Saturday, December 31, 2011

New island rises in the Red Sea

Caption: A plume rises from a new island in the Red Sea on Dec. 23, 2011.
Credit: NASA Earth Observatory.

From OurAmazingPlanet

The Red Sea has a new inhabitant: a smoking island.

The island was created by a wild eruption that occurred in the Red Sea earlier this month.
It is made of loose volcanic debris from the eruption, so it may not stick around long.

The Zubair Island, where the new island emerged, on Oct. 24, 2007.

According to news reports, fishermen witnessed lava fountains reaching up to 90 feet (30 meters) tall on Dec. 19, which is probably the day the eruption began, said Erik Klemetti, a volcanologist at Denison University in Granville, Ohio.

Ash plumes were seen emanating from the spot Dec. 20 and Dec. 22 by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites.
The Ozone Monitoring Instrument on NASA's Aura satellite detected elevated levels of sulfur dioxide, further indicating an eruption.
By Dec. 23, what looked like a new island had appeared in the Red Sea off the west coast of Yemen.

"I am surprised about how quickly the island has grown," Klemetti, who writes Wired's Eruptions Blog, told OurAmazingPlanet.

The volcanic activity occurred along the Zubair Group, a collection of small islands that run in a roughly northwest-southeast line.
The islands rise from a shield volcano (a kind of volcano built from fluid lava flows) and poke above the sea surface.

Scientists will keep a close eye on the new island to see if it has staying power.

"Many times the islands are ephemeral as they are usually made of loose volcanic debris, so they get destroyed by wave action quite quickly," Klemetti said.
But the volcanic activity could outpace the erosion due to the wave action.

Newly emerging islands aren't unheard of.
Other newly emerged islands include Surtsey off of Iceland, Anak Krakatau in the caldera of Krakatoa in Indonesia, and Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha`apai in Tonga in the South Pacific.

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Friday, December 30, 2011

Sydney-Hobart 2011 : Investec Loyal's against-the-odds victory closest in 28 years

Investec Loyal crossed the finishing line minutes ahead of Wild Oats XI

From TheGuardian

The Australian supermaxi Investec Loyal's victory in the Sydney-Hobart was upheld on Thursday when a protest claiming its crew asked a media helicopter pilot to spy on a rival was dismissed.

Investec Loyal

A relieved Investec Loyal skipper Anthony Bell said a three-hour international yacht racing committee hearing had cleared his boat of any wrongdoing.

Wild Oats XI

Investec Loyal's win on Wednesday was the closest in 28 years, crossing the line in the 680 nautical mile race only minutes ahead of the supermaxi Wild Oats XI.

"The full committee has dismissed the protest and announced us the win," Bell said in Hobart after the hearing.
"It's an against-the-odds victory for us. We felt when we left the dock on Boxing Day that we were going to do good this year."

The protest claimed that an Investec Loyal crew member asked the helicopter pilot whether Wild Oats XI was using a tri-sail as the two boats sailed down the Australian east coast on Tuesday morning.
Under yacht racing rules such a request could be viewed as outside assistance.
The committee ruled that the crewman's question was not aimed at gaining a racing advantage but was linked to his business as he had sold the sail to Wild Oats XI.

Wild Oats XI had led the race from the start on Monday, with Investec Loyal only gaining the lead in fickle winds in the later stages.
The two boats engaged in a nail-biting tacking duel to the finish line in Hobart.

"It was a great moment that got cut short," said Bell.
"But I'd prefer if there was a question mark on anything in the race that it was dealt with properly, rather than it overlooked. You won't want to hear about it in years to come.
"No matter what they say, 'we won on the water, don't worry about what happens in the room', what happens in the room does matter."

Investec Loyal took two days, six hours, 14 minutes and 18 seconds to finish the race, well outside the record of one day, 18 hours and 40 minutes.

