Saturday, November 9, 2013

Maidentrip : Youngest ever solo circumnavigating sailor - now the film

From Sail-World

Sometimes it just warms your heart to see a film finally getting the attention it deserves.
It has just been announced that the wonderful SXSW Audience Award-winning documentary MAIDENTRIP, about the circumnavigation of the globe by solo sailor and 16-year-old Laura Dekker, will be setting sail from First Run Features in New York on January 17th.

Who knows when it will come to the Southern Hemisphere, but the trailer is at the end of this story.
This has been a labor of love by director Jillian Schlesinger and producer Emily McAllister and the release news is a huge step towards helping this film find its surely adoring audience.

Directed, produced and shot by a team of young female filmmakers, the new highly acclaimed documentary film MAIDENTRIP celebrates the accomplishments of the intrepid young woman Laura Dekker and brings her complex and inspiring real-life story to the big screen.

In 1995 Laura Dekker was born on a boat in the port of Whangarei, New Zealand during her parents' seven-year voyage around the world on their sailboat.
At just six years of age, Laura sailed her own dinghy alone across the lake where she lived.
At the age of ten, she took a multi-week trip to Friesland, Netherlands accompanied only by her dog Spot.
Then, in 2009, at the age of 13 Laura announced her plans to sail solo around the globe.

 Laura Dekker arrives Sint Maarten 1
Photograph courtesy of

After a year-long court battle with Dutch authorities who attempted to stop her voyage and the unwanted global media scrutiny it sparked, 14-year-old Laura Dekker finally set out--camera in hand--on a two-year solo voyage in pursuit of her dream, alone without a follow boat or a support team, on her transformative 27,000 mile global odyssey.
During the longest leg of her trip across the Indian Ocean, Laura spent 47 days alone at sea.

Laura's dream was 'to be the youngest ever to sail around the world alone,' but she didn't want to set a speed record.
Instead, she sought to experience the remote and wonderful corners of the planet on her own,stopping to explore along the way.

Jillian Schlesinger's debut feature film MAIDENTRIP captures Laura's journey as she explores the world in search of freedom, adventure, and distant dreams of her early youth at sea.
Schlesinger's filmmaking amplifies Laura's mature, brave and defiant voice through a mix of Laura's own video and voice recordings from sea and the intimate vérité footage shot at the stunning stops along the route, including the Galapagos Islands, French Polynesia, Australia, and South Africa.

Links :

Friday, November 8, 2013

Super Typhoon Haiyan, one of strongest storms ever, plows across Philippines

From CNN

Super Typhoon Haiyan -- one of the strongest storms recorded on the planet -- smashed into island after island as it plowed across the central Philippines on Friday, threatening millions of people.
It left devastation in its wake, flooding streets and knocking out power and communication networks in many areas.
Three people were reported dead, more than 100,000 took refuge in evacuation centers and hundreds of flights were canceled.

 >>> geolocalization with the Marine GeoGarage <<<

The storm brought tremendously powerful winds roaring ashore as it made landfall on Samar, a hilly island in the region of Eastern Visayas.
With sustained winds of 315 kph (195 mph) and gusts as strong as 380 kph (235 mph), Haiyan was probably the strongest tropical cyclone to hit land anywhere in the world in recorded history.
It will take further analysis after the storm passes to establish whether it is a record.

After Samar, the typhoon slammed into four other Philippine islands as it barreled across the archipelago.
Maryann Zamora, a field communications specialist for the charity World Vision, said her organization "has been working through so many disasters, so many typhoons -- but this is quite different."
"This is the strongest I ever felt so far," she said by phone from the island of Cebu.

Category 5 strength

Haiyan, known in the Philippines as Yolanda, appeared to retain much of its terrifying force as it moved west over the country, with sustained winds of 295 kph (185 mph), gusts as strong as 360 kph (225 mph).
Haiyan's wind strength makes it equivalent to a Category 5 hurricane.
Video footage from on the ground in the Philippines showed streets flooded with debris and howling winds hurling metal sheets through the air.

Gov. Roger Mercado of Southern Leyte, a province in Eastern Visayas close to the storm's path, said Friday morning that "all roads" were impassable because of fallen trees.
He said it was too soon to gauge the level of devastation caused by Haiyan.
"We don't know the extent of the damage," Mercado said.
"We are trying to estimate this. We are prepared, but this is really a wallop."

