Saturday, March 19, 2016

Kongsberg Maritime looks in to the future with the project "MACS" - Maritime Control System for the future.

 How will the bridge look like in the future?
How will the crew interact?
MACS system combines the flexibility of the touch screen with steerability of the of the vessel, without looking at a screen.
You can't operate a touch screen and look around at the same time.
We thus needed a handle capable of operating a touch screen.
The advantage of the MACS system is that it can be spread out across two screens, rendering many instruments on the bridge obsolete.
This eneables better wiring and troubleshooting.
It's easier for the operator to work with one system only.

Friday, March 18, 2016

A Canadian province’s rocky symbol collapses into rubble

About half of Elephant Rock, a natural stone formation in New Brunswick, Canada, crumbled on Monday.
The tides that helped carve it out of the shoreline also played a role in its destruction. 
left : October 29, 2013 / right : March 14, 2016
Kevin Snair/Creative Imagery

From NYTimes by Ian Austen

Viewed at just the right angle, and maybe with a bit of squinting — and perhaps a little imagination — the natural stone formation resembled a charging elephant, about 100 feet high and up to eight feet wide.
Elephant Rock near Hopewell Cape, New Brunswick, was so well known and frequently photographed that it appeared on the provincial health care identification card.
But like the Rockies and Gibraltar — as the Gershwins somewhat simplistically put it — it’s only made of clay, and on Monday about half of it collapsed. 
The event, as far as anyone knows, went unwitnessed.

 Hopewell Cape in the GeoGarage platform (CHS chart)
 zoom on Hopewell Rocks with the GeoGarage platform (CHS chart)

Elephant Rock, or at least what remains of it, is one of the 17 Hopewell Rocks in the Bay of Fundy that become whimsical formations at low tide.
Yet despite its importance as a tourist attraction and a provincial symbol, some in New Brunswick see the demise of the elephant as inevitable as the melting of an ice palace after a winter carnival. 
“To some degree, it’s the end of an era,” said Noël Hamann, the property manager of the provincial park that includes the Hopewell Rocks.
“This particular rock was iconic because it was on the health card, so everyone in New Brunswick feels they have ownership of it,” he said.
“But the rocks are always changing.”
While the most dramatic, Monday’s collapse was not the first recent act of natural destruction visited upon Elephant Rock.
In 1997, a protrusion that Mr. Hamann said resembled an elephant’s trunk snapped off.
Like its neighbors, Elephant Rock is a mixture of sandstone and a soft rock known as Hopewell Conglomerate.

 This photo shows how drastic the difference is between high and low tide of the Bay of Fundy at the Hopewell Rocks.
(Kevin Snair)

The tides, which rise and fall 36 to 46 feet, helped create the rocks by carving them out of the shoreline and also play a role in their destruction.

 Bay of Fundy tides : the highest tides in the world

Interactive tides animation (click or tap on a photo below, then drag up & down)
Remember, the real Bay of Fundy tides take about 6 hours to flow from low tide to high tide, so plan to stay long enough to witness this amazing phenomenon.

But Mr. Hamann said that major springtime collapses were the result of the same freeze-thaw cycle that creates potholes.
And, he added, all of the formations are ultimately doomed.
“People get attached, and they don’t like change,” Mr. Hamann said. “But the tide waits for no man or rock.”

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Where the whale things are : new underwater microphones can track whales over thousands of miles

An eavesdropping technique allows scientists to instantly find, map, and classify whales over enormous stretches of ocean.

From TheAtlantic by Ed Yong

Whales, the biggest animals on the planet, are also among the hardest to find.
They spend most of their time submerged and unseen.
But not unheard: Whales are noisy animals that flood the oceans with songs, clicks, moans, and calls.
And Purnima Ratilal from Northeastern University has developed a way of listening in on these calls to instantly detect, find, and classify whales, over 100,000 square kilometers of ocean—an area the size of Virginia or Iceland.
“The conventional method for studying marine mammals is to go out on a boat, dangle a hydrophone [an underwater microphone] off the side, and listen for the sounds the animals make,” she says.
“Or you do visual surveys, focused on one or two species and just a handful of individuals at a time.”
By contrast, her technique uses 160 hydrophones to simultaneously map the presence of at least eight whale species, without ever needing to see a single fin.
Ratilal started her scientific career studying military sonar and found that fish would seriously clutter the rebounding signals.
That’s not great for people trying to detect enemy craft but it’s perfect if you want to, y’know, map fish.
Fishermen already use fish-finding sonar but it typically uses very high frequencies and can only map the water column directly beneath a boat.
By using lower frequencies, Ratilal could detect fish over thousands of square kilometers.
And a lot of fish, at that.

