Saturday, April 6, 2013

Aurora Borealis

This video shows what happened on Mars 17 when an CME (Coronal Mass Ejection) hit Earths magnetic field.
Two days earlier, sunspot AR1692 had produced a M1-class solar flare that resulted in the CME that hit Earth.

This time lapse shows what happened during four hours over Ă–stersund here in Sweden, between 19:20 and 23:35 UT.

The time lapse consists of 2464 raw images for a total data amount of 30Gb.
The photo of the Sun is a hydrogen alpha mosaic I've made from 10 images that was captured on Mars 16. Total of 10 Gb data.
So all in all this movie contains over 40Gb of data that I've been processing over the last 5 days.

Links :

Friday, April 5, 2013

Record-breaking 2011 Lake Erie algae bloom may be sign of things to come

An image of the Lake Erie algae bloom acquired by NASA's Aqua satellite on October 9, 2011.
credit : NASA Earth Observatory.

From Underwatertimes

The largest harmful algae bloom in Lake Erie's recorded history was likely caused by the confluence of changing farming practices and weather conditions that are expected to become more common in the future due to climate change.

Rather than an isolated, one-time occurrence, Lake Erie's monumental 2011 algae bloom was more likely a harbinger of things to come, according to University of Michigan researchers and colleagues from eight other institutions.

 A Lake Erie algae bloom in September 2009.
This photo was taken on the southeast shore of Pelee Island, Ontario. credit Tom Archer

The interdisciplinary team explored factors that may have contributed to the event and analyzed the likelihood of future massive blooms in the lake.

"Intense spring rainstorms were a major contributing factor, and such storms are part of a long-term trend for this region that is projected to get worse in the future due to climate change," said aquatic ecologist Donald Scavia, director of U-M's Graham Sustainability Institute.
"On top of that we have agricultural practices that provide the key nutrients that fuel large-scale blooms."

A paper summarizing the team's findings is scheduled for online publication April 1 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The first author of the paper is former U-M researcher Anna Michalak, now at the Carnegie Institution for Science.
Eighteen U-M co-authors from various departments and schools contributed to the study, which looked at land use, agricultural practices, precipitation, temperature, wind, lake circulation and surface runoff.

"This event was caused by a complex combination of factors, and I think this paper really puts all the pieces together in a very clear and systematic way," said U-M atmospheric scientist Allison Steiner, one of the co-authors.
"We tried to think about this problem in a much more cross-disciplinary way than I think other people have thought about it before."
The researchers found that a series of intense spring rainstorms and runoff events resulted in record-breaking levels of phosphorus, a nutrient in crop fertilizers that also fuels rampant algae growth, washing into western Lake Erie.
That set the stage for an algae bloom that covered about 2,000 square miles by the time it peaked in early October 2011.
That's more than three times larger than any previously observed Lake Erie algae bloom, including blooms that occurred in the 1960s and 1970s, when the lake was famously declared dead.

NASA acquired October 5, 2011
>>> geolocalization with the Marine GeoGarage <<<

The 2011 spring storms included one that dumped 2 inches of rain over Ohio's Maumee River basin in 24 hours on May 26 and 6.8 inches total for the month of May 2011—more than 20 percent above the long-term monthly average.
The Maumee is a primary tributary to western Lake Erie, and it drains an agricultural watershed where corn, soybeans and wheat are grown.

In their study, the researchers used 12 computerized climate models to determine if rainstorms like the May 2011 events are more likely to occur in the future.
The models, which incorporate the anticipated effects of human-caused climate change due to the buildup of heat-trapping greenhouse gases, showed that the frequency of spring rainstorms that drop more than 1.2 inches is likely to double in this region by the end of the century.

"The models do predict an increase in extreme springtime precipitation events, and that's driven by an increase in greenhouse gases," said Steiner, an associate professor in the Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences.

Once the 2011 Lake Erie bloom formed, unusually warm water temperatures and calm winds created ideal conditions to promote summer algae growth.
"All of these factors are consistent with expected future conditions," the 29 authors of the PNAS paper wrote.