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said Friday that so far three people had been confirmed dead and seven injured. With sea travel suspended in large parts of the country, more than 3,000 travelers were stranded in ports, the council said.
The typhoon was forecast to move away from the Philippines late Friday or early Saturday and head out into the South China Sea in the direction of Vietnam
Forecasters predicted that it would maintain super typhoon intensity throughout its passage over the Philippines.
A super typhoon has surface winds that sustain speeds of more than 240 kph (150 mph) for at least a minute, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Haiyan was so large in diameter that at one point, its clouds were affecting two-thirds of the country, which stretches more than 1,850 kilometers (1,150 miles).
Tropical-storm-force winds extended 240 kilometers from the typhoon's center.

Photos: Super Typhoon Haiyan
Photos: Super Typhoon Haiyan

'Very real danger'

Ahead of the typhoon's arrival, thousands of people had been relocated away from particularly vulnerable areas in Tacloban City, which is situated in a coastal area of the region that bore the initial brunt of the storm.
Communications with Tacloban, which has a population of around 200,000, were disrupted after the typhoon struck.
Video aired by CNN affiliate ABS-CBN showed streets in the city flooded with water and debris.

In a speech Thursday, President Benigno S. Aquino III warned residents of the "calamity our countrymen will face in these coming days."
"Let me repeat myself: This is a very real danger, and we can mitigate and lessen its effects if we use the information available to prepare," he said.
Authorities have aircraft ready to respond, and officials have placed relief supplies in the areas that are expected to get hit, Aquino said.
"The effects of this storm can be eased through solidarity," he said.

 Rate of sea level rise near Philippines 3 or 4 times global average

Earthquake survivors vulnerable

Authorities warned provinces across the country to be prepared for possible flash floods, landslides and a storm surge as high as seven meters (23 feet).
About 125,000 people nationwide were moved to evacuation centers
Some of the most vulnerable people are those living in temporary shelters on the central Philippine island of Bohol, which experienced heavy wind and rain Friday but was spared a direct hit by Haiyan.

 >>> geolocalization with the Marine GeoGarage <<<

Last month, a 7.1-magnitude earthquake hit the island, killing at least 222 people, injuring nearly 1,000 and displacing about 350,000, according to authorities.
"This has been a quake hit area, for the past three weeks people are still experiencing aftershocks," said Aaron Aspi, a communications specialist in Bohol for World Vision. "and at the same time these rains are giving them a really hard time."
"Most of them are advised to evacuate to sturdy structures," he said.
"But there are a few thousand displaced families in quake hit areas that are still staying in makeshift tents and now that the super typhoon is here it is really heart breaking to see them struggling."
Aspi said many peoples' tents were drenched but they were still too afraid to relocate to enclosed structures because of the aftershocks.

Beach resort threatened

  >>> geolocalization with the Marine GeoGarage <<<

Another island near the storm's path is the popular beach resort of Boracay.
Some tourists there were cutting their vacations short Thursday to get away from the possible danger.
Ross Evans, an aviation professional from Florida, said there was "a definite urgency and panic" among the long lines of holidaymakers waiting for boats to get off Boracay on Thursday.
Speaking by phone before his flight to Manila took off, he said he felt "horrible" for those who may end up stuck in the storm's path.
Evans said he and his travel companions, who are leaving the Philippines two days earlier than planned, "feel very fortunate to have the ability to make arrangements to be safe."
Situated near an area of the Pacific Ocean where tropical cyclones form, the Philippines regularly suffers severe storm damage.
An average of 20 typhoons hit the archipelagic nation every year, and several of those cause serious damage.
In December, Typhoon Bopha wreaked widespread devastation on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao.
The storm, the most powerful to hit the country that year, is estimated to have killed as many as 1,900 people.

Links :
  • WashingtonPost : Super typhoon Haiyan strikes Philippines, among strongest storms ever 
  • BBC :  Monster storm roars into Philippines
  • Force13 : Western Pacific typhoon tracking
  • TheWeatherChannel : Super Typhoon Haiyan, strongest of season, slams the Philippines
  • WeatherUnderground : interactive map and radar

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Climate Mapping Tool you've been waiting for

Introducing "NOAAView", a new online tool from NOAA Satellite and Information Service:
Explore a world of data!

Now you can visualize Earth's land, skies, seas and ice-cover conditions over time through just a few clicks. Want to see the extent of dissolved oxygen in the Atlantic Ocean in November?