In September 2006, the team ventured out into the Gulf of Maine with two ships: one that sent out sound waves and another that detected the rebounding echoes with a string of 160 hydrophones. Together, they visualized the movements of a quarter of a billion herring.
During the day, these fish stick to the ocean floor and largely keep their distance.
But come sunset, they gather to spawn, rising to the surface and aggregating into a kilometers-wide mega-orgy—a shoal of 250 million fish all busy creating millions more baby fish.
While working on the herring, the team kept on hearing whales in their recordings.
They initially focused on humpbacks, reputedly among the most vocal of the whales.
“We were amazed at the quality of the data we got,” says Ratilal.
“We found 2,000 calls from humpbacks each day.”
But even though the herring were spawning throughout the gulf, the herring-eating humpbacks were clustered in two separate locations.
Why weren’t they going after the fish in the middle?
“We thought there might be other whale species occupying the regions in between. And sure enough, we found them.”

Each whale species calls within a certain frequency range and makes its own distinctive repertoire of sounds.
Using this information, the team could look at their recordings and extract the locations of five huge filter-feeding species (the blue, fin, humpback, sei, and minke) and three toothed ones (sperm, pilot, and killer).
The whales seemed to divide the herring between them, with each species sticking to its own particular part of the Gulf.
The blue whales stayed away from the humpbacks, which swam apart from the minkes, which lived separately from the seis.
“You find the same species in these same areas day after day,” says Ratilal. “It’s quite stable.”
It’s possible that the larger whales like blues stay away from shallower regions, leaving those to the smaller minkes and pilots.
But in truth, no one knows why or how the whales carve up the oceans between them.
It’s not surprising that they do—you can see similar partitioning among, say, plant-eaters on the African grasslands—but it’s rare to see such stark visual evidence of these divisions.

Check out Ratilal’s map: that’s a huge body of water.
See those rings of color?
Those are the territories of animals that are the size of ships.

 Wang et al, 2016. Nature

“[Ours] is the only technique that can instantaneously monitor marine mammal and fish populations over very large areas,” she says.
She calls her technique Passive Ocean Acoustic Waveguide Remote Sensing (POAWRS), and the “Passive” bit is important.
When the team studied the herring, they found the fish by sending out sound waves and capturing the echoes.
But whales are so vocal that the first bit is unnecessary.
“We’re just listening in,” says Ratilal.
She thinks that POAWRS can reveal not just the distributions of whales and fish, but their interactions as predators and prey.
For example, she says that humpbacks are ten times more vocal at night than during the day, and suggests that they’re making feeding calls while engulfing the amassed herring.
Likewise, minke whales make buzzing sequences that have previously been interpreted as mating calls. But the team found that they overlap with the presence of herring.
“They’re probably an intricate part of the minke feeding behavior,” says Ratilal.
But Jeremy Goldbogen from Stanford University isn’t convinced.
He says that these large, filter-feeding whales might make calls between bursts of foraging, but tagging studies have shown that they don’t vocalize while feeding.
“This demonstrates both the power and limitations of using acoustics to study predator-prey interactions,” he says.
Sure, researchers can monitor large swathes of ocean and find patterns that no one has seen before. But they can only infer behavior through correlations, and they may do so wrongly.
When understanding what these animals are doing, rather than just working out where they are, you still need to see them.


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Submarine cable map 2016

From GoogleMapsMania by Keir Clarke

Every year TeleGeography creates a new global undersea cable map.
TeleGeography's Submarine Cable Map 2015 was a particularly wonderful map.
The 2015 map was inspired by medieval and renaissance cartography and featured some wonderful map border illustrations and even a number of beautifully drawn sea monsters.

For the 2016 edition of its Submarine Cable Map TeleGeography has designed a much more modern looking and information rich map.
The main map shows 321 undersea cable systems around the world, while a number of smaller inset maps depict some of the world's busiest landing stations.

 Locations of all copper telegraph cables around the world in 1877.

Countries on the map are colored to show how many submarine cable system links are connected to each country.
Infographics along the bottom of the map provide additional information on the capacity of the major global cable routes around the world.

The Submarine Cable Map 2016 is certainly not as much fun as the 2015 edition.
However TeleGeography's latest map does provide a lot more information about the world's submarine cable networks and is consequently a lot more informative.

Other undersea cables map (from Azimap)

Links :

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Links between climate change and extreme weather are increasingly clear and present

NASA : tracking a superstorm
Hurricane Sandy's near-surface winds are visible in this NASA GEOS-5 global atmosphere model computer simulation that runs from Oct. 26 to Oct. 31, 2012.

From WashingtonPost by Adam Sobel

When a hurricane, flood, heat wave, or other extreme weather event strikes, reporters call scientists like me and ask us what human-induced climate change had to do with this event.
Until recently, most of us would say something like this: “Climate change is real. It alters the broader patterns, the statistics of weather. But we can’t attribute any single weather event to climate change.”
We are starting to respond differently.
A new area of scientific research, known as “extreme event attribution”, has emerged to provide more substantive and quantitative answers.
Our science has reached the point where we can look for the human influence on climate in single weather events, and sometimes find it.

