Saturday, July 26, 2014

Canada CHS nautical chart layer : caution with vertical clearances

Message from Director of CHS Products and Services (25/07/2014)


The Canadian Hydrographic Service (CHS) would like to let you know of that the vertical clearances on charts and equivalent BSB are inaccurate :

1313 Batiscan au/to Lac Saint-Pierre
1314 Donnacona à/to Batiscan
4026 Havre Saint-Pierre et/and Cap des Rosiers à/to Pointe des Monts
4275 St. Peters Bay
2250 Bruce Mines to/à Sugar Island
2283-1, 2283-2 Owen Sound to/à Giant's Tomb Island
4266 Sydney Harbour
4201 Halifax Harbour - Bedford Basin

Notships will be issued shortly.
Notmar will be issued in the next edition.

TP-52 worlds in Sardinia

TP 52 Worlds -- filmed by Drone from Pigeon Vision

Winds were 8-13 knots : TP52 World Championship, June 11 in Porto Cervo

Friday, July 25, 2014

Deep sea mining licences issued

Hydrothermal Vents: What does the future hold?
Since being discovered in 1977, Hydrothermal Vents have been a source of huge interest, due to their rich diversity and huge populations of new and specialised species in a comparatively baron and homogenous abyss.
The mineral rich chimneys spew out a sulphurous fluid which forms an energy source for microbes, forming the base of these fascinating and unique ecosystems.
Their isolation and mysterious interconnectivity reveals a fragile web of life that still has so much more left to be fully appreciated.
The vents have also caught the attention of deep-sea mining contractors.

30 years on from their initial discovery, the global population has doubled and commodity prices have increased.
Now, with new technological advances, deep-sea mining has become an imminent reality.
Specialist researcher, Dr Jon Copley, talks through his experiences with Hydrothermal Vents and how irresponsible and short-sighted mining practices may have potentially catastrophic consequences on an ecosystem we still do not fully understand.

From BBC by David Shukman

Vast new areas of the ocean floor have been opened up in an accelerating search for valuable minerals including manganese, copper and gold.

In a move that brings closer a new era of deep sea mining, the UN's International Seabed Authority (ISA) has issued seven new exploration licences.
State-owned and private companies from India, Brazil, Singapore and Russia are among those to land permission for minerals prospecting.
One British firm, UK Seabed Resources, a subsidiary of the US defence giant Lockheed Martin, has secured exploration rights to an area larger than the entire UK.

 For decades, the idea of mining these deposits was dismissed as unfeasible

This means that the total area of seabed now licensed in this new gold rush has reached an immense 1.2 million square kilometres under 26 different permits for minerals prospecting.
Deep sea mining is a new frontier in the quest for the precious raw materials needed for modern economies but environmental groups have long warned of the potential damage to marine ecosystems.
Mining the ocean floor was first investigated in the 1960s but only recently have technological advances - spurred by the oil and gas industry - and high prices for resources combined to make operations feasible.

The ISA was set up to manage the exploitation of the ocean floor beyond territorial limits to prevent a free-for-all and has so far only issued licences for exploration.
The first permits for exploitation could come in the next few years.

Nodules are a target for extraction - these small lumps of rock contain high proportions of metals

Michael Lodge of the ISA told the BBC: "There's definitely growing interest. Most of the latest group are commercial companies so they're looking forward to exploitation in a reasonably short time - this move brings that closer."
Still to be negotiated are the conditions and rules for actual mining.

Sustainable Seabed Mining: A New Concept For Atlantis II Deep

A protocol to minimise the environmental impact is still being drawn up.
And arrangements for royalties to be paid to developing and landlocked countries have yet to be settled - a basic principle of the ISA is that seabed riches should be shared globally.
Two of the new licences - for German and Indian organisations - cover deep ocean ridges where hydrothermal vents have created potentially rich deposits.