Or the amount of vegetation in the Midwest in February?
NOAA put more than 60 data sets and a map of the world in the palm of your hand.

From TheAtlanticCities (by John Metcalfe)

Weather geeks, say goodbye to your morning productivity.
The data conjurers at NOAA have rolled their latest environmental visualization out of the hanger, and it is bursting with every possible thing you'd want to know about the planet's health, from past to present to worrisome future.

Want to know what the clouds like looked during your city's last nasty storm?
The "NOAA View" portal has crisp satellite images stretching 5 years back.
Curious where snow and ice have accumulated this year?
The frozen stuff is splashed about the globe like splattered white frosting.
How hot will the weather soon be if humanity doesn't rein in its emissions?
One of the several simulations crammed into this Swiss Army climate tool has this prediction: It will be blastedly warm, despite our best attempts to stop burning fossil fuels.

 An animation made in NOAA View showing monthly shifts
in sea surface temperatures around the globe.

Here's a closer look at that particular climate model.
It displays expected temperature anomalies above the 20th-century average as angry red areas, with the darkest-crimson hues representing warm spikes as high as 6 degrees Celsius above average.
(Blue regions are below-average abnormalities, but you won't be seeing many of those.)
These are the predicted air temperatures in 2100 under a "low" emissions scenario; notice the hot zones have pooled in the United States and parts of central Asia:

And the world is positively choking in torrid air by 2100 under a "very-high emissions scenario":

On Tuesday, NOAA pitched its new visualization tool this way:
The NOAA View imagery portal provides a single point for experiencing NOAA data from satellites, models, and in-situ analyses. The site allows for seamless browse, animate, and download capability of high resolution images and Google Earth formatted files. With over 60 datasets (and growing) that go as far back as 1880 and out to 2100, NOAA View provides the ability to see our dynamic planet and how it changes over weeks, months, years and even decades.
Given our instinctive desire to not, you know, suffer, it's natural to want to use this tool to root out the most pressing threats to the planet.
NOAA has done a good job with one of those, ocean acidification, in this simulation:

What you're looking at is how the seas' chemistry could turn toxic for many organisms by the end of the century.

Explains NOAA:
The two globes illustrate the changes in ocean acidification that are expected as the ocean continually absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. As more and more carbon dioxide reacts with water, the building blocks of the calcium carbonate shells used by so many marine organisms either dissolve or cannot form to begin with. The availability of these building blocks (called aragonite; a form of calcium carbonate) is shown here. Areas of the ocean colored green are sufficiently saturated with aragonite to support shell formation; areas colored yellowish-brown are under-saturated, and shell dissolution occurs. A climate model, run by CESM in collaboration with scientists at NOAA PMEL, shows the change in ocean aragonite saturation from 1885 to what is expected in 2094. Most of the ocean in the image on the right is uninhabitable by organisms using calcium carbonate, such as corals, pteropods, oysters, and many others.
What other fun, doom-laden stuff can you find with NOAA View?
Let's take a brief tour, beginning with sea-surface temperature anomalies for late October to the present day.
Researchers have plucked out the abnormally warmer and cooler regions in red and blue, respectively.
Many researchers believe that the oceans have acted like a vast sponge for the emissions that humans have been pumping out, with some areas of the Pacific warming 15 times faster in the past six decades than in the previous 10,000 years, according to one study in Science.
 A scientist told USA Today: "We may have underestimated the efficiency of the oceans as a storehouse for heat and energy. It may buy us some time – how much time, I don't really know. But it's not going to stop climate change":

This map shows the concentrations of dissolved phosphates in the water.

That big purple blotch at center is the Black Sea, a vast septic tank of phosphates thanks in part to fertilizer leaching from farmlands and municipal sewage discharges (geography also plays a role):

And here's Superstorm Sandy bombing the East Coast last October.
There's no consensus among climate scientists about whether more greenhouse gas means more hurricanes and major Sandy-like storms, according to NOAA, although these systems will probably grow to hold more precipitation.