A yacht, bottom right, sails towards a large storm cloud as it races towards Hobart during the Sydney To Hobart 2010 yacht race.
Picture: AP Photo/Rolex, Carlo Borlenghi

Thursday, December 29, 2011

GLONASS fully functional

iPhone 4S v iPhone 4 GNSS (GPS+GLONASS) comparison
The iPhone 4S uses GPS and GLONASS from an MDM6610 for location purposes,
whereas the iPhone 4 uses GPS from BCM4750.

Russia has successfully developed its own analogue of the American GPS, named GLONASS
Recent launches from Baikonur have brought the satellite constellation of GLONASS to the planned 24, giving the system a global coverage.

Dr Andrei Ionin works for the operators of GLONASS.
He explains the geopolitical significance of this global navigation and positioning system: "Russia and its actual as well as potential allies are becoming independent of the American GPS, which may be turned off, globally or regionally, whenever the Americans want this. With GLONASS on, the world is becoming a safer place."

When the GLONASS constellation reached 18, precise navigation across Russia became possible.
With all 24 GLONASS satellites in orbit, your GLONASS receiver can pick signal from the quartette that is necessary for precise positioning anywhere in the world.
Dr Ionin again:"At long last, you are one hundred percent assured that in any corner of the world you can rely solely on GLONASS for your navigation and positioning needs."
He says the military in several countries including Russia and India are to receive satnav devices that use only GLONASS.

Civilian users around the world are to benefit from both GLONASS and the GPS:
"Many of the world’s consumer electronics makers are already developing or even marketing satnav devices with dual GLONASS and GPS enablement.

In mid-October, GLONASS-cum-GPS-enabled iPhones hit the market.
Dual enablement is particularly important in cities, where metre-scale precision and continuity are at a premium.
Taken alone, neither GLONASS nor the GPS possesses the minimum 50 satellites that are needed for this.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Safety on the Open Sea

Speech about OpenSeaMap at ChaosComputerClub (Bernhard Fisher)

Safe navigation with the aid of an open sea chart

In maritime shipping accurate positioning is vital to preserve damage to life, ship, and goods. Today, we might tend to think that this problem is sufficiently solved yet because of the existence of electronic positioning systems like, most notably, the Global Positioning System (GPS) or the Russian counterpart GLONASS.
This is wrong.
Positions in terms of latitude and longitude just make sense together with an accurate sea chart (and of course, together with a navigator that is able to translate charting data into reality).

Sea charts are available of national geospatial agencies and business companies as hard-copy or as digital maps and dependent on costs one might spend they are more or less accurate.

In today's open world the idea of making an open sea chart is obvious
Several projects now started to apply the rules used for the OpenStreetMap, "...a free editable map of the whole world.", to create a free editable sea chart of the whole world and it turns out to be much more difficult because of potential serious consequences in case of charting errors.

A sea chart contains a lot of vital information to a navigator.
It has to be accurate, up to date, and confidential.
Since we (the open sea chart community) cannot just chart every navigational important item on the world we are dependent on information that was already charted before or on third-party information.
The latter could be for example measurements or GPS tracks of people that are somehow involved into maritime shipping but not necessarily into details of marine mapping.
Thus, data accuracy may be questionable but still valuable.
The fact that unauthenticated people are editing data in an open database is a big challenge for an open community since safety and security of life heavily depends on it.

This talk covers the basic principles of sea charts and marine mapping.
It emphasizes the problems of an open sea chart in general and its distinction to an open street map since requirements to ensure safety at sea are very different.
Data preparation and import of other sources are discussed in detail, mainly focused on lights and depths.
The lecture will connect real world shortcomings to a pedantic definite IT world for an IT-oriented audience and approaches IT security from a different angle.

Links :

Image of the week : Cocos (Keeling) Islands

download large image


The Cocos (Keeling) Islands lie in the eastern Indian Ocean, about 2,900 kilometers (1,800 miles) northwest of the Australian city of Perth.
Comprised of coral atolls and islands, the archipelago includes North Keeling Island and the South Keeling Islands.

The Advanced Land Imager (ALI) on NASA’s Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite captured this natural-color image of South Keeling Islands on July 31, 2009.