Today, the National Academy of Sciences released the report, “Attribution of extreme weather events in the context of climate change“, which concludes it is now “often possible” to describe how human-induced climate change altered the likelihood and/or intensity of a specific extreme weather event.
The report was written by a panel of climate scientists who have studied linkages between climate change and extreme weather, in which I was honored to participate.
One of the questions that motivated this report is: “Did climate change cause this event?”
This is a question we hear frequently after devastating instances of extreme weather.
We’ve never been able to provide a satisfying answer and we still can’t because the question is ill-posed.
No weather event has a single cause.
Each event has many causes, and most of them are natural.
Climate change is one influence among many, and it can be a subtle one.
But the report makes clear that we now can begin to provide meaningful responses to the following kinds of questions: “Did climate change make a heat wave like this more likely to occur, and if so by how much?”
Or, “Given that a storm like this occurred, did climate change make it more intense?”

 Model simulations spanning 140 years show that warming from carbon dioxide will change the frequency that regions around the planet receive no rain (brown), moderate rain (tan), and very heavy rain (blue).
The occurrence of no rain and heavy rain will increase, while moderate rainfall will decrease.
Credit: NASA's

The answers can depend on how they are framed, as much as they depend on the specifics of the event.
But at least in some cases, substantive, quantitative answers to these questions are possible.
We obtain those answers by comparing the event that just happened to a reconstruction of what might have happened if humans hadn’t changed the climate.
In one common method, scientists perform many realistic computer model simulations, over long times (in computer years), of both the present climate, and the climate of a hypothetical, cooler world without human influence.
In each climate, they count how often events occur that are similar to the one that happened in the real world.
If they happen twice as often (say) in the simulated present climate as in the hypothetical climate without humans, then we say that human-induced climate change made the event twice as likely as it would have been otherwise.
Of course, the results could also show that the event is about equally likely in both climates, or less likely in the present climate (as is generally true for extreme cold snaps).
Or the results could be inconclusive.
Even the best model may not be good enough to capture some events with sufficient accuracy, and then we just can’t draw useful results about those events from it.
Or we may not understand well enough how some kinds of extreme weather are influenced by climate change, in which case we won’t trust what models tell us even if it looks plausible otherwise.
The necessary understanding should depend on multiple lines of evidence, including historical observations and our knowledge of the basic physics of the events.
As a rule, we can do better with the events that are the most directly related to temperature, since then the chain of causality from global warming to the event is shortest and simplest.
We can make the strongest attribution statements about heat waves, in particular.

 (National Academy of Sciences, 2016)

We can say very little (yet) about the climate change influence on tornadoes, because our models don’t yet have enough resolution to simulate them (like a digital camera with too few pixels to see someone’s face from far away), their relation to temperature is indirect, and not enough research has been done for us even to be sure how they should be changing.
Other kinds of events – such as floods, droughts, and hurricanes – are somewhere in between.
Though attribution science is advancing quickly, it’s still new, and some scientists are uneasy about it. Some are concerned that it politicizes weather disasters by making them into climate change stories.
I have been concerned, on the other hand, that stories focused on attribution in the wake of weather disasters can send misleadingly skeptical messages about climate change as a whole.

Climate science works best with patterns.
Determining climate change’s role in a single event is usually more difficult than doing so in global statistics.
It can be hard to be sure that exposure to small amounts of a chemical caused cancer in a single patient, even when studies of large populations prove that it is a carcinogen; similarly, we often can’t make strong attribution statements about an individual weather event, even when we have a lot of evidence that those kinds of events overall are influenced by climate change, or will be in the future.
So media coverage of attribution studies sometimes ends up focusing more on what we don’t know than what we do.
That can leave the impression that we know less than we really do, which is unhelpful in a political climate which already doesn’t take the real one seriously enough.
But attribution studies help to close the gap between the widespread notion of climate change as distant and the real need for us to act on it now.
Real extreme weather events get people’s attention.
Sometimes, some of that attention lands on broader issues around climate change that are overdue for it.
When “Superstorm” Sandy struck, for example, it started a critically important public conversation about sea level rise and other climate change impacts on the New York metropolitan area.
Now, some of the most important aspects of this conversation don’t actually require us to say to what extent climate change influenced Sandy.
(For the record, though, climate-related sea level rise increased the depth of the flood waters by about eight inches.)
We should be planning for climate change based on our best projections of the future, and single events don’t change those – the fact that Sandy occurred doesn’t change the probability of the next one.
And even if the evidence doesn’t indicate a significant human influence on a particular recent event, our lived experience of that event can provide a needed vision of what changes may be coming in the future, and an indication of our vulnerability to those changes.
But it is natural to try to see climate change through the lens of individual weather events, and to ask straight up how they are related.
Our ability to answer is improving quickly, allowing us to grasp more profoundly what is happening to our planet in real time.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Brazil DHN update in the GeoGarage platform