Dr Jon Copley of the University of Southampton, a marine biologist, has monitored the development of deep sea mining amid concerns about its possible effects on the natural world.
"In total, about 6,000 km of mid-ocean ridge in international waters are now being explored for potential seafloor mining. In total, around 7.5% of the global mid-ocean ridge - the geological backbone of our planet - is now being explored for its mineral wealth.
"Ridges are one of the three deep-sea environments where there are mineral deposits attracting interest, in this case for the metal ores that form at deep-sea vents along the ridges.
"But those vents are also home to colonies of some species that aren't found in other deep ocean environments, which may make them susceptible to environmental impacts from mining."

UK Seabed Resources, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin UK, in partnership with the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, has received a licence and contract to explore a 58,000 sq kilometre area of the Pacific for mineral-rich polymetallic nodules.

UK Seabed Resources (UKSRL) conducted a baseline environmental survey of its licence area in the Pacific last October.

Construction of a seafloor mining machine was completed in the UK

It is hoping to extract so-called nodules from the ocean floor - small lumps of rock which contain far higher proportions of metals than ores found on land.
Duncan Cunningham of UKSRL said the company remained "committed to environmentally responsible, transparent and commercially sound development of the area".
He added: "We were extremely pleased to have had the opportunity to present details of our first environmental baseline cruise to the ISA and other stakeholders."

Deep-Ocean Vents Power Plant (Marshall Hydrothermal)

The first seabed mine is likely to be in the waters off Papua New Guinea.
In a deal arranged outside the ISA system, a Canadian company, Nautilus Minerals, plans to extract metals from a field of hydrothermal vents.
The project was delayed for years by a dispute with the PNG government but terms have now been finalised and huge robotic mining machines are being constructed.

Links :
  • BBC : UK Seabed Resources joins deep-ocean mineral-mining rush
  • TheGuardian : Seabed mining could earn Cook Islands 'tens of billions of dollars'

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Costa Concordia : the last travel

Follow the last route of Costa Concordia in Live with MarineTraffic

From BBC

The wrecked Italian cruise ship, the Costa Concordia, is being towed to the port of Genoa for scrapping after a two-year salvage operation.

Its removal is one of the biggest ever maritime salvage operations.
The Concordia struck a reef off the Italian island of Giglio in January 2012 and capsized, killing 32 people.
Captain Francesco Schettino has denied charges of multiple manslaughter and abandoning ship, which could see him jailed for up to 20 years.
The Costa Concordia was re-floated nine days ago and is being kept above the surface by giant buoyancy chambers.
More than a dozen vessels will help to tow the ship.

Costa Concordia Giglio wreck removal aerial view from drone

The wreck was hauled upright in September last year but was still partially submerged, resting on six steel platforms.
Sirens on nearby boats wailed and bells on Giglio tolled just before two tugboats pulled the vessel away.

Italian civil protection service head Franco Gabrielli told the Reuters news agency that "victory" could only be declared when the ship was in sight of the port of Genoa.
The cruise ship is being towed to Genoa at two knots, almost at walking pace, with an escort of more than a dozen tug boats.
The journey, which is expected to take four days, began shortly before 09:00 local time (07:00 GMT).

'Tragedy strike'

Senior salvage master Nick Sloane said early on Wednesday that everything was going according to plan.
However, French ecology minister Segolene Royal has said she will monitor the ship's movement from Corsica. Residents on the island fear that any oil leak from the cruise ship could cause significant environmental damage.

The Concordia is set to sail 25km (15 miles) from Corsica and close to the islands of Elba and Capraia before its expected arrival in Genoa late on Saturday.

A survivor of the tragedy told Reuters that initially he saw the area where the ship sunk as "a place where I saw tragedy strike", but over time his view had changed because it was a miracle that 4,000 people were saved.

Investigators are still looking for the body of Indian waiter Russel Rebello, whose body is the only one not to have been found.

The Costa Concordia's owners, Costa Crociere, estimate the operation to remove the wreck from the reef and tow it for scrapping will cost 1.5bn euros (£1.2bn; $2bn) in total.

Links :

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

This floating platform could filter the plastic from our polluted oceans

From ArchDaily

“Plastic is an extremely durable material, taking 500 years to biodegrade, yet it’s designed to be used for an average of 5 minutes, and so it’s thrown away. Few know where this mass of junk will end up … in the oceans, killing and silently destroying everything, even us.”

