position compared to the ship geometry).
The width for display is the waterline beam (41 m) and not the one at the bridge level (45 m).
Length: 1,132 ft (345.03 m)
Beam :135 ft (41 m) waterline VS 147.5 ft (45.0 m) extreme (bridge wings)

so a difference of width of 4 m, around 8% of the Joubert lock width.
Ship dimensions and AIS GPS antenna reference point should be obtained from AIS Class A within a 1 minute (in worst cases it might be up to 6 minutes by AIS IEC 61993 Ed2 standard).
It is recommended to use the ‘Conning Station’ position at the midship line,
Conning Station reference point (CRP) is the main reference point and GPS data recalculates to the specified Conning Station Position.

MarineTraffic view

 other view with Vessel Tracker and OpenStreetMap

Comparison with Navionics display with a lock width of 25 m...

 Position of the QM2 received by the own AIS antenna
installed in the GeoGarage offices in Nantes

SHOM largest scale chart (in overzoom) issued from the GeoGarage platform
overlaid on Google Maps imagery

Les Glénans : 70 years birthday for the Centre Nautique

Baie de la Forest, Les Glénans, Concarneau, Le Pouldu - bathymetry minute scanned
(1819 Charles-François Beautemps-Beaupré)

Les Glénans 2017 with the GeoGarage platform (SHOM nautical chart)

Les Glénans in 1958
This year, the Glénans sailing school celebrates its 70th anniversary.
This association created during the post-WWII period by two members of the Resistance Hélène and Philippe Viannay participated in the democratization of the practice of sailing.
Over the years, the school has expanded to include five venues for training courses and new materials (catamaran, kitesurfing, windsurfing ...).
But the celebrity of the Glénans has also been forged on its slogan
"school of sailing, school of sea, school of life".

Links :

Saturday, June 24, 2017

What would the ocean say?

What Would The Ocean Say? from Nancy Rosenthal
This film was produced for the United Nations in celebration of World Ocean Day
by James Cameron and the Avatar Alliance Foundation.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Decoding Antarctica's response to a warming world

The seabed drill rig (MeBo) was developed at the MARUM in order to be able to obtain cores of up to 50 m in length from loose sediments and solid rock.
The 10-ton-weight machine is placed on the seabed and works in water depths of up to 2000 m.
The film shots show - uncommented - tests of different components of the system in the MARUM technology hall, preparations for the suspension of MeBo on board FS METEOR, the drilling of sediment cores on the seabed and - after the return on board - the removal of the drill cores.

From BBC by Jonathan Amos

A tangle of tubes, cables, and actuators - Mebo looks as though it could morph at any moment into one of those Transformer robots from the movies. 

The 10-tonne machine is in fact a seabed drilling system, and a very sophisticated one at that.
Deployed over the side of any large ship but driven remotely from onboard, it's opening up new opportunities to take sediment samples from the ocean floor.
MeBo was developed at the MARUM research facility in Bremen, Germany, and has not long returned from a pathfinding expedition to the West Antarctic.
In the iceberg-infested waters of the Amundsen Sea Embayment (ASE), it obtained the very first cores to be drilled from just in front of some of the mightiest glaciers on Earth.
Chief among these are Pine Island Glacier and Thwaites Glacier, colossal streams of ice that drain the White Continent and which are now spilling mass into the ocean at an alarming rate.
There's concern that deep, warm water is undercutting the glaciers, possibly tipping them into an unstoppable retreat.
And that has global implications for significant sea-level rise.
It was MeBo's job to help investigate whether this really could be happening.
    • "Meeres­boden-Bo­hr­gerät" is Ger­man for "seafloor drill rig"
    • It's lowered to the seabed with a specially designed cable
    • This also delivers power, and carries commands and video
    • An operator drives MeBo remotely from the deployment ship
    • System has a magazine of pipes to lengthen the drill string 
    • Mebo can penetrate mud and rock to a depth of up to 80m

    The goal was to retrieve seafloor sediments that would reveal the behaviour of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) in previous warm phases.
    To read the future in the past. 
    "Has the West Antarctic Ice Sheet collapsed before? Is that the scenario we should expect in the next couple of hundred years?" pondered project leader Karsten Gohl from the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI).
    "Perhaps in some of these warm periods it has only partially collapsed, just a few portions of it. Or maybe the WAIS was hardly affected in those times. We hope we can understand this better by collecting samples because basically the sediments are a climate archive."
    As glaciers grind their way off the continent they crush and bulldoze rock and drop it offshore.
    This material - the range of particles and their shapes, the way they are sorted, etc - codes the activity of the glaciers in the region.
    Layers deposited during periods when the WAIS was extensive will contrast with those from times when glaciers were absent or significantly withdrawn.

    "If you find ice-rafted debris (stones dropped by icebergs), for example, you can be sure there was ice on land and that the ice had advanced to the coast," explained Claus-Dieter Hillenbrand from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS).
    "But also new developments - especially what's known as geochemical provenance - have emerged in the last 10 years that mean it's even possible now to compare this material with rocks on land to pin down the actual sources in the hinterland."
    Helpfully, nature also date-stamps the sediments by incorporating the remains of single-celled organisms (foraminifera and diatoms) from the ocean.
    The distinct species that lived through different epochs act as a fossil chronometer.

    Back in Bremen: The cores have undergone CT scanning and have now been split open

    MeBo's drill cores are now back in Bremen.
    A week ago, the cylindrical liners containing some 60m of ocean-floor material were being X-rayed at a local hospital to precisely determine their internal structure.
    And in the past few days, the task began of splitting the cores to allow their contents to be fully analysed.
    The scientists who travelled to the Amundsen Sea with MeBo, on Germany's Polarstern research ship, already have some clues to what the cores will contain.
    They got a sneak preview in the rock and mud that was visible at the ends of the drill pipe segments when they were brought back up from below.
    From the 11 locations MeBo sampled, it's very likely there are sediments that record the very deep past - from the Late Cretaceous, some 70 million years ago when dinosaurs still roamed the Earth and the landmass that is now Antarctica was green.

