Saturday, October 8, 2016

The Messina Rise cortex

GlobCurrent aims to advance the quantitative estimation of ocean surface currents from satellite sensor synergy and to demonstrate the impact and advancements through user-led scientific, operational and commercial applications. 
This in turn, will highlight the advantages of satellite approaches and increase the uptake and exploitation of satellite ocean current measurements.
The GlobCurrent project is funded by the Data User Element, which is a programmatic element of the 4th period of the European Space Agency's Earth Observation Envelope Programme.

Friday, October 7, 2016

How dangerous is Hurricane Matthew? The Saffir-Simpson scale details potential damage

Conceptual animation illustrates the wind damage associated with increasing hurricane intensity - courtesy of The COMET Program and the NOAA National Hurricane Center.

From KSat ABC by RJ Marquez

In the event of a hurricane or major weather event, it’s important to know the potential for property damage or loss of life.

The National Hurricane Center estimates potential damage by using the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

According to the National Hurricane Center, hurricanes reaching category 3 and higher are considered major hurricanes because of their potential for significant loss of life and damage.

Category 1 and 2 storms are still dangerous and require preventive measures.  

Here is the breakdown of the categories based on wind speeds.

 The Saffir-Simpson category describes only the WIND threat of a hurricane.

Category 1: Sustained winds of 74-95 mph  
Category 1 storms are considered to have very dangerous winds and will produce some damage. Potential for damage includes:  
  • Well-constructed frame homes could have damage to roofs, shingles, vinyl siding and gutters. 
  • Large branches of trees will snap and shallowly rooted trees may be toppled. 
  • Extensive damage to power lines and poles likely will result in power outages that could last a few to several days.
Category 2: Sustained winds of 96-110 mph
Category 2 storms are considered to have extremely dangerous winds that will cause extensive damage.
Potential for damage includes:  
  • Well-constructed frame homes could sustain major roof and siding damage.
  • Many shallowly rooted trees will be snapped or uprooted and block numerous roads.
  • Near-total power loss is expected, with outages that could last from several days to weeks.  

Category 3 (major): Sustained winds of 111-129 mph
Category 3 storms have winds that will cause devastating damage.
Potential for damage includes:
  • Well-built frame homes may incur major damage or removal of roof decking and gable ends.
  • Many trees will be snapped or uprooted, blocking numerous roads.
  • Electricity and water will be unavailable for several days to weeks after the storm passes.

 This animation of NOAA's GOES-East satellite imagery from Oct. 4 to Oct. 6 shows Hurricane Matthew making landfall on Oct. 4 in western Haiti and moving through the Bahamas on Oct. 6. TRT: 00:38.
Credit: NASA/NOAA GOES Project

Category 4 (major): Sustained winds of 130 - 156 mph
Category 4 storms have winds that will cause catastrophic damage.
Potential for damage includes:
  • Well-built frame homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls.
  • Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed.
  • Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. 
  • Power outages will last weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months. 
Category 5 (major): Sustained winds of 157 mph or higher
Category 5 storms have wind that will cause catastrophic damage. Potential for damage includes: 
  • A high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse.
  • Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas.
  • Power outages will last for weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.
Links :

Thursday, October 6, 2016

'Great Pacific garbage patch' far bigger than imagined, aerial survey shows

"We opened the door and we saw the debris everywhere. Every half-second you see something." Photograph: Ocean Cleanup

From The Guardian by Oliver Milman

Giant collection of fishing nets, plastic containers and other discarded items called a ‘ticking time bomb’ as large items crumble into micro plastics

The vast patch of garbage floating in the Pacific Ocean is far worse than previously thought, with an aerial survey finding a much larger mass of fishing nets, plastic containers and other discarded items than imagined.
A reconnaissance flight taken in a modified C-130 Hercules aircraft found a vast clump of mainly plastic waste at the northern edge of what is known as the “great Pacific garbage patch”, located between Hawaii and California.
The density of rubbish was several times higher than the Ocean Cleanup, a foundation part-funded by the Dutch government to rid the oceans of plastics, expected to find even at the heart of the patch, where most of the waste is concentrated.
“Normally when you do an aerial survey of dolphins or whales, you make a sighting and record it,” said Boyan Slat, the founder of the Ocean Cleanup.
“That was the plan for this survey. But then we opened the door and we saw the debris everywhere. Every half second you see something. So we had to take snapshots – it was impossible to record everything. It was bizarre to see that much garbage in what should be pristine ocean.”