Cristian Ehrmantraut has developed a prototype for a floating platform that filters the ocean and absorbs plastic.
Located 4 km from the coast of Easter Island, close to the center of the mega-vortex of plastic located in the South Pacific, the tetrahedral platform performs a kind of dialysis, allowing the natural environment to be recovered as well as energy and food to be produced.

From the Architect.
The idea for the project comes from a reality that, although few realize it, affects us all: the disposable culture and its principal actor — plastic

Since the 1960s, plastic has become a part of our daily lives, allowing us, among other things, to extend our lifespan.
However, behind this remarkable reality lies an uncomfortable fact: plastic is an extremely durable material, taking 500 years to biodegrade, yet it’s designed to be used for an average of 5 minutes, and so it’s thrown away.
Few know where this mass of junk will end up … in the oceans, killing and silently destroying everything, even us.

Today there are six mega-vortexes of floating plastic: five between the continents and a sixth close to the Arctic, which is similar in size to Brazil (8.5 million square kilometers) and is 10 meters thick.
It is in this environment that Halobates – a wild insect that feeds on zooplankton – thrives.
The insect has experienced such exponential growth, in fact, that it’s endangering the zooplankton, essentially eliminating the base of the oceanic food chain.

Internal System

In the center of the mega-vortex of the South Pacific is Easter Island. Tons of micro-plastic trash arrive with every wave (Special Report – TVN – Plástico, el doble filo), making it a strategic place to start cleaning the global oceans.
Easter Island, which hosts over 50,000 tourists annually from all over the world, could well become the world’s referent for a new ecology, which, whether we like it or not, will be focused on cleaning up this disastrous mess for the next 1000 years (see the documentary: Charting the garbage patches of the sea).
This effort will enlist architecture, which will not only have to sustainably produce energy without polluting, but also actively clean the environment.

Thus, the project, which would be located 4 km off the coast of Easter island, is a prototype for a floating platform that filters the ocean, absorbs plastic, and protects the island from this ceaseless attack.


The design of the sub-structure is based on the application of the M.E.F. logic, which is similar to the Sierpinski fractal, but in three dimensions in order to achieve the overall coordination of the small, prefabricated elements. Its tetrahedral shape is simple, clean, stable, and static.

At the conceptual level, interesting things also occur, such as the verticality of the space in its natural state; just by being submerged, it’s possible to see the sky from below sea level.
Aspects of emergence at a non-invasive, horizontal level were also considered, which results in a volume no bigger than a freighter, with the habitable zone on the surface and the recycling zone underwater.
Ocean water is directed toward the recycling zone via gravity filters that separate the water from the plastic, which is later processed into plastic bricks, tiles, or anything that could be used to improve the quality of life of those in need.
The habitable zone also has gardens to produce food for its 65 workers, without having to resort to supplies from the Island.
The roof is made from photovoltaic cells.

To capture the plastic and lure it to the platform, we developed a modular system of rolling barriers that use the waves to separate the living from the inert, all while producing energy and preserving the free passage of fish, boats, etc.
Due to the the huge magnitude of ocean currents, a platform would be needed every several kilometers.

The ocean is dynamic, so it’s not necessary that the platforms move; eventually, all the water will pass through the same zone.

A range of platforms operating systematically will cover hundreds of kilometers – a good start to fixing the disaster we’ve all collectively caused.

So let’s get to work...

Floating cities

Links :

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

New nautical chart for Charleston harbor

NOAA new chart 11525 in the Marine GeoGarage

Expanded chart gives commercial vessels a safer transit into port.

The new nautical chart 11525 extends eastward, to cover an additional pilot boarding area for vessels headed to the Charleston Harbor.

 The red lines (not included on the actual chart) show the limits of the old chart 11523.

Ships entering the Port of Charleston will have a new and improved nautical chart that covers a larger area to ensure safer navigational approaches into the harbor.
Available on the 4th of July, new chart 11525 (Charleston Harbor Entrance and Approach) replaces the old chart 11523 (Charleston Harbor Entrance).
It expands chart coverage further east, covering an additional 345 square nautical miles that wasn’t on the old chart.
“The creation of this chart directly responds to requests made by Charleston pilots, who bring in larger ships with deeper drafts than they did when we made the original harbor chart in 1936,” said Rear Admiral Gerd Glang, director of NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey.
“This new chart will meet current needs and, even more important, the future needs of maritime commerce in the Port of Charleston.”