     Ice challenge: The drill system can only be lowered when big bergs are absent 
    courtesy of T. Ronge, AWI

    Coming forward in time, it's probable also there are records from the Oligocene (34-23 million years ago) and the Miocene (23-5 million years ago) which should document some key events in Antarctica's history when a burgeoning ice sheet in the East of the continent was supplemented by one in the West.
    "We haven't got a continuous sequence; we have spot samples from these different times," explained Dr Gohl.
    "But with these sediments we hope we can establish the onset of glaciation in Antarctica, and then get records from the time in the Miocene where in other areas of the Antarctic it's known there was the main glacial advance that has persisted to today."
    With luck there are additional sediments distributed in the last few hundred thousand years, when WAIS glaciers would have advanced and retreated through the recent cycle of "ice ages".

     courtesy of T. Ronge, AWI

    What many scientists would dearly love to see is a rich record from the Pliocene, from a time three million years ago when carbon dioxide levels in Earth's atmosphere were very similar to what they are today (400 molecules of CO2 in every million molecules of dry air).
    WAIS behaviour at this time could represent the best analogue for what is about to happen to the ice sheet in the near future.
    But this desire may have to wait to be satisfied by a second expedition with a dedicated drill ship, the Joides Resolution.
    The JR can bore hundreds of metres into the seabed, increasing the chances of capturing an unabridged view of the past. A firm booking has been made for 2019.
    For now, researchers must work with the initial snapshot provided by MeBo.
    BAS team-member Bob Larter: "This is the first time we've had any real constraint on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, because although there's been a number of drilling exercises in the Ross Sea, it's hard from that location to know for sure whether the glacial signal is coming from the East or the West. Whereas if you drill in the Amundsen Sea, you know it's a record of the WAIS."
    The results of the various lab analyses now under way are eagerly awaited and will be reported in a slew of scientific papers.
    For MeBo, the expedition has demonstrated once again what an agile system it is.
    "This type of drilling will become more common, not just in science but also in industry," predicted Marum's Tim Freudenthal.
    "There are several applications in the oil and mining industries, and offshore wind farms - they need geotechnical investigation of the seabed. For all these types of investigation, the big drilling vessels can often be too powerful. The seabed drilling systems like MeBo offer a very good alternative."
    An update on the Amundsen Sea Embayment expedition was presented to the recent General Assembly of the European Geosciences Union (EGU).

    Links :

    Thursday, June 22, 2017

    With latency as low as 25ms, SpaceX to launch broadband satellites in 2019

     SpaceX plans to launch internet satellites in 2019 to provide internet access worldwide

    From ArsTechnica by

    Satellites will function like a mesh network and deliver gigabit speeds.

    In May this year, SpaceX said its planned constellation of 4,425 broadband satellites will launch from the Falcon 9 rocket beginning in 2019 and continue launching in phases until reaching full capacity in 2024.
    SpaceX gave the Senate Commerce Committee an update on its satellite plans during a broadband infrastructure hearing this morning via testimony by VP of satellite government affairs Patricia Cooper.
    Satellite Internet access traditionally suffers from high latency, relatively slow speeds, and strict data caps.
    But as we reported in November, SpaceX says it intends to solve these problems with custom-designed satellites launched into low-Earth orbits.
    SpaceX mentioned 2019 as a possible launch date in an application filed with the Federal Communications Commission in November and offered a more specific launch timeline today.
    Cooper told senators:
    "Later this year, SpaceX will begin the process of testing the satellites themselves, launching one prototype before the end of the year and another during the early months of 2018. Following successful demonstration of the technology, SpaceX intends to begin the operational satellite launch campaign in 2019. The remaining satellites in the constellation will be launched in phases through 2024, when the system will reach full capacity with the Ka- and Ku-Band satellites. SpaceX intends to launch the system onboard our Falcon 9 rocket, leveraging significant launch cost savings afforded by the first stage reusability now demonstrated with the vehicle."

     Washington-based company Vulcan Aerospace announced that its Stratolaunch Systems, an air-launch platform for rockets, is close to completion.
    see ZDnet

    The 4,425 satellites will "operat[e] in 83 orbital planes (at altitudes ranging from 1,110km to 1,325km)," and "require associated ground control facilities, gateway Earth stations, and end-user Earth stations," Cooper said.
    By contrast, the existing HughesNet satellite network has an altitude of about 35,400km, making for a much longer round-trip time than ground-based networks.
    SpaceX has also proposed an additional 7,500 satellites operating even closer to the ground, saying that this will boost capacity and reduce latency in heavily populated areas.
    But Cooper offered no specific timeline for this part of the project.
    There were an estimated 1,459 operating satellites orbiting Earth at the end of 2016, and the 4,425 satellites in SpaceX's planned initial launch would be three times that many.
    Other companies are also considering large satellite launches, raising concerns about potential collisions and a worsening "space junk problem," an MIT Technology Review article noted last month.
    SpaceX today urged the government to relax regulations related to satellite launches and to include satellite technology in any future broadband infrastructure legislation and funding.

    Network design

    SpaceX's satellites will essentially operate as a mesh network and "allocate broadband resources in real time, placing capacity where it is most needed and directing energy away from areas where it might cause interference to other systems, either in space or on the ground," Cooper said.
    Satellites will beam directly to gateway stations and terminals at customers' homes, a strategy that will greatly reduce the amount of infrastructure needed on the ground, particularly in rural and remote areas, she said.
    "In other words, the common challenges associated with siting, digging trenches, laying fiber, and dealing with property rights are materially alleviated through a space-based broadband network," she said.
    Customer terminals will be the size of a laptop.
    While speeds should hit a gigabit per second, SpaceX said it "intends to market different packages of data at different price points, accommodating a variety of consumer demands."
    Current satellite ISPs have latencies of 600ms or more, according to FCC measurements, but SpaceX has said its own system will have latencies between 25 and 35ms.
    That's better than DSL and similar to several of today's major cable and fiber systems, according to FCC measurements.
    The measurements show that the Altice-owned Optimum and Verizon FiOS had latencies of just over 10ms, better than what SpaceX is expecting to achieve.
    SpaceX promised that its satellite technology won't become stale after launch.
    The company's "satellite manufacturing cost profile and in-house launch capability" will allow it to continually update the system's technology to meet changing customer needs, Cooper said.

    Links :


    Wednesday, June 21, 2017

    It's World Hydrography Day : what is hydrography?

    Wednesday 21st of June is World Hydrography Day as declared by the United Nations.