An algae bloom is a rapid buildup of algae in a body of water, and harmful blooms are those that damage other organisms—including humans—through the production of toxins or by other means.
Algae blooms can foul harbors, clog boat motors, reduce fish populations and sometimes lead to the formation of low-oxygen "dead zones" where most aquatic organisms cannot survive.

The 2011 Lake Erie bloom was composed almost entirely of toxic blue-green Microcystis algae.
Concentrations of mycrocystin, a liver toxin produced by the algae, peaked at about 224 times World Health Organization guidelines, according to the researchers.

In addition to meteorological conditions, other factors contributed to the 2011 Lake Erie algae bloom.
Chief among them is the widespread adoption, since the mid-1990s, of no-till farming and other agricultural practices that have increased the availability of a type of phosphorous, known as dissolved reactive phosphorous or DRP, that promotes algae growth.

In no-till farming, crops are planted without plowing by inserting seeds into small holes.
The technique reduces erosion but leaves high levels of phosphorous-bearing fertilizer in the upper surface soil, where heavy rainstorms can wash it away.
Trends toward autumn fertilizer application and surface broadcasting of fertilizers also create conditions for enhanced phosphorous runoff.

Unless there's a significant shift away from these practices, runoff from farmland in the Maumee River watershed and other Western Basin watersheds will likely continue to provide the nutrients needed to trigger massive Lake Erie algae blooms.

In addition, the current emphasis on producing corn for ethanol production, as well as a trend in the Midwest toward declining acreage reserved for conservation purposes, is likely to exacerbate the problem, said Michael Moore, a professor of environmental economics at U-M's School of Natural Resources and Environment and one of the paper's co-authors.

"Corn is the crop on which phosphate-based fertilizer is most heavily applied," Moore said.
"So the intensification of corn production is a problem, and part of the solution would be to rethink this emphasis on corn production for biofuels."

Links :
  • NSF : Extreme events impacts on water quality in the Great Lakes: Prediction and management of nutrient loading in a changing climate
  • OurAmazingPlanet :  Why Lake Erie is under attack from algae blooms

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Undersea cables are actually more vulnerable than you might think

More than a dozen undersea cables out come out of the ports of Egypt.
Image: Telegeography (extract from interactive map)

From Wired

The idea that saboteurs in wetsuits would dive to the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea and cut a fiber optic cable, though not impossible, is highly unlikely, if only because doing so would be a good way to wind up dead.

“These cables are carrying thousands of volts of power,” Mark Simpson, CEO of SEACOM, told Wired. The company owns five undersea fiber optic lines running from South and East Africa to Asia and Europe. Attempting to cut such a line could easily kill you, he said, making sabotage “pretty unusual and pretty dangerous.”

That’s not to say it didn’t happen, and so far, it’s one of the explanations the Egyptian military has offered in the five days since naval forces arrested three men alleged to have attempted to cut an undersea cable off the coast of Alexandria.
The head of Egypt Telecom said the incident caused a 60 percent drop in internet speeds.

The men have insisted they cut the cable by mistake.
Egyptian officials haven’t offered any further details on what exactly happened to the South East Asia-Middle East-West Europe 4 (SEA-ME-WE 4 for short) cable beyond saying the military stopped a “criminal operation.

The total length of the SEA-ME-WE 4 submarine cable system is approximately 20,000 km which consists of the main backbone across the Eastern and Western worlds and links 14 countries with 16 landing stations across Europe, Middle East and Asia plus the extension links in various countries.
The system is amongst the most economical cable systems in the region and is built with state-of-the-art Terabit DWDM technology to achieve ultra fast terabit per second connectivity.
The construction of this cable system is testimony to the growing demand for high capacity broadband links that are essential in today’s world of high speed international connectivity and online business.

Regardless of what exactly happened, the incident underscores the vulnerability of the world’s undersea communications cables to damage, intentional or not.
Nearly 200 undersea fiber optic cables link the world’s telecommunications, and they are for the most part poorly armored, rarely patrolled and only occasionally monitored.