And as the big spinners continue to pound America, they'll likely cause more damage due to higher sea levels pushing the tides farther inland:

These are just a few random things I found interesting while poking around in NOAA View.
Snap crackle pop – here are fires that were active at the end of October:

Snow and ice cover in the U.S. for the first week of November:

This is the current global rainfall as seen by satellites.
"This rainfall data is especially important for monitoring offshore precipitation events before they impact land," NOAA says.
"In general, the highest rainfall totals are found in tropical areas, where warm water and air temperatures create belts of precipitation":

Rainfall is quite different from the amount of moisture in the atmosphere, seen here for this week (lighter blues are really dripping-wet air):

And finally, travel down to the deepest part of the ocean with this bathymetric landscape of the sea floor.
The black, sythe-shaped fissure to the south of Japan is the Mariana Trench, which sinks to depths of about 6.8 miles:

Images courtesy of NOAA View Data Imagery Portal

Links :
  • MarineExplore : the Ocean's Big Data Platform making sense of 4-dimensional marine data at scale

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Ortho littorale France Méditerrannée v2

Ortho littorale v2 (2011) MEDDE

All the aerial stitched pictures were made in the quest of optimum viewing
with the specific conditions:
no swell, no rain for 48 hours, large tide (foreshore) and lower low water (water depth less than 1m), ...

Porquerolles, baie de l'Alycastre (OrthoLittorale v2 view)
>>> geolocalization with the Marine GeoGarage <<<

Note : this layer can be accessible as any GeoGarage georeferenced layer for external webmapping applications via the GeoGarage API.
So don't hesitate to contact us if your are interested.

Ocean living: A step closer to reality?

Village on the sea
Mankind has long sought shelter on the sea.
Members of China’s Tanka community have been living in villages based entirely on water
for more than 1,200 years.
(Rex Features)

From BBC (by Charlie Deist)

Life on the sea has been one of mankind’s enduring visions, but the technology hasn’t been up to the task... until now. Are we on the cusp of housing communities permanently on the ocean?

The 1995 film Waterworld was one of Hollywood’s most infamous budget busters – a mega-million-dollar post-apocalyptic thriller that, at the time, cost more than any other film ever made.
It did a pretty decent job of sinking Kevin Costner’s career for the rest of the decade.
More importantly, it may also have helped do the same to the idea of mankind living on the sea.

 Waterworld (movie)

Though scientists aren’t predicting sea-level rises of the magnitude seen in Waterworld – hundreds of feet thanks to melting polar ice caps – we may have to plan for a world with much higher sea levels.
There has long been a dream that one day mankind, or at least some of us, will live on the ocean.
Designer and architect Buckminster Fuller saw cities at sea contributing to a sustainable future for humanity.
But then floating cities evoked images of flop films, or worse, of wealthy “robber barons” escaping to the high seas for financial reasons.
Now, several groups are trying to change this perception by researching technologies that could help create floating cities, or “seasteads”, which become innovative models of sustainability and peaceful cooperation.

Does this sound too futuristic?
Then consider China’s Fujian Province, where the Tanka people have been settled at sea since 700AD.
Pushed into coastal waters in wartime during the Tang Dynasty, these boat dwellers weren’t allowed to set foot on land until the second half of the 20th Century. Today, some 7,000 Tankas still maintain a sea farming life – possibly a preview of a future to come for many more of us.
Before the industrialisation of agriculture, most people lived in land-based villages no larger or more complex than the Tankas’ simple water-based community.
It took a series of green revolutions in farming technology to allow people to leave rural communities, and move into densely-populated urban areas.
We see signs that a “blue revolution” in ocean harvesting technology is underway, suggesting floating cities can’t be far off.

Supply issues

It may be a necessity – not merely a novelty – to inhabit the sea in the coming decades, but to do so will require the means to create reliable and sustainable food and power souces.
Dwindling fish stocks from overfishing have prompted humanity to create farmed supplies, beginning with the most accessible environments on or near land.
Yet most fish farming has not evolved beyond the low-tech cages and seaweed-draped lines anchored in shallow seas by ancient peoples like the Tankas.
The most advanced methods of mass production employ harmful antibiotics and genetically modified feed in unnaturally crowded ponds on land.

Farms on the current 
Hawaii-based Kampachi Farms have created a fish cage that can be towed
and flushed clean by ocean currents, cutting down on pollution.

But the drawbacks of current fish farming has created opportunities for technology like the floating “drifter pens” pioneered by Kampachi Farms.
Given enough time, Kampachi Farms will replace stagnant ponds with GPS-tracked cages stitched out of copper wire to enable a constant inflow of fresh ocean water without flushing out the precious fish.
These geodesic aquariums, inspired by Fuller’s prototypes for sturdy light-weight structures, will be let loose in swirling ocean gyres, where they only need occasional course-correction to maintain a rough position.
This will be accomplished by nimble harvesting vessels driven by pioneers of this new life on the water.