     Hydrography is the science that measures and describes the physical features of bodies of water.
    By mapping out water depth, the shape of the seafloor and coastline, the location of possible obstructions, and physical features of water bodies, hydrography helps keep our maritime transportation system moving safely and efficiently.
    source : NOAA / NGA 

    The weather master

    An In-Depth Look at the Finite­ Volume Cubed-Sphere Dynamical Core (FV3)

    From ScienceMag by Paul Vousen

    Take that, Europe.
    Computer modeler aims to give U.S. lead in weather predictions :

    Shian-Jiann “S. J.” Lin’s program will power short-term weather forecasts and long-term climate simulations.

    From below the conference table comes the thrum of incoming phone alerts.
    The new weather forecast has rolled in, and the climate scientists, even though it’s not typically their business, dig out their phones to look: snow tomorrow—hardly unusual for early February in Princeton, New Jersey.
    But the weather models have the storm breaking severe, dumping a foot or more.
    A snow day seems likely.
    Across the table at the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL), Shian-Jiann “S. J.” Lin is not convinced.
    He is the master of 20,000 lines of computer code that divide the atmosphere into boxes and, with canny accuracy, solve the equations that describe how air swirls around the globe.
    For decades, Lin’s program has powered the long-term simulations of many climate models, including GFDL’s—one of the crown jewels of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
    Now, Lin’s domain is expanding to a different side of NOAA: the short-term weather forecasts of the National Weather Service (NWS).

    By 2018, Lin’s program will be powering a unified system for both climate and weather forecasting, one that could predict conditions tomorrow, or a century from now—and do it faster and better than current models.
    His work will soon be guiding mayors planning not just for snow plows, but also rising seas.
    But Lin has started early.
    His small team is already running a prototype forecast on their supercomputer.
    And in his typically confident and brash style, he offers a minority report about the next day’s storm.
    “If our forecast is correct, it’s only 3 to 6 inches,” Lin announces. His peers at the table seem skeptical.
    “It’s going to be a mess,” one warns.
    But Lin doesn’t budge.
    He rarely needs to.
    “We’ll see what we get tomorrow,” he says.
    “You want to bet?”
    Much is riding on Lin.

    NOAA'S new weather satellite expected to lead to more accurate forecasts.
    The first set of images from the GOES-16 satellite have been released by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (N0AA).
    The geostationary satellite will be used for weather forecasting, severe storm tracking and more. 

    Recently, NWS has suffered some prominent embarrassments, such as in 2012, when it predicted Hurricane Sandy would sputter out over the ocean while a leading European center accurately forecast the direct hit on New York City.
    Fed up with the country’s second-place status, Congress in 2013 poured $48 million into NWS weather modeling.
    The message for NOAA was clear: Get America on top.
    This drive has opened up an opportunity.
    For a long time, meteorologists and climate scientists operated in separate domains.
    Meteorologists focused on speed: ingesting as many data as possible from satellites, balloons, and buoys and quickly spinning it into a forecast.
    Climate scientists focused on the fussy physics of their models to produce plausible simulations over decades.
    But now, the two groups are discovering common ground, in “subseasonal to seasonal” predictions—from a month to 2 years out.

    In order to push forecasts beyond 10 days or so, meteorologists need the superior physics of the climate models.
    Meanwhile, climate scientists want to know how weather phenomena that happen on monthly or annual timescales, like El Niño, influence the global climate.
    “The two cultures are speaking each other’s language, and realizing they’re going to live and die together,” says John Michalakes, a computer scientist who develops atmospheric models at the Naval Research Laboratory in Monterey, California.
    There could be another benefit to blurring the lines between weather and climate, one that climate scientists are loath to talk about explicitly.
    Although studies of human-driven climate change have faced scrutiny and scorn from conservative politicians in the United States, weather research remains solidly bipartisan, says David Titley, director of the Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk at Pennsylvania State University in State College.
    Just this month, for example, Congress passed a weather forecasting bill that dedicates $26.5 million of NOAA’s budget to improving its seasonal predictions, and climate change doubters were among the supporters.
    “If I were running the world, I would keep that divide vague,” Titley says.
    In his modeling, Lin never made the distinction.
    “From the beginning we talked about how there is no difference between weather and climate,” says Ricky Rood, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and Lin’s longtime collaborator.
    But others haven’t wanted to hear that message—and especially not from Lin, who is as feisty and fractious as a government employee can get.
    “It’s amazing to me,” says Rood, “that S. J. could evolve to be a source of unification.”
    Storms have roiled around Lin his whole life.
    Typhoons are regular events in Taipei, where he grew up, and he was always fascinated by their power.
    “I have hurricanes in my blood,” he says.

    Born in 1958 to parents who ran a small construction company, he was the first in his family to go to college.
    As a student at National Taiwan University, he studied microprocessor architectures, along with meteorology and fluid dynamics.
    He became fascinated with the challenge of rendering the continuous currents of the atmosphere in the discontinuous, 0-or-1 world of computer code.
    At the time, Taiwan was a dictatorship, and Lin joined student groups opposed to the regime.
    After college, he faced several years of mandatory military service.
    He aced his entry test and assumed he would land a cushy engineering job in Taipei.
    Instead, he was shipped to the Matsu Islands, 16 kilometers from the Chinese mainland.
    He was hardly a model soldier.
    He hated having to recite party doctrine during assemblies.
    “You had to pretend, and say something not in your heart,” he says.
    Taiwan didn’t seem to have a place for him, so in 1983 he enrolled in the aerospace engineering department at the University of Oklahoma, one of the only schools he could afford.
    He wanted to be a rocket scientist.
    But it was a tough transition.
    He cared more about learning computer languages than English, and felt isolated.
    His accent is a barrier, but not the only one.
    “Some folks tend to have a difficult time following S. J.,” says Bill Putman, a meteorologist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and another longtime collaborator.
    “But it’s not necessarily a language barrier.
    It’s more a knowledge barrier.”

    Seeing his talent for computational fluid dynamics, his adviser suggested Lin switch to Princeton University, which with its partnership with GFDL is a hotbed for atmospheric modeling.
    He learned how GFDL scientists divided the air into a 3D grid that spanned the globe and stretched from the surface to the stratosphere, following lines of latitude and longitude.
    Along points on the grid, they would set initial conditions—the weather or climate for a given moment in time.
    Then, point by point, the computer would solve equations describing changes in wind, air pressure, temperature, and humidity for successive steps in time.
    Computers were room-sized mainframes at the time, and the model grids were huge, with a mesh size of 500 kilometers.
    The models could recreate only the largest atmospheric features, like jet streams and the Hadley cell, the belt that circulates warm air from the equator to the subtropics.