In addition to consulting with the pilots in creating the new chart, Coast Survey cartographers also worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is reviewing a proposed deepening project at Charleston to handle the bigger ships that are expected with the expansion of the Panama Canal.
Since the first edition of the current chart was published in 1936, multiple deepening projects have displaced the sea buoy and channel entrance over nine nautical miles to the east -- areas the chart did not cover.
The new and updated chart will now include the area where pilots board the deep draft vessels as they prepare to guide them into the harbor.
The new chart will be available as a paper nautical chart from NOAA-certified printing agents, as a free PDF digital download, and as a free raster navigational chart for electronic display systems.
The corresponding electronic navigational chart US5SC25M will be available for download by September.

NOAA issues new nautical chart for the Arctic

new chart 16145 in the Marine GeoGarage


NOAA has issued a new nautical chart for the Delong Mountain Terminal, a shallow draft port servicing the Red Dog Mine, on the western coast of Alaska in the Arctic.
New chart 16145 fills in historically sparse depth measurements, using new survey data recently acquired specifically for this chart.

“This chart is important to the Arctic economy, giving navigational intelligence for the vessels shipping zinc and lead from Red Dog Mine, one of the world’s largest producer of zinc concentrate,” explained Rear Admiral Gerd Glang, director of NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey.
“The new chart offers vastly more navigational information than the only other available chart of the area.”
The Delong Mountain Terminal is a shallow draft port servicing the Red Dog Mine, which is located about 50 miles inland.
The terminal uses self-loading barges to ferry the ore concentrates to the deep draft ships anchored several miles offshore.

“The shipping season from the terminal only lasts about 100 days, so shipping efficiency is vital,” Glang points out.
“This chart will help to improve those maritime efficiencies, as well as safety.”
Previously, the only official nautical chart available to transit the near shore area was the 1:700,000 scale chart 16005, which shows one depth measurement within three nautical miles of the approach to Delong Mountain Terminal.
New NOAA chart 16145 offers a much more usable 1:40,000 scale coverage, with updated shoreline measurements and newly acquired hydrographic information.
It shows dozens of depth measurements in the approach to the terminal, representative of thousands of soundings, to give the mariner accurate depths for navigation.

This is NOAA’s third new Arctic chart issued in the past three years.
Chart 16161 (ENC US5AK97) for Alaska’s Kotzebue Harbor were issued in 2012, and chart 16190 (ENCs US4AK8D and US5AK8D) for Bering Strait North were issued in 2013.

Correcting chart discrepancies at Alaska’s Whale Passage

Whale island with the Marine GeoGarage

From NOAA by Ensign Sarah Chappel, NOAA Ship Rainier

NOAA Ship Rainier recently surveyed Whale Passage, which separates Whale Island from Kodiak Island, Alaska.
The area has never been surveyed with modern full bottom coverage methods, and some project areas were last surveyed by lead lines around a hundred years ago.
The area frequently experiences 7 knot currents, making rocky or shoal areas particularly treacherous.
Whale Passage is a high traffic area for fishing vessels, U.S. Coast Guard cutters, barges, ferries, and small boats, which is why updating the area’s nautical charts is so important.

 Strong currents push around Ilkognak Rock daymark at the entrance of Whale Passage.
(Photo by LTJG Damian Manda)

The dynamics of the passage and surrounding area create several challenges for the hydrographic survey teams.
The local tidal and current models are not well-known.
To resolve this, Rainier was instructed to install four tide gauges in the greater project area, compared to a typical requirement for one gauge.
Two of these gauges are a mere 4.5 nautical miles apart, in and just outside of Whale Passage itself.
Some areas are so narrow and experience such high currents that it is only possible to survey in one direction in order to maintain control of the launch.
The coxswain must plan each turn carefully, to avoid being pushed into dangerous areas. Ideally, these areas would be surveyed at or near slack tide.
However, the slack in this survey area is incredibly brief and the predicted slack periods did not match what survey crews saw in the field.