Collapsing fisheries are of immediate concern, but land-based agriculture may also be in danger due to a predicted shortage of the crucial nutrient phosphorus by the year 2050.
Once again, there could be a solution out at sea.

Blue Revolution Hawaii, led by Professor Patrick Takahashi, is another group planning for a future with thousands of floating cities.
Takahashi and his team have devised a plan to enable large ships equipped with ocean thermal electric conversion, or Otec plants, in which warm surface waters interact with cold water “upwelled” from the deep ocean to drive a large power turbine.
The cool water pumped to the surface contains the exact ratio of nutrients – including phosphorus – needed to support plant growth.

Otec technology has already been tested in Hawaii, and China’s Reignwood group recently announced plans to complete a 10 megawatt plant – the first on the open-ocean – not far from the Fujian Province in China’s southern seas.
Living space may be cramped at first, but the abundant sunlight and acres surrounding these pods will be enough to feed vast ocean ranches, supercharged by Otec’s nutrient-rich byproduct.
At the bottom of this food chain, algae will feed fish, which feed bigger fish, which will in turn feed seafarers and land-lubbers alike.
Sinking fish waste and seaweed detritus will gradually sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and deposit it on the seafloor to restart nature’s eons-long process of creating fossil fuels.
By 2050, it’s not far-fetched to imagine hundreds of these plants grazing the high seas, trading abundant seafood surpluses with cities on land.

 From rig to refuge
Shell is planning to build a massive floating structure, the Prelude Floating Liquefied Natural Gas facility, which could then be converted after gas is exploited.

Meanwhile, Shell is preparing to anchor the world’s largest floating offshore structure – the Prelude Floating Liquefied Natural Gas facility – off Australia’s north-west coast in 2014.
The structure will be massive – the length of four football fields and one field wide.
It will be built to withstand Category Five typhoons, and will produce the natural gas equivalent of 100,000 barrels of oil per day.
While few groups could afford to build a floating city capable of weathering such storms, Shell’s example demonstrates the long-lived feasibility of living on the sea.
In fact, most fundamental challenges of living safely on the ocean have been solved by offshore drilling or shipping companies (cruise lines got satellite internet years ago, while most of Asia and Africa still lack it).
Costs will fall over time.
And what is Shell going to do with Prelude once all the natural gas runs out?
The infrastructure for a marine community will be waiting to be used.

Free floating

 Blue horizons
The Seasteading Institute is investigating several designs, including one where pre-fabricated dwellings are delivered by cargo ships.
(Anthony Ling/Seasteading Institute) 

The Seasteading Institute has also been dealing with the challenges faced by communities trying to live permanently on the ocean.
It is an audacious but essentially pragmatic endeavour.
Taking a cue from the Tanka people, the plan is locate in the protected, territorial waters of a nation willing to “host” the structures and their inhabitants.
With help from the Dutch aquatic architecture firm DeltaSync, the institute hopes to design something that will meet the needs of residents, and the host nation.
From a calm coastal area, the logistical challenges needed allow a community to live on the high seas can be solved one at a time.

 Floating concept
British designer Phil Pauley’s concept is of floating modules that can be rest on the surface in good weather – and submerge when conditions worsen.

British designer Phil Pauley has developed a concept for a sea habitat comprising interconnected spherical modules that could submerge during storms and rest at the surface in good weather.
The long vertical trusses holding up Pauley’s design use Fuller’s principles for strong, lightweight “tensegrity” structures.
They maximise support without using too much expensive material such as steel.
To reach much deeper waters, communities will ditch the stilts and float freely or anchor.
Others are trying investigating this technique on a smaller scale too.
Do-it-yourself sea-living enthusiast Vince Cate has been using prototyping simple “ball stead” homes, which achieve buoyancy and stable surface “real estate.”
Testing models in the Caribbean Sea, near his home in Anguilla, Cate has found that suspending a heavy weight well below the surface keeps the ball from moving amid the waves.

 Light but strong
The modules use famed designer Buckminster Fuller’s idea of tensegrity – making strong but lightweight structures that use little in the way of steel.

And these structures could last for a very long time indeed.
Simple cement structures, reinforced with steel, can displace massive amounts of water, and last for decades - or even centuries.
Even after 2,000 years of the sea’s harsh beating, a Roman harbour built with a mixture of standard concrete and volcanic ash is still intact.
Electro-accretion – essentially sticking concrete-like minerals on galvanized underwater structures – means electrified steel mesh could eventually be used to reinforce and repair underwater concrete structures.