    After graduate school, Lin decided to stay in the United States.
    “I’m now more American than I am Taiwanese,” he says.
    He drinks whisky, but infuses it with ginseng.
    He returned to the University of Oklahoma as a postdoc to work on modeling tornadoes.
    But computers couldn’t yet model events that unfold at such small scales.
    The failure was humbling, and Lin says it provided a mantra: “Choose the right level of complexity for the particular problem, at the time that you have the resources to do it.”
    Lin soon found the right problem at NASA.
    In the late 1980s, Rood was working on the problem of the Antarctic ozone hole at Goddard.
    NASA was flying research planes into the hole to measure the chemicals that might be destroying it.
    These flights revealed a drop in several short-lived reactive nitrogen oxides, which allowed chlorine from human-made chemicals to linger, priming further reactions that broke down the ozone.
    But Rood’s atmospheric models couldn’t simulate the flows and reactions.
    No matter what he did, the nitrogen reactants remained steady.
    How could that happen?
    At the time, an elegant mathematical solution had overtaken global modeling, called the spectral method.
    Rather than solving at points on a latitude-longitude grid, scientists realized that fluid flow in the atmosphere could be represented as the sum of a series of hundreds of sinusoidal, crisscrossing waves.
    The code ran faster, and the results could be transformed back onto a regular grid.
    The spectral method still powers most global weather forecasts today, including at NWS.
    But the speed comes with a cost: When the waves are projected back into physical space, mass can gradually grow unbalanced.
    For weather models, which only run for days into the future, this is not a big deal.
    But for models of atmospheric chemistry and climate, which run for much longer periods, these distortions were a critical flaw.

    Fortunately for Rood, a young Taiwanese scientist had written to him, lured by his publications.
    When Lin joined NASA in 1992 as a contractor, the two set out to build a model that, above all else, preserved mass.
    This first meant jettisoning the spectral method.
    It also meant upgrading from finite-difference modeling, which solves for points on a grid, to a finite-volume model, which solves for conditions averaged across each cell, or box, and is ideally suited for conserving mass because the calculations pass fluxes, or volumes, of material from one box to the next.
    Others had considered such a solution, but thought it too complex or computationally expensive.
    But Lin was a master of computational efficiency.
    Over a furious few years in the mid-1990s, he and Rood expanded their model beyond chemical transport—for which it remains the standard—to a fullfledged dynamical core fast enough to be used for climate models.
    Put a mote of dust in the air, says Paul Ginoux, an aerosol modeler at GFDL, who also worked with Lin at Goddard, “and this code will transport it at the right place, at the right moment.
    And that’s beautiful.” The name of the code was far more mundane.
    They called it “FV,” for finite-volume, and later FV3.
    Their work soon drew the attention of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado, one of the country’s leading institutes for weather and climate science, which incorporated FV into its influential climate model.
    NASA’s climate laboratory in New York City adopted it as well.

    And in 2003, GFDL lured Lin away to upgrade FV and fold it into its global simulation.
    The results of these models, some of the top U.S. contributions to the United Nations panel on climate change, have informed much of what the public hears about global warming.
    And they’ve all had Lin’s innovations at their heart.
    There's a term of art at NOAA for the reactive way Congress finances weather research: “budgeting by disaster.” It’s rarely pretty, and it’s why the coming merger in atmospheric modeling will, at its root, be thanks to the calamities of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy.
    In 2005, after NWS failed to forecast Katrina’s direct hit on New Orleans, Louisiana, until 2 days out, Congress set aside money to improve predictions of Atlantic hurricanes.
    As it happened, it was around this time that Lin walked into the office of his boss at GFDL, Isaac Held, and declared: “I’m going to revolutionize weather prediction.” Computers were now capable of processing boxes small enough to render hurricanes.
    More important, Lin had developed a key bit of physics needed for FV3 to forecast realistic hurricanes.
    Many global forecasting models operate using an assumption called the hydrostatic principle—where the gravity of the air in any box is exactly balanced by the upward force of the air pressure in the box below it.
    This works for coarse models, which cannot directly simulate the fine upward and downward flows in the real atmosphere.
    But recreating weather events like hurricanes and thunderstorms, where updrafts are important, requires breaking this hydrostatic principle.
    After a decade of mulling, Lin finally had an efficient way of incorporating nonhydrostatic flows into his code.
    He needed to test it.


    Zooming in on storms
    The FV3 model divides the atmosphere into boxes and simulates conditions in each one.
    To avoid problems at the poles, its coordinates are based on a cubed sphere.
    The program can also nest grids to simulate weather at different scales.
    Frank Marks, who leads hurricane research at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory in Miami, Florida, was overseeing improvements for the regional hurricane model for the Atlantic basin.
    With a smaller area to model, Marks can afford to have fine-scale boxes.
    Lin convinced him to use Katrina dollars to buy extra supercomputer time.
    Run FV3 at a 1-kilometer resolution, Lin promised, and the finest details of cyclones would arise.
    Sure enough, the violent walls of a hurricane’s eye opened in his code.
    In 2014, when NOAA announced a competition to choose the “core” of the agency’s next-generation weather forecast system, Lin was ready.
    Five models were entered, including FV3.
    And by the summer of 2015, FV3 was one of two frontrunners, along with the Model for Prediction Across Scales (MPAS), the globalized version of a long-standing system produced by NCAR and used by many researchers.
    They would be judged on their speed and accuracy in mimicking the atmosphere’s flows.
    For 6 months, Lin’s placid office turned frenetic, as his team worked nights and weekends to embed FV3 within the weather service’s system.
    “There was never a time where I thought we were losing the battle on scientific ground,” Lin says.
    One advantage of his model was efficiency. It is Lin’s obsession—and not just at work: When Hurricane Sandy knocked out power at Lin’s modest home, he refused to use a normal generator, and instead rigged his Prius up to his home wiring.
    Its battery, he explained, would make certain any extra electricity the car’s generator churned out wouldn’t go to waste.
    So that FV3 could make efficient use of limited computing power, Lin and his team had written the code to work in parallel.