 Rainier‘s multibeam sonar data shows a sunken fishing vessel in the vicinity of Whale Passage.

The bathymetry is so dynamic that, even in relatively deep water, boat crews must remain alert for rocks and shoals.
The survey teams found several large rocks in locations significantly different from where they were charted.
Furthermore, the presence of large kelp beds increases the difficulty of surveying: they can foul the propellers on the launches, add noise to the sonar data, and can also obscure the presence of rocks.

While the work within Whale Passage, and the neighboring Afognak Strait on the north side of Whale Island, is challenging, it is also high-value.
In addition to correcting the positions of known rocks and hazards, Rainier and her crew found a sunken vessel.
Most importantly, though, they found areas that were charted twice as deep as they actually are. When the chart reads 8 fathoms (48 feet) and the actual depth is only 4 fathoms (24 feet), commercial traffic utilizing the passage could be in serious danger of running aground.
Thus far, Rainier has submitted two DTON (danger to navigation) reports for depths significantly shoaler than charted.
These new depths are already published on the latest version of chart 16594.

 NOAA Ship Rainier recovers a survey launch after a morning of surveying and data collection. (Photo by LTJG Damian Manda)

NOAA Ship Rainier will continue to survey the vicinity of Whale Passage, as well as the waters near Cold Bay out in the Alaskan Peninsula, for the remainder of the survey season before heading home to Newport, Oregon.

US NOAA update in the Marine GeoGarage

As our public viewer is not yet available
(currently under construction, upgrading to Google Maps API v3 as v2 is officially no more supported),
this info is primarily intended to our iPhone/iPad universal mobile application users

(Marine US on the App Store)
and also to our B2B customers which use our nautical charts layers in their own webmapping applications through our GeoGarage API

 NOAA raster chart coverage

20 charts have been updated in the Marine GeoGarage + 1 chart added (16145)
(NOAA update July 2014, released June 14th 2014)

  • 11356 ed41 Isles Dernieres to Point au Fer
  • 11464 ed18 Intracoastal Waterway Blackwater Sound To Matecumbe
  • 11476 ed23 Cape Canaveral to Bethel Shoal
  • 11525 ed1 Charleston Harbor
  • 11552 ed21 Neuse River and Upper Part of Bay River
  • 12207 ed24 Cape Henry to Currituck Beach Light
  • 12238 ed41 Chesapeake Bay Mobjack Bay and York River Entrance
  • 13205 ed40 Block Island Sound and Approaches
  • 13219 ed14 Point Judith Harbor
  • 13316 ed24 Blue Hill Bay;Blue Hill Harbor
  • 16145 ed1 Alaska - West Coast. Delong Mountain Terminal
  • 16591 ed10 Alitak Bay-Cape Alitak to Moser Bay
  • 16592 ed11 Kodiak Island Gull Point to Kaguyak Bay;Sitkalidak Passage
  • 16593 ed12 Chiniak Bay to Dangerous Cape
  • 16601 ed11 Cape Alitak to Cape lkolik
  • 16604 ed12 Shuyak and Afagnak Islands and adjacent waters
  • 18449 ed0 Puget Sound-Seattle to Bremerton
  • 18474 ed0 Puget Sound-Shilshole Bay to Commencement Bay
  • 19324 ed23 Island Of Hawai'i Hilo Bay
  • 19326 ed7 Pa'auhau Landing Island Of Hawai'i
  • 83637 ed5 Johnston Atoll;Johnston Island Harbor
Today 1026 NOAA raster charts (2168 including sub-charts) are included in the Marine GeoGarage viewer (see PDFs files)