Telecommunications market research firm TeleGeography recently released an intricate map (ironically, it is sponsored by Telecom Egypt) that traces the routes these cables follow.
When a major cable breaks (or gets cut), it can severely slow down internet connection speeds and even put countries completely in the dark.
A cut cable off the coast of Alexandria in 2008 left Egypt, India, Pakistan and Kuwait in the dark.
A 2006 earthquake in Taiwan damaged several cables and cut off communication to Hong Kong, South East Asia and China.

There has been some suggestion that the guys in Alexandria were treasure hunters who thought the cable might contain copper, Simpson said. It wouldn’t be the first time someone cut a line trying to strike it rich.
Two years ago, a Georgian woman struck a fiber optic cable while digging for copper, cutting off internet access to neighboring Armenia for five hours.

Historically, however, undersea cables are more susceptible to accidental breakage by ship anchors, fish trawlers and natural disasters.
Tim Stronge, a researcher at Telegeography, says such mishaps snap cables about 100 times a year. Some countries try to prevent breakages by providing detailed nautical maps and levying heavy fines for dropping anchor or casting nets in close proximity to cables.

“The industry is accustomed to cables breaking,” Stronge said.
“They are armored when they are close to shore and generally they are buried slightly under the sea floor closer to the beach.”

A single submarine cable is anywhere from 0.75 to 2.5 inches thick.
The armored cables closer to shore can have up to two layers of galvanized wires protecting the fiber optic core (.pdf). These aren’t the kind of cables you cut with a pair of wire cutters.

That said, nothing is impossible, which is why it is somewhat surprising that there is little security in place to protect these vital cables from sabotage or terrorism.

“Other than obscurity and a few feet of sand, [the cables] are just there,” Andrew Blum, author of Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet, told Wired.
“The staff at a cable landing station might patrol the path to the beach landing once or twice a day, but otherwise I’ve never heard of or seen any constant security.”

A lack of security can leave cables vulnerable to attack.
Some telecoms and governments use radar tracking systems to monitor the area around these cables.
Such technology detects when a ship is getting dangerously close to a cable and can warn the vessel of its proximity.
But Blum says this high level of awareness can be “a boon to saboteurs” seeking the exact location of certain cables.

In places like Egypt, undersea cables are especially vulnerable because there is a bottleneck of 14 cables coming out of both Alexandria and Cairo.
Eight of them connect to the shores of Alexandria.
Cutting cables in this area would have a domino effect that would hurt connectivity in many countries.
“What’s true for shipping is true for the internet,” Blum noted.

Cutting these cables would effectively slow down internet speeds in more than just Egypt.
A ship anchor recently damaged six cables off the coast of Alexandria in February and led to outages in several East African countries.
With so much of the continent’s connectivity tied to such a small area, it would make it an appealing target for would-be saboteurs.

That said, terrorist attacks and intentional cable cuttings are rare.
Stronge has not heard of another case like that alleged to have happened in Egypt, and said whatever happened remains a matter of speculation.

“As far as I know, it hasn’t been proven that these men were cutting cables,” Stronge said.
“It could be a case of these men being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It could be Egyptian authorities being nervous about internet outages.”

Stronge said that his biggest fear is that this incident become undersea cable folklore, much like that old saw about sharks biting through the first submarine fiber optic cable.

“You still hear that today,” he said.
“What really happened was the cable was mislaid and it was too taut between the mountains and valleys of the ocean floor. It had nothing to do with sharks. I worry that people will now just assume that there are saboteurs across the coast of Alexandria.”

Links :

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Seafood sustainability not a sustainable reality

We won’t have sustainable fishing until we stop demanding so much seafood.

From TheConversation

In 1883, the eminent English biologist Thomas Henry Huxley made his now infamous proclamation on the infinite bounty of the sea:
Probably all the great sea fisheries are inexhaustible; that is to say, that nothing we do seriously affects the numbers of fish. Any attempt to regulate these fisheries seems consequently, from the nature of the case, to be useless.
A century later, numerous great fisheries had collapsed (including herring and cod, which Huxley specifically mentioned).
Despite Huxley’s awareness that new technology (“steam and refrigerating apparatus”) made it possible to “draw upon the whole world” for seafood, he could not foresee the immense increase in fishing capabilities – particularly from SONAR – that would occur during the 20th century.
Nor could Huxley account for the explosion in demand for seafood that would invariably follow a tripling of the human population in the 100 years following his 1883 prediction.
Huxley’s “inconceivably great” sea fisheries could not support our yet greater appetite.