    This is hard for global models, where the weather in one box can influence another box a hemisphere away.
    But this interconnectedness isn’t as big a problem in the vertical dimension, so Lin enabled FV3’s layers to be detached from each other and be processed in parallel.
    He won additional efficiencies by changing the shape of the grid.
    Climate models are plagued by the so-called pole problem, the result of the strangely squished and stretched boxes near the poles.
    So Lin and Putman, his former NASA colleague, abandoned the latitude/longitude system in favor of a cubed sphere.
    Picture a six-sided die inflated like a balloon.
    There were no more poles to handle, just six square panels, with tricky interactions at the seams.
    The net result: compared with MPAS, FV3 took a third as many computer processors to run at operational standards.
    It also outperformed MPAS when run on a vast number of processors, and it could zoom in to model one part of the globe at high resolution without skewing its performance in coarser regions.
    It was a slaughter.
    NCAR withdrew its model before NOAA anointed FV3 as the winner, in July 2016.
    “There was just never any conclusive evidence that MPAS had an advantage that was worth the cost,” says Michalakes, who led the computing comparisons.
    During the competition, Lin had complained that NOAA was biased in favor of MPAS; now, he crows about his victory.
    “Most people in that discipline paid no respect to what we had been doing,” he says.
    “They found out the hard way.” With NCAR toppled, Lin now faces far bigger rivals: the United Kingdom’s Met Office, which since the early 1990s has been the only center to have merged its weather and climate forecasts, and the European Centre for Medium-Range Forecasts, which has long run the top-rated weather model.
    This time around, he’ll need help.

    European modelers start with the same set of balloon, satellite, and ground measurements as everyone else.
    But they cleverly inject randomness into these initial conditions, then do multiple runs to come up with a “consensus” forecast.
    Getting the United States up to those standards will require winning over U.S.
    researchers to provide innovative techniques that Lin and his colleagues can adapt for their model.
    Yet there’s a risk that academic weather scientists will avoid using FV3 and instead stick with MPAS, more comfortable with its origins and documentation, says Cliff Mass, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Washington in Seattle.
    Lin’s reluctance to break down his code in the past has heightened concerns.
    “Lin is a brilliant modeler,” Mass says.
    “He’s not big on community support.” But Putman believes Lin will embrace true improvements.
    “If he sees something that will push this code beyond where it is now, I’m sure he’s willing to adapt.”
    At a workshop next week, NWS will lay out its aggressive timetable for turning on FV3.
    By this May, FV3 ought to be fully wired into the service’s data assimilation.
    And by the first half of 2018, if all goes well, NOAA will flip the switch, making it the standard forecast that feeds into all of our phones.
    Meanwhile, Lin’s team continues to tinker with FV3.
    They’re honing a more powerful zooming technique: allowing the grid to create nests of high-resolution boxes, 2 to 3 kilometers a side, over regions of interest.
    This could allow high-resolution hurricane forecasts to be run at the same time as global predictions, with no need to wait for the global run to finish.
    And it could capture tornado outbreaks and severe storms, weather that has been too finegrained for existing global models.
    “We’re kind of ambitious,” Lin says.
    “We’re trying to cover everything.”

    On a screen at GFDL, Lucas Harris, Lin’s deputy, zooms in on Oklahoma, where a nested FV3 grid is recreating the events of May 2013.
    It was that month that a severe twister plowed through Moore, Oklahoma, killing 24.
    As the model runs, scattered storms organize into a line of squalls.
    Then anvil clouds form—the thunderstorm cells from which tornadoes would touch down on Moore.
    Next, Harris changes the place and time, to the eastern United States in June 2012, when a bow of thunderstorms—a so-called derecho—caught forecasters off guard and in some areas knocked out power for a week.
    The model sees traces of the storm nearly 3 days in advance.
    “Previously,” Harris says, “it was believed there was only 12 hours of predictability to this event.”
    So far these results have stayed in the lab, but Lin is doing his best to spread the gospel.
    For the 2017 hurricane season, his prototype will run alongside existing regional hurricane models.
    And next month, Lin will return to Oklahoma for the “Spring Experiment,” a research jamboree of severe storm scientists, to test how the zooming technique could help local forecasters.
    All this collaboration, this dependence on outside contributions, makes Lin nervous.
    His model is moving out of the lab into the messy real world.
    Will it become the bedrock of all weather and climate prediction, from tornadoes next week to temperature rises next decade? “I’m cautiously optimistic, but not overly optimistic,” he says.
    A good omen comes the next morning.
    Snow blankets Princeton—beautiful, but also manageable.
    Nearly 6 inches fell, not a foot or more.
    GFDL could have stayed open.
    Over the ether, Lin can’t resist a final comment.
    “The snow,” he writes, “is not as bad as forecasted.”

    Links : 

    Tuesday, June 20, 2017

    First nautical chart designed for bathymetric navigation

    In 1939, Coast Survey published the first chart designed for bathymetric navigation.
    Chart 5101A uses 50-fathom depth curves and fewer numerical depths.
    The resulting product brings out steep slopes and broad plateaus of the bottom topography

    zoom on chart 18740 nautical raster chart in the GeoGarage platform

    Monday, June 19, 2017

    New map reveals ships buried below San Francisco

    Cartographers are still putting the finishing touches on the new map, which will appear in the visitors’ center at the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park.
    This detail from a new map of buried ships in San Francisco shows the original shoreline extending inland to the current location: the iconic Transamerica Pyramid building (top center).
    From National Geographic by Greg Miller

    Dozens of vessels that brought gold-crazed prospectors to the city in the 19th century still lie beneath the streets.

    Every day thousands of passengers on underground streetcars in San Francisco pass through the hull of a 19th-century ship without knowing it.
    Likewise, thousands of pedestrians walk unawares over dozens of old ships buried beneath the streets of the city’s financial district.
    The vessels brought eager prospectors to San Francisco during the California Gold Rush, only to be mostly abandoned and later covered up by landfill as the city grew like crazy in the late 1800s. Now, the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park has created a new map of these buried ships, adding several fascinating discoveries made by archaeologists since the first buried-ships map was issued, in 1963. It’s hard to imagine now, but the area at the foot of Market Street, on the city’s eastern flank, was once a shallow body of water called Yerba Buena Cove, says Richard Everett, the park’s curator of exhibits.
    The shoreline extended inland to where the iconic Transamerica Pyramid now rises skyward.