  Boyan Slat, founder of the Ocean Cleanup : aerial expedition, Ocean Force One tour
Photograph: The Ocean Cleanup

The heart of the garbage patch is thought to be around 1m sq km (386,000 sq miles), with the periphery spanning a further 3.5m sq km (1,351,000 sq miles).
The dimensions of this morass of waste are continually morphing, caught in one of the ocean’s huge rotating currents.
The north Pacific gyre has accumulated a soup of plastic waste, including large items and smaller broken-down micro plastics that can be eaten by fish and enter the food chain.

According to the UN environmental programme, the great Pacific garbage patch is growing so fast that it, like the Great Wall of China, is becoming visible from space.
Last year, the Ocean Cleanup sent 30 vessels to cross the patch to scoop up micro plastics in fine nets to estimate the extent of the problem.
However, the new reconnaissance flights from California have found that large items of more than half a meter in size have been “heavily underestimated”.
Slat said: “Most of the debris was large stuff. It’s a ticking time bomb because the big stuff will crumble down to micro plastics over the next few decades if we don’t act.”
Following a further aerial survey through the heart of the patch on Sunday, the Ocean Cleanup aims to tackle the problem through a gigantic V-shaped boom, which would use sea currents to funnel floating rubbish into a cone.
A prototype of the vulcanized rubber barrier will be tested next year, with a full-sized 100km (62-mile) barrier deployed by 2020 if trials go well.
The boom will not be able to suck up all of the strewn rubbish, however, with Slat warning that plastic is “quite persistent. We need to clean it up, but we also need to prevent so much entering the oceans. Better recycling, better product design and some legislation is all part of that. We need a combination of things.”

 Using about 30 vessels, The Ocean Cleanup currently executes the largest ocean research expedition in history, aiming to determine how many tons of plastic are in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

The full scale of plastic pollution was revealed in 2014, when a study found there were more than 5tn pieces of plastic floating in our oceans.
In 2014, 311m tonnes of plastic were produced around the world, a 20-fold increase since 1964.
It is expected to quadruple again by mid-century.
A report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation earlier this year predicted there would be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050 unless urgent action was taken.

Links :

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

US NOAA update in the GeoGarage platform

9 nautical raster charts updates
see News

Magnetic oceans and electric Earth

The magnetic signature from ocean tides (every 12.42 hours)
thanks to two years of data from ESA’s Swarm mission
courtesy of DTU/NASA/ETH Zurich 
From ESA 

Oceans might not be thought of as magnetic, but they make a tiny contribution to our planet’s protective magnetic shield.
Remarkably, ESA’s Swarm satellites have not only measured this extremely faint field, but have also led to new discoveries about the electrical nature of inner Earth.

The magnetic field shields us from cosmic radiation and charged particles that bombard Earth from the Sun.
Without it, the atmosphere as we know it would not exist, rendering life virtually impossible.

Scientists need to learn more about our protective field to understand many natural processes, from those occurring deep inside the planet, to weather in space caused by solar activity.
This information will then yield a better understanding of why Earth’s magnetic field is weakening.

Although we know that the magnetic field originates in different parts of Earth and that each source generates magnetism of different strengths, exactly how it is generated and why it changes is not fully understood.

 Earth's protective shield
The magnetic field and electric currents in and around Earth generate complex forces that have immeasurable impact on every day life.
The field can be thought of as a huge bubble, protecting us from cosmic radiation and charged particles that bombard Earth in solar winds.

This is why, in 2013, ESA launched its trio of Swarm satellites.
While the mission is already shedding new light on how the field is changing, this latest result focuses on the most elusive source of magnetism: ocean tides.
When salty ocean water flows through the magnetic field, an electric current is generated and this, in turn, induces a magnetic response in the deep region below Earth’s crust – the mantle.
Because this response is such a small portion of the overall field, it was always going to be a challenge to measure it from space.