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

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

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

Driven by ocean heat, world sets mark for hottest June

June 2014 Blended Land and Sea Surface
Temperature Anomalies in degrees Celsius

Credit : NOAA, Global Analysis - June 2014

From ClimateCentral by Brian Kahn

The world just experienced its hottest June on record.
The heat was driven in large by part by the hottest ocean temperatures since recordkeeping began more than 130 years ago.
That makes this the third-warmest start to the year.
The global temperature was 1.3°F above the 20th century average in June according to data released on Monday by the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC).
That bests the previous hottest June record, set in 1998, by 0.05°F.
June was the 352nd consecutive month in a row with temperatures that were above the global average.
The last cooler-than-average month was February 1985, the month of “Careless Whisperer.”
The June hot streak extends back even further, with the last cool June coming in 1976 when people were grooving to Wings’ chart topper, “Silly Love Songs.”
June 2014 Blended Land and Sea Surface
Temperature Percentiles

The lengthy stretch of hot months is being driven primarily by the rise of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Human activities are responsible for much of that rise and with recent carbon dioxide milestones passed, emissions show no sign of slowing.
Regionally, there were a few particularly hot spots.
Notably, New Zealand had its hottest June as did large part of East Africa and chunks of Southeast Asia.
There were a limited number of cool spots, mostly in Alaska, which baked through the first five months of the year, and far eastern Siberia.
When looking at land areas only, this was the 7th-hottest June.
Temperatures averaged over land were 1.7°F above average. 

 June Global Land and Ocean plot
It’s the ocean surface temperatures that put the month over the top.
Temperatures were 1.2°F above average.
That’s a smaller number than the 1.7°F land averages, but oceans tend to lag behind air temperatures.
And despite being a smaller number, oceans cover 70 percent of the planet, which tend to give them more weight on global temperatures.
This June represents a significant milestone for the world’s oceans.
Not only was it the hottest June for oceans since record keeping began in 1880, but it was the most anomalously warm ocean temperature for any month.
That means temperatures were more freakishly above average this past June than at any other time in the period of record.
The previous record was a four-way tie with May 2014 being the most recent month.
This June’s temperature record also represents a global mark for the warmest the oceans have ever been.
The record heat happened to hit in June, when oceans are at their warmest, giving temperatures a further boost.
The news comes on the heels of last week’s State of the Climate report, an annual climate check-up for the globe.
The report showed that 2013 saw record amounts of heat trapped in the upper half mile of the ocean, a phenomenon that scientists think is contributing to the “pause” in global warming.

Of course, talking about a “pause” is a bit of an overstatement.
This year is on track to be the third-warmest.
NCDC also said that 9 of the 10 warmest Junes have occurred since 2000 (with 1998 being the lone holdout).
El Niño, the climate phenomenon on the tip of every weather geeks’ tongue, has the potential to ratchet up the global temperature even further by year’s end.
Though there’s been an El Niño watch in place for months, the phenomenon, which is characterized by warm waters in the eastern tropical Pacific, has yet to form.
Forecasters give it a 75 percent chance of forming by fall, though, which could make the year end on a hot note.
Whether it would be enough to overtake 2010, the year of “Tik Tok,” as the hottest year on the record remains to be seen.

Monday, July 21, 2014

NZ Linz update in the Marine GeoGarage

 Coverage NZ Linz Marine GeoGarage layer

As our public viewer is not yet available
(currently under construction, upgrading to Google Maps API v3 as v2 is officially no more supported),
this info is primarily intended to
our iPhone/iPad universal mobile application users
(Marine NZ on the App Store) 
and our B2B customers which use our nautical charts layers
in their own webmapping applications through our GeoGarage API.  

6 new charts has been added in the Marine GeoGarage
(Linz July update published July 11, 2014)

  • NZ82 Tonga
  • NZ822 Vava’u Group
  • NZ827 Approaches to Tongatapu including ‘Eua
  • NZ2683 Approaches to Waitangi
  • NZ2685 Plans in the Chatham Islands - Waitangi Bay
  • NZ2687 Pitt Strait
Today NZ Linz charts (183 charts / 323 including sub-charts) are displayed in the Marine GeoGarage.