    In 1848, when news of the Gold Rush began spreading, people were so desperate to get to California that all sorts of dubious vessels were pressed into service, Everett says.
    On arrival, ship captains found no waiting cargo or passengers to justify a return journey—and besides, they and their crew were eager to try their own luck in the gold fields.

    This is one of five panels in a panoramic daguerreotype taken by William Shew in or around 1852. Rincon Point, the southern end of the cove, appears in the foreground. 

    The ships weren’t necessarily abandoned—often a keeper was hired to keep an eye on them, Everett says—but they languished and began to deteriorate.
    The daguerreotype above, part of a remarkable panorama taken in 1852, shows what historians have described as a “forest of masts” in Yerba Buena Cove.
    Sometimes the ships were put to other uses.
    The most famous example is the whaling ship Niantic, which was intentionally run aground in 1849 and used as a warehouse, saloon, and hotel before it burned down in a huge fire in 1851 that claimed many other ships in the cove.
    A hotel was later built atop the remnants of the Niantic at the corner of Clay and Sansome streets, about six blocks from the current shoreline (see map at top of post).

    Localization with the GeoGarage platform (NOAA chart on Google Maps)

    A few ships were sunk intentionally.
    Then as now, real estate was a hot commodity in San Francisco, but the laws at the time had a few more loopholes.
    “You could sink a ship and claim the land under it,” Everett says.
    You could even pay someone to tow your ship into position and sink it for you.
    Then, as landfill covered the cove, you’d eventually end up with a piece of prime real estate.
    All this maneuvering and the competition for space led to a few skirmishes and gunfights.

    One of these intentionally scuttled ships was the Rome, which was rediscovered in the 1990s when the city dug a tunnel to extend a streetcar line (the N-Judah) south of Market Street.
    Today the line (along with two others, the T and the K) passes through the forward hull of the ship.
    Eventually Yerba Buena Cove was filled in.
    People built piers out into it to reach ships moored in deeper water, Everett says.
    “The wharves are constantly growing like fingers out from the shore.”
    Then people began dumping debris and sand into the cove, which was only a few feet deep in many places to begin with.
    “By having guys with carts and horses dump sand off your pier,” Everett says, “you could create land that you could own.”
    It was a land-grab strategy with lasting ramifications—as evidenced by the ongoing controversy over a sinking, tilting skyscraper built on landfill near what was once the southern edge of Yerba Buena Cove.
    Three archaeologists—James Allan, James Delgado, and Allen Pastron—consulted on the making of the new shipwreck map, and discoveries by them and their colleagues have added several fascinating details that weren’t on the original buried-ships map created by the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park in 1963 (see below).
    Red circles on the new map indicate sites that have been studied by archaeologists.

    This detail from the original 1963 buried-ships map shows “Sydney Town,” where Australians congregated in Gold Rush days.
    There was a Chilean enclave just inland from here, and fights sometimes broke out between the two groups.
    Map courtesy San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park 

    One of the most interesting additions to the new map is a ship-breaking yard at Rincon Point at the southern end of Yerba Buena Cove, near the current anchorage point for the Bay Bridge.
    A man named Charles Hare ran a lucrative salvage operation here, employing at least 100 Chinese laborers to take old ships apart.
    Hare sold off brass and bronze fixtures for use in new ships and buildings.
    Scrap wood was also a valuable commodity in those days, Everett says.
    The 1851 fire ended Hare’s business.
    Archaeologists have found the remnants of six ships at the site that were presumably in the process of being salvaged at the time of the fire. One—the Candace—was another whaling vessel pressed into service to bring gold-crazed prospectors to San Francisco.
    A lighter, small, flat-bottomed boat that was used to shuttle goods from moored ships to shore has also been found.A development project near Broadway and Front streets, which began in 2006, turned up bones that archaeologists suspect came from Galapagos tortoises (the site is marked by an asterisk in the map at the top of this post).
    After passing around Cape Horn, many ships stopped in the Galapagos Islands and threw a few turtles in the hold—a source of fresh meat for the long voyage north to California.
    “They got to San Francisco, and lo and behold: They had more turtle than they could eat,” Everett says.
    Menus from the era show that turtle soup was a common offering at restaurants and lodging houses around the cove.

    Illustrator and designer Michael Warner says his inspirations for the new map included the “Maps of Discovery” from a mural painted by N.C. Wyeth in 1928 for the headquarters of the National Geographic Society.
    Wyeth’s imaginative painting evokes the romance of the Age of Discovery, and Warner says it inspired him to go beyond just showing the details of the buried ships and historic wharves.

    “My hope is that I have not only enhanced the image for the history enthusiast,” he says, “but created something that might even make people learn by accident!”
    The team is still ironing out some final details, such as how to most accurately represent the boundaries of Charles Hare’s ship-breaking yard.
    They hope to have posters of the new map available for purchase early next year and plan to eventually put it on display in the visitors’ center.

    Links :

    Sunday, June 18, 2017

    Yacht race starts from Plymouth (1964)

    The boats with full sails head out to the bay
    for the start of the second edition of the single handed Transatlantic yacht race (OSTAR)
    (May 23, 1964)
    Thirteen competitors started this race in 1964, 
    which by now was firmly established on the racing scene.
    All of the five original competitors entered, and all five improved their original times (Gipsy Moth III with Sir Francis Chichester the winner of the first edition in 1960 making ready);

    but the show was stolen by French naval officer Éric Tabarly, who entered a custom-built 44-foot (13 m) plywood ketch, Pen Duick II.
    The days of racers sailing the family boat were numbered following Tabarly's performance, for which he was awarded the Légion d'honneur by president Charles de Gaulle.
    It is also noteworthy that Tabarly and Jean Lacombe were the only French entrants in this race; Tabarly's success was instrumental in popularising the sport in France, the country which in future years would come to dominate it.

    This was to be the year in which several future trends were established.
    Multihulls made their first appearance — sailing in the same class as the other boats; and the race featured the use of radio, for the first time, by several competitors who gave daily progress reports to their sponsors.