5 new nautical raster charts added

Boeing unmanned undersea vehicle can operate autonomously for months

Echo Voyager, Boeing’s latest unmanned undersea vehicle (UUV), can operate autonomously for months at a time thanks to a hybrid rechargeable power system and modular payload bay.
The 51-foot-long vehicle is the latest innovation in Boeing’s UUV family, joining the 32-foot Echo Seeker and the 18-foot Echo Ranger.

From Boeing

Boeing introduced Echo Voyager, its latest unmanned, undersea vehicle (UUV), which can operate autonomously for months at a time thanks to a hybrid rechargeable power system and modular payload bay.

The 51-foot-long vehicle is not only autonomous while underway, but it can also be launched and recovered without the support ships that normally assist UUVs.
Echo Voyager is the latest innovation in Boeing’s UUV family, joining the 32-foot Echo Seeker and the 18-foot Echo Ranger.
“Echo Voyager is a new approach to how unmanned undersea vehicles will operate and be used in the future,” said Darryl Davis, president, Boeing Phantom Works.
“Our investments in innovative technologies such as autonomous systems are helping our customers affordably meet mission requirements now and in the years to come.”

 Echo Voyager is the newest member to join Boeing’s unmanned undersea vehicle family.
The 51-foot vehicle is designed to stay underwater for months at a time.

Echo Voyager will begin sea trials off the California coast later this summer.
Boeing has designed and operated manned and unmanned deep sea systems since the 1960s.
“Echo Voyager can collect data while at sea, rise to the surface, and provide information back to users in a near real-time environment,” said Lance Towers, director, Sea & Land, Boeing Phantom Works. “Existing UUVs require a surface ship and crew for day-to-day operations. Echo Voyager eliminates that need and associated costs.”

In 2016 Boeing celebrates 100 years of pioneering aviation accomplishments and launches its second century as an innovative, customer-focused aerospace technology and capabilities provider, community partner and preferred employer.
Through its Defense, Space & Security unit, Boeing is a global leader in this marketplace and is the world's largest and most versatile manufacturer of military aircraft.
Headquartered in St. Louis, Defense, Space & Security is a $30 billion business with about 50,000 employees worldwide

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Image of the week : 'Moon Glint' magic : Astronaut's photo reveals dreamy patterns

A photo of moonglint in the Mediterranean Sea taken form the International Space Station.
Credit: NASA Earth Observatory/ISS Crew

 Localization with the GeoGarage platform (SHOM map)

From LiveScience by Elizabeth Newbern

When an astronaut aboard the International Space Station trained a camera on a picturesque view of the northern Mediterranean Sea, the space flyer instead captured a unique effect created by the reflection of the moon on the surface of the water.
The astronaut's "moon glint" photo shows the twinkling lights of coastal Italian towns and islands of the northern Mediterranean obscured by what looks like dark brushstrokes reminiscent of sweeping clouds.
Sunlight can reflect off the surface of water or snow, and when the light hits at a certain angle, it creates a glare on the material's surface.
This glare is something that scientists call "sun glint," and it happens according to a mathematical concept called the bidirectional reflectance distribution function (BRDF), according to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

It turns out that moonlight can do the same thing.
When light from the moon reflects off the surface of a large body of water or ice at particular angles, it also creates a glare (or glint) of light, according to a blog post from the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA) at Colorado State University. 

When moonlight reflects from the sea, as it has done in this image, it can reveal complex patterns on the sea surface, NASA said.
These patterns typically come from a combination of different natural processes and traces left behind by human activities, the agency said.

In this image, for example, it is possible to see wave patterns trailing behind passing ships in a characteristic V-shaped pattern north of the island of Elba, NASA said.
A meandering line coming off Montecristo island is an "island wake," which results from alternating masses of whirling air that develop on the downwind side of the island.
Dark areas of the sea surface — indicating rougher water, in this case — can sometimes make islands, such as Montecristo and Pianosa, harder to see, NASA said.
In contrast, areas protected from wind and turbulence usually appear brighter because their smoother surfaces act as a better mirror for moonlight, the agency explained.
The sea surface also displays numerous tight swirls known as gyres, which show large water-circulation patterns in the sea, NASA said.
The astronaut's image is made all the more compelling by the sprinkling of lights from nearby cities, such as Piombino and Punta Alta.
The cities' golden glow turns this already otherworldly picture of Earth's Mediterranean Sea at night into something truly magical.