One hundred and thirty years on, and bad news outweighs the good.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations reported in 2012 that 57% of marine fisheries are fully exploited and 30% are overfished.
Asia’s fishing effort has increased 25-fold since the 1950s, yet their catch is steadily declining.
And the world would need to mothball around 2.6 million commercial fishing boats to make fishing sustainable.

 Image: Courtesy of PEW Charitable trusts

There is debate among scientists about the values of these statistics, and rightly so, but, much like the informed climate change debate, it is focused on not whether the news is bad, but how bad.
The good news is that some fish stocks are stable, some are recovering, and some are well managed (the West Australian coast rock lobster fishery is renowned for its sustainability).
Indeed, if you’re in Australia, the doom-and-gloom of global seafood may seem far from your experience at the fish market or your local fish-and-chip shop.
There is plenty of choice, and you can always walk away with a fish.

In part, this reflects Australia’s well managed fish stocks.
Oceania is the region least affected by overfishing, and if there continues to be an investment in fisheries research and management, the sustainability of Australian wild-caught seafood could be world-leading.

So does this mean we are a sustainable seafood nation?
Probably not.
For one thing, Australia imports around 70% of its seafood, mostly as cans and frozen fillets.
You may have come across basa in your local fish shop (a species of catfish farmed extensively in Asia).
Basa is quickly becoming the most imported fish in many parts of the world, including Australia, and basa aquaculture could offer high sustainable production if carefully managed.

Without these imports, it is very unlikely Australia could sustainably satisfy current consumer markets with only Australian fish (even if we held on to our most popular exports – rock lobster and tuna).
We must also remember that large ocean fisheries are harvested by many countries, and for fish like tuna, Australia’s contribution may only be part of a complicated international management effort.

 Local fishermen in West Africa are struggling with reduced catches.
Image: Godong/Robert Harding World Imagery/Corbis

What does this all mean for “seafood sustainability”?
Well firstly we must acknowledge that our demand for wild-caught seafood outstripped the ocean’s sustainable supply decades ago.
If we rehabilitate the oceans, to the tune of $200 billion dollars, we could potentially increase our current harvest a little and keep it there sustainably.
Even so, we would need more.

This brings us to the crucial point: there is no such thing as a sustainable type of seafood, only a sustainable harvest rate.
If we are to demand truly sustainable fisheries, and we admit that harvests cannot continue to grow, then we conclude that what must change is our consumption.
As long as humans demand ready access to seafood whenever they want it, there will be pressure to exceed these rates.

Can aquaculture fill this gap?
Aquaculture already provides 47% of the world’s food fish production, and since 1990 has been the only thing fulfilling the increase in seafood consumption.
It has not taken the pressure off our oceans, and significant improvements must be made before aquaculture becomes a predominantly sustainable industry.
Nor is aquaculture likely to ever meet global demand for large ocean fish like tuna (over half of aquaculture production is freshwater fish).

We need to reevaluate what “sustainability” really means in the current climate of global development and consumption.
The local consumer still has options for selecting seafood harvested at sustainable rates, and much information exists online.
But the consumer must acknowledge that a constant supply of wild-caught fish is not sustainable.
When we fish, we hunt, and while industrial agriculture has accustomed us to a constant food supply at a steady price, our wild ocean fisheries cannot provide this same security.

The big picture is that a sustainable harvest of seafood will not meet global demand.
It is possible to have global seafood sustainability, but only if we address the driving force of global consumption.
Without doing so, without finding a way to rationalise the right of human reproduction with the right for global sustainability, then “sustainable” will be loose term applied and reapplied as we chase that shifting baseline, trying to maintain what is left.
Ultimately, we should not demand sustainable seafood – we should demand sustainable consumption.