Coral atolls—which are largely composed of huge colonies of tiny animals such as cnidaria—form around islands.
After the islands sink, the coral remains, generally forming complete or partial rings.
Only some parts of South Keeling Islands still stand above the water surface.
In the north, the ocean overtops the coral.

Along the southern rim of this coral atoll, the shallow water appears aquamarine.
Water darkens to navy blue as it deepens toward the central lagoon.
Above the water line, coconut palms and other plants form a thick carpet of vegetation.

In 2005, the Australian government issued a report on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, summarizing field research conducted between 1997 and 2005.
Hard corals, which play a primary role in reef building, were not the only corals at South Keeling Islands.
Soft corals were also thriving at study sites throughout the reef.
Although coral and rock predominated, the researchers also found varying amounts of silt, sand, rubble, sponges, and seaweed.
Some of the coral had recently died, and coral predators appeared in high densities at some sites.
But overall, the report noted, “the coral reef community at Cocos (Keeling) Islands is very healthy and in a stable period, with little impact from anthropogenic activities.”

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Scow sailing concept

David Raison has won the singlehanded Charente Maritime-Bahia Transat 6,50 on his innovative Proto TeamWork Evolution.

His achievement potentially represents a milestone in the world of offshore yacht racing.
Raison's boat, with her strange looking round nose, has excelled on this difficult course, but especially when sailing between 60 and 90° TWA, where she seems unbeatable, achieving speeds up to one knot more than her opponents.

David’s victory is in line with the history of the Mini Class, who has seen innovations such as canting keels, ballasts or carbon masts, used today on all race boats.

Nobody knows yet whether this type of boats will be seen on other, bigger classes in the future; yet one thing is sure: everyone is going to have to think about it.

E-Scow sailing at 35 knots, Toms River NJ

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Monday, December 26, 2011

Book review : The men who mapped the World/The treasures of cartography

They were the extraordinary pioneers of global travel who risked life and limb to chart the oceans. But last night, thanks to a West author, the remarkable story of the men who mapped the world was revealed. In the first book of its kind, John Blake, a retired Royal Navy Lieutenant Commander from Wiltshire, details the history of the sea chart and the stories behind the maps which changed the course of world history and were instrumental in the rise of the British Empire. It is illustrated with dozens of charts dating to the 15th century. Charting the oceans was mankind's biggest challenge for 600 years, …

"The Men Who Mapped the World" takes you on a journey through the history of cartography and is essentially a history of the world and how its territories were discovered and explored.
Maps have been an integral part of the way humans have lived for approximately 8,000 years. The first accurate maps were produced in Ancient Babylonia.

The earliest world map is the Babylonian World Map, which is symbolic and not an exact representation. It deliberately doesn't include the Persians or the Egyptians.
The Ancient Greeks also produced maps, although they were mostly imaginary reconstructions of the world. Maps have been crucial in the development of empires, have helped to win wars, and have encouraged man to venture further than his or her known boundaries.

Beautifully illustrated, "The Men Who Mapped the World" is a fascinating look at how the science of cartography developed, how maps are used not just for getting from A to B, and why cartography is so important to our history of the world and the world we live in.

Nowadays, we take the use of Sat Nav and Google maps for granted, but this book reflects on the fact that it all began with human imagination and the desire for knowledge.

Contents :
Introduction; Mapping in the Ancient and Medieval World; Cartography in the Age of Discovery; The World Expands-Filling the Gaps (1600-1800); Maps in the Age of Empires and Nationalism (1800-1914); Mapping the Modern World (1914-2011).

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Pictures of the Basque Coast

Mundaka (Spain) -photo Laurent Masurel-

Wave in front of the 'Virgen Rock' in Biarritz -photo Laurent Masurel-

A basque moment in front of the 'Three Crowns' mountain (photo César Ancelle-Hansen)

 Alone in front of the Jaizkibel (photos César Ancelle-Hansen)

 Parlementia (photo César Ancelle-Hansen)

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