Last year, scientists from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, ETH Zurich, showed that if it could be measured from space – never done before – it should also tell us something about Earth’s interior.
However, this all remained a theory – until now.

Thanks to Swarm’s precise measurements along with those from Champ – a mission that ended in 2010 after measuring Earth’s gravity and magnetic fields for more than 10 years – scientists have not only been able to find the magnetic field generated by ocean tides but, remarkably, they have used this new information to image the electrical nature of Earth’s upper mantle 250 km below the ocean floor.

Magnetic field sources
The different sources that contribute to the magnetic field measured by Swarm.
The coupling currents or field-aligned currents flow along magnetic field lines between the magnetosphere and ionosphere.

Alexander Grayver, from ETH Zurich, said, “The Swarm and Champ satellites have allowed us to distinguish between the rigid ocean ‘lithosphere’ and the more pliable ‘asthenosphere’ underneath.”
The lithosphere is the rigid outer part of the earth, consisting of the crust and upper mantle, while the asthenosphere lies just below the lithosphere and is hotter and more fluid than the lithosphere.
“Effectively, ‘geo-electric sounding from space’, this result is a first for space exploration,” he continues.
“These new results are important for understanding plate tectonics, the theory of which argues that Earth’s lithosphere consists of rigid plates that glide on the hotter and less rigid asthenosphere that serves as a lubricant, enabling plate motion.”

Swarm is ESA's first Earth observation constellation of satellites.
The three identical satellites are launched together on one rocket.
Two satellites orbit almost side-by-side at the same altitude – initially at about 460 km, descending to around 300 km over the lifetime of the mission.
The third satellite is in a higher orbit of 530 km and at a slightly different inclination.
The satellites’ orbits drift, resulting in the upper satellite crossing the path of the lower two at an angle of 90° in the third year of operations.
The different orbits along with satellites’ various instruments optimise the sampling in space and time, distinguishing between the effects of different sources and strengths of magnetism.

Roger Haagmans, ESA’s Swarm mission scientist, explained, “It’s astonishing that the team has been able to use just two years’ worth of measurements from Swarm to determine the magnetic tidal effect from the ocean and to see how conductivity changes in the lithosphere and upper mantle.

“Their work shows that down to about 350 km below the surface, the degree to which material conducts electric currents is related to composition.
“In addition, their analysis shows a clear dependence on the tectonic setting of the ocean plate. These new results also indicate that, in the future, we could get a full 3D view of conductivity below the ocean.”

Rune Floberghagen, ESA’s Swarm mission manager, added, “We have very few ways of probing deep into the structure of our planet, but Swarm is making extremely valuable contributions to understanding Earth’s interior, which then adds to our knowledge of how Earth works as a whole system.”

Links :

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Photos of the submarine Internet cables the NSA probably tapped

 Documentation of NSA-Tapped Fiber Optic Cable Landing Site,
Miami Beach, Florida, United States, 2015

From Wired by Laura Mallonee

The words “mass surveillance” usually bring to mind wiretaps, security cameras, and the NSA hoovering unfathomable quantities of cellphone metadata and Internet activity.
Few pause to consider the physical aspect of that last type of data collection: The government taps hundreds of cables that snake across the ocean floor, carrying data around the world.

NSA-Tapped Undersea Cables, North Pacific Ocean, 2016

Artist Trevor Paglen reveals some of those cables in a recent series, offering a visual reminder of how vulnerable your data is, and how easily it is accessed.
“Once you start looking into the infrastructure, it becomes obvious very quickly that 99 percent of the world’s information goes through little tubes under the ocean,” Paglen says.
“Those are very juicy targets for someone who wants to surveil the world.”

South America (SAM-1) NSA/GCHQ-Tapped Undersea Cable Atlantic Ocean, 2015

Security and surveillance fascinates Paglen, who has spent 10 years photographing everything from so-called “black sites” to spy satellites.
He was a cinematographer for Laura Poitras’s fascinating film Citizenfour, which documents Edward Snowden‘s NSA leaks as he made them.
During filming, Paglen visited NSA whistleblower Bill Binney, who suggested the artist look into Internet infrastructure.