    Links :

    Saturday, June 17, 2017

    Mini tsunami on European coast

    A rare tidal wave caught on camera early in the morning.
    Location: Zandvoort Noord-Holland, Netherlands.
    Date: 29 May 2017 06:21
    Radac Cie checked the measurements of  wave radar at Prinses Amalia Wind Park (23km in front of Ijmuiden) : Heave measurements, 29-05-2017
    The picture (see zoom) shows a nice peak just before high tide, an increase of +/- 80 cm.
    Prinses Amalia Wind Park in the GeoGarage platform (NLHO chart)

    The mini tsunami was caused by a fast approaching high pressure front with some decent thunderstorms. 
    (see Nos)

    Friday, June 16, 2017

    The quest to save coral reefs

    Dr. David Vaughan is working to combat the crisis in the world’s coral reefs—that is, that humans have lost 25 to 40 percent of the world’s corals in recent decades due largely to seawater temperature rise and ocean acidification.
    Vaughan has developed a game-changing technique called “microfragmenting” that allows corals to grow more than 25 times faster than normal, which could rapidly restore the dwindling population of healthy coral reefs.
    The Atlantic visited Dr. Vaughan in the Florida Keys to uncover how the process works and understand how much hope there is to revitalize our reefs. 

    From The Atlantic by Meehan Crist

    With some of the world’s richest ecosystems hanging in the balance, scientists are turning to technologies like 3-D printing.

    A coral is an animal that demands imagination.
    Look closely through a dive mask (or a Google image search) and you’ll see that a coral reef’s rocky undulations are coated in an astonishing skin of tiny creatures that look like upside-down jellyfish, bells rooted in place, mouths open and ringed with tentacles waving to the sea.
    These are coral polyps.
    And right now, around the planet, they are dying with breathtaking speed.
    It’s uncertain how many will survive into the near future, and unclear what we can do to make sure they survive.

    Often mistaken for plants, corals are cousins to jellyfish and sea anemones, with whom they share a phylum and a distinctive physique.
    Each coral polyp is shaped like a tube, with a mouth, a simple stomach, and a base where it secretes a cup-shaped exoskeleton of calcium carbonate that roots it in place and protects it from predators.
    Many corals reproduce asexually, when polyps clone themselves.
    As new polyps form, they build their cup-shaped skeletons on top of the empty shells of previous generations, creating limestone reefs as they go.
    A single coral is often an animal composed of hundreds or thousands of interconnected polyps, a colony of genetic clones that share a single set of DNA, clinging to the skeletal remains of its own past dead.
    Most corals are also hermaphroditic spawners, which means that in addition to cloning, they produce both eggs and sperm.

    One night a year, in a wildly improbable mass-spawning event, all the coral of a single species will release eggs and sperm bundled together into tiny translucent globes that cloud the water and rise to the ocean’s surface.
    Here, the globes break apart, sperm and eggs intermingle, and baby coral larvae are born.
    Researchers used to think a larva would float along helplessly, tossed by ocean currents, until it happened on a place to land.

    But in recent years researchers have discovered that a baby coral polyp can sense light, temperature, pH levels, and even sound in the ocean through which it navigates, waving its tiny cilia and swimming in search of a future home.
    Once a larva lands and attaches, it stays put for life.

    3D-printed reefs, a new addition to the growing assortment of artificial reefs being dropped into ailing oceans worldwide, are designed with these polyps in mind, their nubbly surfaces grooved and inviting, intended to offer safety and succor.
    The world’s first 3D printed reef was sunk in the Persian Gulf in 2012.
    Made of pale sandstone with nubbly branches designed to look like actual coral, it was just one artificial unit among 2,620 (the others made of molded concrete) dropped off the coast of Bahrain in a massive effort to replenish dwindling fish stocks.

    The area’s coral reefs had been ravaged by pollution and overfishing, leaving “once complex marine habitats now reduced to rubble.”
    Artificial reefs can provide shelter for a limited species of fish and sea creatures in the short-term, but can they help us keep vibrant coral ecosystems alive long-term?
    Bolstering fish stocks is a worthy project, but no artificial reef is a replacement for living coral, an animal that has evolved for millions of years to interact in equilibrium with its environment.
    Coral-reef ecosystems cover only a tiny sliver of planetary real estate, just 0.0025 percent of the world’s ocean floor, but they are home to fully 25 percent of all marine species—by some estimates, reefs beat even rain forests for biodiversity.

    The value of this biodiversity to humans is staggering.
    By one estimate, coral reefs account for over $6.7 trillion of the annual global economy, more than four times the U.K.’s share.

    Coral reefs also filter and clean polluted ocean water, and serve as protective barriers against increasingly violent storms.

    Perhaps most critically, coral-reef ecosystems provide half of the earth’s oxygen and absorb 30 percent of the carbon dioxide emitted from burning fossil fuels.
    Without reefs, this warming planet will get hotter, faster.
    We need coral, even if it needs us like the proverbial hole in the head.
    And yet, across the globe coral is dying at unprecedented rates.
    Across the Caribbean and Florida Keys, two key coral species—staghorn and elkhorn—have declined by an astonishing 98 percent since the 1970s.
    Worldwide, coral has already declined by roughly 40 percent.

    Just last October, The National Oceanic and Aquatic Administration (NOAA), made the devastating announcement that with the return of El Niño, we are seeing the third worldwide coral bleaching event in recorded human history.
    “Bleaching” occurs when ocean temperatures stay too warm for too long—sometimes just a degree or two warmer than usual—and corals react to the stress by kicking out their symbiotic zooxanthellae, the tiny algae that live in their tissues, giving corals their vibrant colors and providing them with energy through photosynthesis.
    Without their colorful symbiotic partners, the coral turns an eerie, skeletal white.
    And without its main source of energy, it starts to starve.
    When coral bleaches, reef creatures flee or die in droves.

    In a matter of days, what was once a vibrant underwater ecosystem becomes a barren field of bone fingers reaching into an empty ocean.
    As I write this, a massive band of unusually warm water is spreading around the middle of the planet.
    Corals have already bleached across the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, and the Florida Keys.
    Just two weeks ago, coral started bleaching in Fiji.
    Thousands of blue and turquoise and pink reef fish washed up dead along the beaches of the Coral Coast.

    Victor Bonito, marine biologist and director of Reef Explorer Fiji, told New Zealand Radio that nearly a third of inshore corals have bleached and he has already witnessed “decades of damage.”
    The first time a global coral bleaching event happened, when El Niño hit in 1997-98, 16 percent of the world’s coral was severely damaged.
    In the Maldives, it was as high as ninety percent.
    This time around, the bleaching is predicted to be even worse and is expected to stretch well into 2017.