 Luxury living
Some of the designs for ocean living resemble five-star hotels.
Life on the oceans may include all the creature comforts we expect.
(Andras Gyorfi/Seasteading Institute)

The first floating city is expected to take to the water around 2020.
We are already researching ways to harvest food and energy in deeper, more remote parts of the ocean. Future cities built from scratch will be more dynamic, energy-efficient and flexible.
These cities of the sea could use algal biofuel production and store energy from wind and the Sun.
As designs improve – and get cheaper – the idea of a home on the ocean will become more affordable.

Does all of this sound crazy?
In a sense, it is.
But some would prefer to be called crazy than to pretend our cities and species can keep going with the status quo.

Links :

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Third time unlucky for Antarctic protection bid

From Nature

The future of the Antarctic — and of the respected international body that governs it — has been jeopardized by another failure to agree on improving environmental protection for the region, scientists warned on Friday 1st.

Help protect Antarctica's great Southern Ocean

For the third time, the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) could not reach agreement on a proposal backed by the European Union, the United States and New Zealand to ban fishing in 1.25 million square kilometres of the Ross Sea.
The plan would establish the world's largest marine reserve, which some researchers say is among the most precious and endangered areas of the polar region.
The Antarctic Ocean Alliance group of non-governmental organizations blamed Russia and Ukraine for blocking the proposals at a meeting in Hobart, Australia, today.
Steve Campbell, the campaign director of the Antarctic Ocean Alliance, said that the result inevitably raised questions about whether CCAMLR could deliver on its commitments to conservation.
Previously, the organization has been well thought of, and is sometimes cited as a good example of how nations can work together to avoid depleting an important common natural resource.
However, the commercial attractiveness of Antarctic fisheries has grown, and a tension between the conservation of this polar wilderness and its exploitation has become increasingly apparent.
“We are worried about CCAMLR’s mandate. We are worried about CCAMLR’s role,” says Campbell.

The Ross Sea, where this killer whale was photographed, is at risk of increased commercial exploitation, but a proposal to place it under protected status has failed to get a 'yes' vote for the third time in a row.

Donald LeRoi, NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center, NSF

CCAMLR is made up of representatives from 24 countries and the European Union, all of which have to agree if proposals such as the marine reserves are to be accepted.
At last year’s meeting in Hobart, proposals for reserves in the Ross Sea, East Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula all failed.
But in an unusual move, another meeting was scheduled in Germany for July this year, raising hopes that at least the Ross Sea proposal would be successful.

However, come July, the Russian delegation became the bête noire of those pushing for the reserves, as agreement on the plans was again not found.
Now, history has repeated itself in Hobart, even though the Ross Sea proposal up for debate this year aimed to protect a smaller area than previous plans.

In a statement distributed by the Australian Science Media Centre, Clive Evans, a researcher at the University of Auckland who has worked on some of the toothfish that live in the Ross Sea, said:
"The failure of CCAMLR to reach consensus on a significantly watered-down proposal from New Zealand and the USA for a marine protected area in the Ross Sea is a victory for political gamesmanship and a slap on the other cheek for [New Zealand], the USA and indeed CCAMLR itself from components of its body corporate.”
Campbell remains positive that the proposals have a fighting chance at next year’s meeting, however, and says that CCAMLR still has an important part to play.
“CCAMLR is a bit of a moon shot — it happens once a year,” he says.
“It was another moon shot this year. Maybe next year we’ll get there.”

Links :

Monday, November 4, 2013

Too big to sail? Cruise ships face scrutiny

The Allure of the seas from Royal Caribbean International is the largest cruise ship in the world.

From NYTimes

One of the largest cruise ships in 1985 was the 46,000-ton Carnival Holiday.
Ten years ago, the biggest, the Queen Mary 2, was three times as large.
Today’s record holders are two 225,000-ton ships whose displacement, a measure of a ship’s weight, is about the same as that of a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier.

Cruise ships have grown bigger and bigger in recent years
as cruising has become ever more popular.

Cruise ships keep growing bigger, and more popular.
The Cruise Lines International Association said that last year its North American cruise line members carried about 17 million passengers, up from seven million in 2000.
But the expansion in ship size is worrying safety experts, lawmakers and regulators, who are pushing for more accountability, saying the supersize craze is fraught with potential peril for passengers and crew.
“Cruise ships operate in a void from the standpoint of oversight and enforcement,” said James E. Hall, a safety management consultant and the chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board between 1994 and 2001. “The industry has been very fortunate until now.” 