Links :
  • ScientificAmerican : China Estimated to Dramatically Underreport Its Overseas Fishing Catch

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Jellyfish 'RoboCop' will help save the world's oceans by patrolling US waters like an aquatic spy

Virginia Tech: Autonomous Robotic Jellyfish from virginiatech

From Wired 

This five-and-a-half-foot robot jellyfish could be the future of Navy underwater surveillance. Seriously. Maybe.
Certainly, if a team of engineers from Virginia Tech gets its way.

Meet the Cyro, an autonomous robot with eight mechanical legs ringing its metal chassis, designed to mimic the unique, efficient underwater propulsion of a jellyfish.
Covered in silicone to replicate the jellyfish’s wavy, bioluminescent mesoglea — the jelly, basically — the Cyro weighs a staggering 170 pounds, all thanks to a five-year grant from the Office of Naval Research.

The robot is still a prototype, years away from being in the water.
But it represents a new kind of testbed for oceanographic surveillance, the Cyro’s basic application. Like the bird- and insect-shaped drones the Air Force is developing, a jellyfish-like spybot has a natural stealth advantage.
“Mimicking a natural animal found in a region allows you to explore a lot better,” says Alex Villanueva, a graduate student at Virginia Tech working on the Cyro.

It’s a much different model for underwater propulsion than the Navy’s used to.
Jellyfishes move, uniquely, by flapping themselves about.
“It’s not necessarily the best hydrodynamics propulsion mechanism, but the jellyfish has a very efficient metabolism: energy going in comes out as hydrodynamic energy,” Villaneuva says.
The Cyro isn’t there yet, but it gets three to four hours of swimming time out of its rechargeable nickel metal hydride battery.

And it’s also a launch-and-forget robot.
There’s no remote controls on the Cyro.
Place it into the water, and its roll-pitch-yaw sensor package, pressure sensors and software do the rest.
That’s something for the Navy to think about as it considers designs for its forthcoming unmanned underwater vehicle fleet.

There’s no saying whether the Navy will purchase the ‘bot, and its inventors are comfortable emphasizing its civilian potential as an oceanographic research testbed.
But should the Navy decide it needs a surveillance tool that looks like a massive jellyfish, there’s one on offer.
Links :
  • DailyNews : Jellyfish 'RoboCop' will help save the world's oceans by patrolling US waters like an aquatic spy
  • GeoGarage blog : Bioinspired Robojelly fuelled by hydrogen

Monday, April 1, 2013

Find treasure with Google Maps

In September 2012 our team discovered a paper map that has been verified as Captain Kidd's treasure map.
However, we haven't deciphered all the clues yet and its up to you to access his map and uncover the secrets.
If we all work together, we can solve the mystery and find the long lost treasure.

From GoogleLatLon

Archeological analysis has confirmed that our Google Maps Street View team has indeed found one of history’s long lost relics: a treasure map belonging to the infamous pirate, William “Captain” Kidd.

The map was found on a recent expedition in the Indian Ocean, as part of a deep-water dive to expand our underwater Street View collection.
Captain Kidd was rumored to have buried his treasure around the world, and tales of a long-lost treasure map have lingered for generations.

When Dr. Marco Meniketti, an independent archaeologist, confirmed that this was Captain Kidd’s 315 year-old map, we were very excited.
However, as seen in the video, the map contains a variety of encrypted symbols and is not readily decipherable.
We need your help to decipher these symbols and find Captain Kidd’s treasures; therefore we’ve decided to digitize the map and make it accessible to everyone.

 Our digital version allows anyone to explore Captain Kidd’s long-lost treasure map

To access Captain Kidd’s treasure map, click here or on the “Treasure” button in the top right corner of Google Maps.
If we all work together, we can solve the mystery.

Be sure to follow the Google Maps G+ page or as we work together to decipher the clues to Captain Kidd’s buried secrets.

The living sea

"All that we do is touched with ocean, yet we remain on the shore of what we know"

The film is a survey of the world's oceans, emphasizing that it is a single interconnected ocean and the dependence of all life on the planet.
The film shows researchers tracking whales, a Coast Guard rough-weather rescue squad, a deep-ocean research team, and the Palau Islands, which contain an unusual jellyfish habitat.