 Under the Beach (Tumon Bay, Guam)

Among the many things Snowden disclosed was the fact the NSA and others tap these undersea cables.
Paglen spent two years studying the leaked data, cross-checking it with information gleaned from telecom documents, maritime charts, and topographical maps.
He also searched FCC filings and other regulatory documents, correlating information with the NSA documents.
It required a bit of detective work to sort it all out, because the agency often uses codewords.

 Documentation of NSA-Tapped Fiber Optic Cable Landing Site, Marseille, France, 2015

Once he had a sense of where these cables came ashore, Paglen had to photograph them.
That meant learning scuba diving.
He took a class in Berlin in the spring of 2015, flew to Florida for a certification course, and was diving off the coast of Miami Beach the next day.
He found the cable within minutes, exactly where his research indicated he would.

Japan-US Cable System NSA/GCHQ-Tapped Undersea Cable Pacific Ocean, 2016

He photographed 10 cables off the coast of Florida, Hawaii, and Guam during more than 30 dives for the ongoing project, which includes large-format photos of where those cables come ashore.

 From tapped fiberoptic cables at the bottom of the sea to football field-sized antennas in deep space, the architecture of state surveillance is as ubiquitous as it is invisible.
In this talk, artist Trevor Paglen shares more than a decade's worth of images, research, and stories about how to "see" the top-secret infrastructures that are so emblematic of our historical moment.

He also creates collages of maps and documents linking those cables to NSA surveillance, providing a multi-media overview of government snooping.
“Much of the way we understand the world is through images,” Paglen says.
“That’s what I think good art does—it teaches you how to see the historical moment that you live in.”

Links :

Monday, October 3, 2016

Amelia Earhart mystery may finally be solved

Amelia Earhart last flight video :
this writer was unable to vet the following video as part of Earhart’s final flight, but it’s definitely footage of Amelia and her navigator, Fred Noonan.

From The Inquisitr by Kaanii Powell Cleaver

Many notable names of the 20th century have faded with the passage of time.
Not so with aviatrix Amelia Earhart.
The pioneering female pilot disappeared while flying over the Pacific Ocean in 1937, but people still wonder what happened to her.
In fact, the Amelia Earhart mystery is generating global buzz right now, and the world can thank Ric Gillespie and Thomas King of The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery’s Amelia Earhart Project for that.
On October 1, 2016, Nature World News made the announcement that the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery has recovered and is touting conclusive evidence that proves where and possibly how Amelia Earhart and her flight navigator, Fred Noonan, perished nearly 80 years ago.

Although no real evidence was ever presented that could prove or disprove it, the U.S. government declared the official cause of Earhart’s and Noonan’s deaths to be an airplane crash.
In theory, a plane crash into unknown Pacific waters makes sense.
She had, after all, crashed while piloting a plane at least twice before.
In reality, the demise of Amelia Earhart and her trusty navigator may be a far more grisly tale.

According to The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, or TIGHAR, Amelia knew she was running out of fuel and could not find her planned destination of Howland Island, so she landed her plane on a relatively flat coral reef on the western edge of an atoll then known as Gardner Island. She used the last of her fuel to send distress calls for several nights.
A week after Earhart’s final radio transmission, the U.S. Navy sent a fleet of search planes to find Amelia.
By then, Earhart’s Lockheed Electra had been swept off the tiny reef and into very deep water, so no wreckage was seen from above.
Search pilot Lt. John O. Lambrecht did report seeing “signs of recent habitation” on the beach, but he assumed there were natives living on the island and did not send a rescue team.

 Finding Amelia with Hard Facts and Sound Science :
Powerpoint presentation given by TIGHAR Executive Director Ric Gillespie
at The Collider in Asheville, NC on August 5, 2106

What in the world happened to Amelia Earhart?