The perils were most visible last year when the Costa Concordia, owned by the Carnival Corporation, which is based in Miami, capsized off the coast of Italy.
The accident killed 32 people and revealed fatal lapses in safety and emergency procedures. 
In February, a fire crippled the Carnival Triumph, stranding thousands without power for four days in the Gulf of Mexico until the ship was towed to shore.
Another blaze forced Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas to a port in the Bahamas in May.
Pictures showed the ship’s stern blackened by flames and smoke. 

Although most have not resulted in any casualties, the string of accidents and fires has heightened concerns about the ability of megaships to handle emergencies or large-scale evacuations at sea.
Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, Democrat of West Virginia, introduced legislation this summer that would strengthen federal oversight of cruise lines’ safety procedures and consumer protections.
Cruise operators point out that bigger ships have more fire safety equipment, and contend they are safer.
After a fire aboard the Carnival Splendor three years ago, Carnival adopted new training procedures and added safety features that it says helped with the rapid detection and suppression of the fire on the Triumph.
After the Triumph fire, Carnival also announced it would spend $700 million to improve its safety operations, including $300 million on its fleet of 24 Carnival Cruise Lines ships.

Carnival is the largest cruise operator, owning about half of all cruise ships worldwide.
“We have over time improved the safety of our vessels by better training and better technology and learning from incidents that have happened over the years,” said Mark Jackson, Carnival’s vice president for technical operations, who joined the company in January after 24 years with the Coast Guard. 

Staying the Course: The Challenge of Navigational Demand

Some experts doubt that ships can grow much larger than the current behemoths, marvels of naval engineering that combine the latest technology and entertainment.
Today’s biggest ship, Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas, has 2,706 rooms, 16 decks, 22 restaurants, 20 bars and 10 hot tubs, as well as a shopping mall, a casino, a water park, a half-mile track, a zip line, mini golf and Broadway-style live shows.
It can accommodate nearly 6,300 passengers and 2,394 crew members — the equivalent of a small town towering over the clear blue waters of the Caribbean Sea.
It measures 1,188 feet long. Its sister ship, the Oasis of the Seas, is two inches shorter. 

Experts point out that larger ships have larger challenges.
For instance, they have fewer options in an emergency, said Michael Bruno, dean of the engineering school at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, N.J., and former chairman of the National Research Council’s Marine Board.
“Given the size of today’s ships, any problem immediately becomes a very big problem,” he said.
“I sometimes worry about the options that are available.” 

A recent report by the Coast Guard on the Splendor fire revealed glaring problems with the crew’s firefighting abilities as well as failures in fire safety equipment.
The investigation did not address the size of the ship, which carried 3,299 passengers.
But it showed that big vessels can quickly become crippled by small fires that disable complex systems.
No passengers were hurt, but the damage to the engine room was severe, disabling the ship’s power and forcing it to be towed to port in San Diego. 

The investigation found a wide range of problems with the engine’s maintenance history as well as missing fire safety records.
No fire drills had been conducted in the engine room for six months.
Emergency sprinklers were turned off by mistake and then doused the wrong parts of the engine room.
Believing the fire had been contained, the captain vented the engine room to clear out the smoke. He reignited the fire instead. 

These incidents have brought new attention to the behavior of cruise operators.
Rear Adm. Joseph Servidio, the Coast Guard’s assistant commandant for prevention policy, said at a Senate hearing in July that the three fires, including the one aboard the Splendor, “highlight serious questions about the design, maintenance and operation of fire safety equipment on board these vessels, as well as their companies’ safety management cultures.”  

In July, the Coast Guard said cruise ships would need to conduct periodic engine-room fire drills.
The risks of building bigger ships became apparent over a decade ago, as cruise companies pushed the limits of naval architecture.
The head of the International Maritime Organization, the United Nations agency in charge of marine regulations, warned in 2000 of the growing hazards of building larger ships and called for a comprehensive review of safety rules, known as Safety of Life at Sea, or Solas.
William O’Neil, the group’s secretary general at the time, said the industry could not “rely on luck holding indefinitely.”
One result was a set of new global regulations in 2010 called the Safe Return to Port rules.
Those require new ships to have sufficient redundant systems, including power and steerage, to allow them to return to port even in the worst emergency.
Only about 10 ships built since then comply with this new rule. 