    As Mark Eakin of NOAA put it in a statement released just a few days ago, “We are currently experiencing the longest global coral bleaching event ever observed.” Right now, the band of warm water is heading west from Fiji toward Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
    Cooler weather could mitigate the damage, but already there are reports of up to 80 percent bleaching in sites along the northern edge of the World Heritage site.

    The Guardian reports that “authorities are praying for clouds and rain.”
    There is no doubt that a profound shift is underway in today’s ocean, and coral reefs are the canaries in the coal mine of our carbon-obsessed planet.
    As a result of human activity, particularly the burning of fossil fuels, our ocean is not only warmer, on average, but also more acidic, because CO2 emitted from burning fossil fuels gets trapped in the ocean, and turns into acid.

    A landmark study published in Nature last month offers the first evidence that rising CO2 levels and acidification are severely stunting coral growth.
    To say that the ocean we have known in our lifetimes is already gone is not doomsaying or pessimism.
    It’s a realistic assessment of where we stand, now.

    On Feb 19, the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO) announced that for the first time in recorded history the world passed the threshold of 1 degree Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures, halfway to the Paris treaty’s controversial 2 degree Celsius threshold, a point at which, once it becomes the average, a recent paper in Nature Geoscience reports all the world’s coral reefs will already be gone.
    Some estimates have us on track to speed past that 2 degree Celsius threshold in the next 20 years, but just a few days ago the planet briefly heated all the way up to the dreaded 2 degree Celsius, leaving climate scientists reeling.

    Given the scope of devastation under way in our ocean, it’s hard to know whether new technologies like 3D printed reefs can make a difference.
    A bit like aquatic birdhouses, artificial reefs are often designed with a certain species in mind (red snapper in Bahrain), but they provide shelter for myriad species, including algae, anemones, octopus, and crab.
    If molded concrete units are the Soviet-era apartment blocks of the sea, the 3D printed unit off Bahrain is an aquatic Craftsman, the buff surface carefully grooved and pitted to attract free-floating baby coral polyps—the hope being that one day those artificial limbs might be carpeted in living coral.
    Similarly, a new system of 3D printed reef soon to be unveiled by Reef Design Labs, co-founded by Reef Arabia founder Dave Lennon, features interlocking units with a porcelain coating that boasts “dimples” and “a chemical makeup similar to coral” that may attract baby coral polyps.
    While promising as a substrate for baby coral polyps, the materials these reefs are built of are guaranteed to last just sixty years.

    Most are not large or heavy enough to withstand being tossed around by a major weather event, and there is very little scientific data on what happens when you actually put them in the ocean.
    In a maddening catch-22, 3D printed reefs lack the imprimatur of data from scientific testing, which means it’s hard to secure funding to put them in the ocean, where data could be collected.
    So far, the unit off Bahrain is the only 3D printed reef in any ocean in the world, though plans are underway to sink six 3D printed reefs—designed to help corals recuperate from damage—off the coast of Monaco later this year. (Lennon is an advisor to the project.)

    Meanwhile, coral around the world is struggling to survive in warmer, more acidic waters.
    For millions of years, corals have lived in changeable environments, pummeled by storms and the vicissitudes of climate, and they have evolved to be inherently dynamic and resilient systems.
    “Resilience” is a word overused to the point of nonsense in recent years, but the concept is meaningful in the context of coral-reef ecology.
    After the first bleaching event in 1998, 16 percent of the world’s coral in fifty countries bleached.
    Forty percent of that coral died, but that means 60 percent of it lived.
    “They can bounce back from disruption.
    They can bounce back from mortality,” says Gabriel Grimsditch, the senior project officer at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, currently helping to develop coral-reef management plans.

    Battered corals can recover from catastrophic events like bleaching or cyclones, but they need time.
    Corals grow slowly, averaging between .02 to 8 inches per year (a rate stunted by rising acidity), so even a fast recovery takes years.
    “You can’t stop a bleaching event,” says Grimsditch, “but you can manage for recovery.
    We can reduce local stressors like pollution and overfishing.
    We can design measures that might help give aquatic life a fighting chance.”
    Grimsditch is focused on managing reefs longterm.

    Less local pressure from overfishing, land-based pollution, and destructive coastal development means healthier coral before global events, which means greater resilience afterward and the possibility of healthier reefs in the future.
    Of course, some species of coral will undoubtedly fare better than others, which will fundamentally alter the makeup of the world’s coral reef ecosystems.
    Recently, researchers have make the remarkable discovery that some genetically younger corals are able to live in hotter and more acidic waters than their forebears.
    There may already be corals that have adapted to live in our future ocean.
    “Let’s focus on the factors we can manage and help reefs be more resilient,” said Grimsditch.
    “If 3D printing helps, that’s great.”

    This perspective—short-term pessimism, long-term optimism, a willingness to try—is increasingly prevalent among those concerned about the future of our ocean.
    In Florida, marine biologist David Vaughn is using new aquaculture techniques to speed the growth and resettlement of centuries-old coral.
    Ruth Gates, a researcher at the Hawai’i Institute of Marine Biology, is breeding coral in an attempt to speed evolution of a new “super-coral” that can thrive in warmer and more acidic water.
    In Curaçao, marine biologist Kristen Marhaver is using 3D printed discs to study coral larvae, and has found the species she studies prefer to settle on discs that are pink or white—the color of a healthy coral reef.

    One could imagine a super-coral farmed to healthy adulthood on 3D printed reefs.
    Artificial reefs may help some corals survive the global transition from fossil fuels, or they may be all that’s left, underwater birdhouses of concrete and porcelain built for species that have adapted to survive without coral—the dark green algae and the glittering handfuls of homeless fish searching for a place to hide.
    This future ocean may not be ideal, but it too, is worth fighting for.

    The oldest marine organism on the planet is a deep-water black coral, Leiopathes, living off the coast of Hawaii and carbon-dated to 4,265 years old.
    Down where Leiopathes live, temperatures are less dependent on fluctuating weather patterns at the surface, so this coral might have better odds at surviving the epic changes underway.

    The future remains uncertain, but we know that change is inevitable (the calcerous part of the Alps, known as the Northern Limestone Alps, used to be coral reefs) and we know we can’t reverse the effects of climate change on our oceans.
    The real hope is that some corals survive long enough for human civilization to wean itself from a carbon-based economy.
    In the meantime, we can ventilate the coal mine until we no longer need coal, and we can breed heartier canaries.
    Letting go is not the same as giving up.

    Links :