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

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

Boom in satellite ship tracking

Fugro Equator tracks
The Fugro Equator has a state-of-the-art multibeam echosounder to map the ocean floor

From BBC by Jonathan Amos

The ship tracks recorded on this map are unmistakably those of a survey vessel moving back and forth on a grid.
They were produced by Fugro Equator, one of the ships currently making a detailed map of the ocean floor west of Australia as part of the search for wreckage from the lost Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

With satellite AIS, ships like Fugro Equator can be tracked anywhere on the oceans

The Dutch-owned Fugro Equator, together with the Chinese PLA-Navy ship Zhu Kezhen, which is working further to the south, are gathering bathymetric (depth) data over an area covering some 60,000 sq km.
Once this is in the hands of Australian authorities, the hunt for MH370 will go into a new phase, using a range of submersibles and other deepwater search technologies.

The Fugro Equator has recently returned to its mapping operation after a period in port

The maps on this page were recorded by ExactEarth, one of a growing number of suppliers of ship tracking information acquired from space.
ExactEarth, a subsidiary of Canadian satellite component manufacturer ComDev, has a small constellation of sensors in orbit that can detect the Automatic Identification System (AIS) signals broadcast by ships.

Planned exactEarth satellite constellation

All vessels over 300 gross tons (and all passenger ships irrespective of size) are mandated to carry transponders that push out data that includes not just position, course, and speed, but also information about a ship's type, draught, cargo - even its eventual destination.

AIS was established in the first instance as a safety system - something maritime agencies and ship operators themselves could use to keep tabs on who was doing what in local waters.
But the curvature of the Earth means the terrestrial radio network only works within about 75km of the shore, which then requires satellite observation to follow vessels out on the open ocean.
The data has myriad applications including for optimizing routing, enforcing fisheries rules, tracing pollution and tackling piracy and smuggling.

 AIS in South Asia

ExactEarth is just one company exploiting this new market.
This week at the Farnborough International Airshow, it signed a deal to commercialise new detection technology developed within a European Space Agency telecommunications project.
The technology will be installed on two satellites to be manufactured by LuxSpace of Luxembourg.
"There are many challenges with satellite AIS since the signals were never meant to be received from space," said Peter Mabson, president of exactEarth.
"The biggest one is that the satellites will receive transmissions from many, many vessels - up to thousands of vessels - simultaneously. So the big challenge is the signal processing challenge of being able to make sense of all that information. From exactEarth's point of view, we have a patented way to do that."

Burgeoning market

Tuesday's contract was signed just a day after Orbcomm, a US rival to exactEarth, put up six new AIS satellites; and a week after a Soyuz rocket lofted separate AIS platforms for the Russian/German satellite builder Dauria Aerospace and for the Norwegian space agency.

The Norwegian platform, AISSat-2, is a follow-up to the highly successful spacecraft the Scandinavian country launched in 2010.
Norwegian space agency director-general Bo Andersen credits AIS information, some of it from AISSat-1, for helping to enforce a highly successful cod fishery that has not seen any recorded illegal activity so far this year.
"Norway has the biggest ocean area of any country in Europe," he explains.
"The ocean area is slightly bigger than the whole of the Mediterranean. What's more, it is so far to the north that in summertime, 60% of all the traffic north of the Arctic Circle is in Norwegian waters, and in wintertime it is 90%. And if you go up to the 'real Arctic', which is about 73 degrees North, we see days when all the traffic in the Arctic is in Norwegian waters."
An AISSat-3 will be launched in about a year to supplement the observations of all this traffic.

Aviation has a situational awareness system that is similar in many ways to AIS.
It is called Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B).
It too will provide identification and tracking information through ground radio networks and satellites.
In the case of MH370, however, the ADS-B transponder on the Malaysia Airlines jet was either switched off or failed.

Links :

Sunday, July 20, 2014

'Exhale' - A must watch for all freedivers

Slowly sinking to the bottom of the ocean floor, an unconscious Aaron Gallagher was rescued by his diving partner, and best friend Jack Strickland.
After suffering what is referred to as a 'shallow water blackout' the horrific images of a man moments from death were caught on camera.
What followed was a long road to recovery, as the two men fought against the physical and emotional trauma sustained on that fateful day.
Exhale is a hard-hitting film about the extreme sport that is free diving, delve deeper and we find a story of friendship, passion and overcoming all fears.

Links :