As the official story goes, Earhart’s Lockheed Electra 10E “flying laboratory” was equipped with aviation gear that was state of the art for the time. notes that although Amelia was a competent pilot, she was not a very good navigator.
She flew more by instinct than by instruments, which may or may not have contributed to her disappearance on June 2, 1937.
Other factors that came into play that fateful night were the overcast skies that blocked Noonan’s ability to navigate by the stars and the fact that the charts used by Noonan and Earhart were outdated and placed 6,500 feet long, 1,600 feet wide Howland Island, which was their destination, at least five miles from its actual location.
Amelia’s plane circled the region, looking for Howland Island and its tiny landing strip as they radioed a U.S. Coast Guard vessel called the Itasca with the following message.

In the days following Amelia’s disappearance, at least 100 people around the planet reported hearing distress calls that originated from Earhart’s radio, reports The Vintage News.
Among those who described calls were a shortwave operator in Texas who said that Amelia claimed to have made a partial water landing.
Another radio listener reported hearing Earhart say she was injured, but that her navigator was in worse shape than she.
Anecdotal evidence is fascinating, but not enough to prove that Earhart and Noonan survived their aviation mishap long enough to fire up the radio and send distress calls.
Things that can prove the doomed duo survived a crash and died some time later are the “hard facts and sound science” presented by Ric Gillespie at The Collider in Asheville, North Carolina, on August 5 of this year.

 Nikumaroro with the GeoGarage platform (Linz nautical chart)

According to Gillespie, Earhart landed her Lockheed Electra on the western reef slope of the South Pacific coral atoll of Nikumaroro, some 1,800 nautical miles southwest of Hawaii, 700 nautical miles south of Samoa and 1,000 nautical miles north of Fiji.
As Gillespie describes it, Nikumaroro atoll is in “the middle of nowhere.”

  Nikumaroro with the GeoGarage platform (NGA nautical chart)

And the middle of nowhere is precisely where a 19 inch by 23 inch rectangle of aluminum was found by TIGHAR researchers in 1991.
Since that time, TIGHAR researchers have unearthed several other bits of conclusive evidence on Nikumaroro, including a pot of freckle cream, the heel of a woman’s shoe that matches contemporary photos of Earhart and several small bones.
Scientists surmise that the rest of Earhart’s and Noonan’s bones may yet be discovered in old crab burrows.

 This excerpt form the Discovery Channel documentary Finding Amelia explains TIGHAR's theory about how how Earhart landed on the reef at Gardner Island (Nikumaroro)

Scab patch as proof that Amelia landed on Nikumaroro atoll.

When the aluminum slab was first discovered, some pooh-poohed it as not matching Earhart’s Elektra airplane.
In 1996, the metal was tested by an independent lab and was found to be essentially identical to the 24ST Al-clad aluminum used as the skin of Earhart’s plane, NR16020.
Recently, the TIGHAR team found a Miami Herald photograph that clearly shows the same piece used as a “scab patch” to cover a broken window on the plane that became a part of the Amelia Earhart mystery more than seven decades ago.
Gillespie notes that “the patch was as unique to her particular aircraft as a fingerprint is to an individual and that the aluminum matches that fingerprint in many respects.”

 Video summary of NAI'A's 2015 expedition to Nikumaroro in the Phoenix Islands in support of TIGHAR's search for Amelia Earhart.

Between 2001 and 2010, Gillespie and the TIGHAR team visited Nikumaroro Island several times, finding artifacts and evidence of long-ago meals, leading scientists to conclude that Earhart may have survived for several months before dying of malnutrition or illness.
Whatever the cause of her death, the brave aviatrix who flew through the Pacific sunset and into the history books perished shortly before her 40th birthday.

Links :

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Celebrating the 500th Anniversary of Martin Waldseemüller’s 1516 Carta Marina

Martin Waldseemüller's 1516 Carta Marina sought to present the most up–to–date conception of the world at that time.
Equal in size to his 1507 map, the Carta Marina is markedly superior to the earlier map in artistic detail, possibly reflecting the hand of the artist Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528).
It incorporates greatly expanded and corrected geographical information.
The Carta Marina could be considered the first printed nautical map of the entire world.
However, in part because of the controversies surrounding his earlier naming of the Western Hemisphere “America,” Waldseemüller omits the word from the Carta Marina, and indicates that North America is joined with Asia. 

Links :