“The idea is that a ship is its own best lifeboat,” said John Hicks, the vice president for global passenger ships at Lloyds Register, the largest ship classification society.
“The idea is to do everything to keep the crew and passengers on a vessel.”
Bud Darr, the senior vice president for technical and regulatory affairs at the Cruise Lines International Association, the industry’s trade group, said today’s ships operated under layers of oversight.

 Titanic and modern cruising ship comparison

The Coast Guard inspects each ship that calls at United States ports at least once a year and enforces national and international norms.
Private auditors, hired by cruise operators, perform frequent safety reviews, including comprehensive annual checks that last seven to 10 days, he said, and flag countries like the Bahamas or Panama, where most cruise ships are registered, provide their own oversight.
“We are subject to very close scrutiny,” Mr. Darr said.
“The standards are universal.” 

But incidents like the Costa Concordia grounding have raised questions about whether evacuation regulations are still applicable in the age of megaships.
Under the Solas regulations, for instance, passengers grouped at their muster stations must be able to evacuate on lifeboats within 30 minutes of an evacuation alarm.
The investigation into the Costa Concordia revealed that the crew and its captain failed to sound the general evacuation alarm for more than an hour after rocks had breached the hull.
As a result, some lifeboats could not be lowered once the ship started to list.
After the accident, cruise operators said they would change muster drill procedures.
Instead of holding a drill for passengers within 24 hours of departure, cruise ships said they would do so before ships leave a port. 

While ships are becoming bigger, the burden on crew members is growing.
The Queen Elizabeth 2, which was launched in 1969, had one crew member for about 1.8 passengers. On the Triumph, the ratio was one crew member for every 2.8 passengers. The issue is also complicated by language and communication problems, and a high crew turnover rate that can reach 35 percent a year.
The International Transport Workers’ Federation, which represents seafarers and crew members, has expressed concerns about the evacuation time and suggested the need to limit the number of people aboard ships, depending on where they operate and what search-and-rescue facilities are available.
“Experience has cast doubt on the adequacy of existing lifesaving appliances,” the group said in a report.
“The current equipment, especially lifeboats and life rafts, has proved to be inadequate when confronted with high sea states.” 

Safety rules also state that lifeboats should not carry more than 150 people.

The World's Largest Sister Ships Meet: OASIS and ALLURE together for the first time

But the two largest ships, the Allure of the Seas and the Oasis of the Seas, have much bigger lifeboats, for 370 people, because of a provision of the 2010 rules that allows for exemptions if the cruise line can demonstrate an equivalent level of safety. 

Those bigger lifeboats have only enough room for passengers.
To evacuate the more than 2,300 crew members, the ships are equipped with inflatable rafts that would have to be entered through 59-foot evacuation chutes.
“The simple problem is they are building them too big and putting too many people aboard,” said Capt. William H. Doherty, a former safety manager for Norwegian Cruise Lines, the world’s third-largest cruise operator, and now the director of maritime relations at the Nexus Consulting Group. “My answer is they probably exceeded the point of manageability.”
He added, “The magnitude of the problem is much bigger than the cruise industry wants to acknowledge.”

Links : 
  • National Post : Too big to sail: After a string of high-profile mishaps, have the world’s cruise ships gotten dangerously large?
  • YouTube : Oasis compared to Titanic II

Canada CHS update in the Marine GeoGarage

40 charts have been updated (October 31, 2013) :
    • 1316 PORT DE QUÉBEC
    • 3677 KYUQUOT SOUND
    • 4013 HALIFAX TO / À SYDNEY
    So 689 charts (1662 including sub-charts) are available in the Canada CHS layer. (see coverage)

    Note : don't forget to visit 'Notices to Mariners' published monthly and available from the Canadian Coast Guard both online or through a free hardcopy subscription service.
    This essential publication provides the latest information on changes to the aids to navigation system, as well as updates from CHS regarding CHS charts and publications.
    See also written Notices to Shipping and Navarea warnings : NOTSHIP

    Sunday, November 3, 2013

    Image of the week : the underwater waterfall illusion

    An underwater waterfall, an exceptional illusion, located at the Southwestern tip of the Mauritius island.
    When viewed from above, you can clearly see a runoff of sand creating the impression of an ‘underwater waterfall’.

    view in Google Earth

    >>> geolocalization with the Marine GeoGarage <<<