The Living Sea celebrates the beauty, power, and importance of the ocean.
Underscored by the music of Sting and narrated by Meryl Streep, the motion picture explores our relationship with the sea.
Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary/Short Subject (1995).

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Finding Nemo 3D - 10 funniest scenes in Finding Nemo

From TheFanCarpet

The Academy Award®-winning creators of "Toy Story," "A Bug’s Life," and "Monsters, Inc." dive into a whole new world of computer-animated fun, fantasy, and heartfelt emotion with this splashy underwater adventure - Finding Nemo.
The film follows the comedic and eventful journeys of two fish – Marlin and his son Nemo – who become separated in the Great Barrier Reef when Nemo is unexpectedly taken from home and thrust into a fish tank in a dentist's office overlooking Sydney Harbor.
Finding Nemo is arguably one of Pixar’s most iconic films.
Ten years later, it is still as hilarious to both kids and adults as it was when it first came out.
So, in celebration of the upcoming 3D release, here are (in no particular order) ten of the film’s funniest scenes...

 Dory speaks whale
Easily one of the most memorable scenes, Dory’s facial expressions as she tries to summon the whale and attempt different dialects (“Did that sound a little orca-ish?”) will have moviegoers of all ages in stitches for years to come.
Bonus: After Dory and Marlin are dropped off at the Sydney harbour, Marlin gives his own attempt to thank the whale. Dory’s oblivious quip, “Wow, I wish I could speak whale...” is enough to make anyone double over with laughter.

Bubbles protects his bubbles
Nemo gets a bit of a scare on his first day in the dentist’s tank when Bubbles swims furiously towards him as he is inspecting the trunk where he keeps his, erm, bubbles... This 7-second character introduction became one of the most quotable lines in the film, right up there with Dory’s “Just keep swimming!”

Sharkbait ooh-ha-ha!
From Mount Wanna-hock-a-loogie to the Ring of Fire, Nemo’s induction to the tank is hilarious as the gang pulls off a rather anti-climatic “serious” ceremony. Ending with Gurgle’s final “Sharkbait” awkwardly trailing off, everything about this scene is absolutely priceless.

Marlin meets Dory
If you were a kid when this movie came out, no doubt you could recite this scene forward and backwards, blindfolded with your hands tied. Between Dory’s apologetic explanation of her condition and Marlin’s disbelief, this scene gets better and better with every line.

Squirt gives the run-down
Crush and Squirt put on an air of professionalism to help their new fish friends properly exit the current. Dory’s unwavering attention to their advice contrasts hilariously with Marlin’s look of sheer panic (“It’s like he’s trying to speak to me I know it!”) as they try to figure out just what Squirt means by “rip it, roll it, and punch it.”

Just keep swimming
No list would be complete without Dory’s favourite phrase (second only to “P. Sherman 42 Wallaby Way Sydney I remembered it again!”) It’s hard not to laugh as she happily breaks out into an opera version while leading Marlin down to the darkest part of the eerie ocean floor.

Fish are friends
So a great white shark invites you to his party. What could possibly go wrong? At least that’s what Dory is thinking (definitely not Marlin). Thanks to the now-famous pledge (“fish are friends, not food!”), this scene is infinitely quotable – and, if you thought it was great before, just wait until you see these sharks in 3D!

Dory meets Squishy
Dory unknowingly tries to befriend – but instead gets stung by – a tiny baby jellyfish, and the pair soon realizes they should have heeded her warning. But Dory’s adorably innocent attempt to adopt the jellyfish always brings a smile to any viewer’s face.

Marlin meets Crush
Crush and Squirt give Marlin and Dory a proper lesson in exit etiquette and send them on their way, but not before giving us the most quotable scene in the entire movie. Now give me some fin, dude, yeah totally awesome, noggin!

The sharks’ meeting goes terribly wrong when Bruce-I-Never-Knew-My-Father gets a whiff of Dory’s blood and forgets his “fish are friends” promise. But Dory saves the day by remembering that oh yeah she can read! Well, sort of. Either way, this line never gets old.