Saturday, April 15, 2017

ESA helps faster cleaner shipping

Ocean-surface currents

From ESA

With around 90% of world trade carried by ships, making sure a vessel follows the fastest route has clear economic benefits.
By merging measurements from different satellites, ESA is providing key information on ocean currents, which is not only making shipping more efficient but is also helping to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Globcurrent data set - Ocean dynamics 2.0

Shipping companies forecast ocean currents down to a depth of about 15 m to route their vessels through favourable currents and avoid those that might hinder a voyage.
Reliable forecasts are essential for making sure that goods arrive on time and that ships use as little fuel as possible.
The problem is that forecasts might not always be accurate.

Globcurrent V1 (2015): 
Geostrophic + Ekman @ 15m depth overlaid over ODYSSEA Sea Surface Temperature

Combining satellite measurements such as sea-surface height and temperature, surface winds and gravity, along with measurements taken in situ, can yield a unique view of ocean-surface circulation.

ESA’s Globcurrent project has merged measurements to build a picture of daily global ocean surface currents over the last 24 years.
Shipping companies can use this information to understand general circulation characteristics of particular regions.
Building on Globcurrent, a near-realtime product would then allow them to choose the most reliable forecast for a given time and location.

Based in Marseille, France, CGM-CMA is a leading worldwide shipping company.
Through more than 200 shipping lines, the company operates on every one of the world’s seas.
The company is using satellite data from ESA’s Globcurrent project to optimise shipping routes.

Ocean scientists therefore teamed up with CGM-CMA, a worldwide shipping group, to optimise routing using Globcurrent data.

Fabrice Collard from Ocean Data Laboratory said, “The lack of confidence in ocean-circulation models has hindered ship routing.
“Today, Globcurrent can help assess which forecast products are the most reliable for a given local area. This, in turn, helps shipping companies choose a particular route that would make use of favourable currents.”

Ship track overlaid on a sea-surface temperature map from ESA’s Medspiration project and surface current streamlines from ESA Globcurrent project.

Patrice Bara from CGM-CMA remarked, “Reducing container vessel fuel consumption is an important challenge, especially when trying to cut down on emissions that contribute to global warming.
“Based on our experience with the Europe–Asia route, using existing ocean forecast products gives us a 0.4% cost saving. However, Globcurrent could help us achieve savings of up to 1.2% on fuel consumption.
“It is extremely important for us to assess the reliability of model forecasts against Globcurrent products in near-real time and to achieve our first target of reducing emissions of carbon dioxide by 180 000 tonnes a year.”

The western Mediterranean Sea has a variety of features that can be used to optimise ship routing.
Part of the challenge is to extract high-level features of interest such as water-type boundary fronts and significant currents of interest for a particular ship voyage.
This image shows sea-surface temperature overlaid with Globcurrent streamlines.
The white broken line shows the planned passage of a ship that takes advantage of ocean-surface currents.

Craig Donlon, ESA ocean scientist, added, “The importance of ocean surface currents cannot be overstated for those working on the ocean.
“Helping European industry to fine-tune their ship routing operations with Globcurrent brings not only financial savings but also the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“Now Globcurrent has been demonstrated, the operational generation of products will be transferred to the Copernicus Marine Environmental Monitoring Service in the coming months.
“ESA will continue the fundamental task of scientific research and development to maintain and evolve the new system to take full benefit of the Copernicus Sentinel-1, Sentinel-2 and Sentinel-3 satellites, and in the future Sentinel-6.”

Links :

Friday, April 14, 2017

Your ship has probably been cyber attacked

From eMaritimeGroup by George Ward

You have either been hacked... or just didn’t know you have been hacked.

I predict that the first catastrophic maritime cyber incident will not be the result of a direct attack on a safety critical specific piece of equipment.
It will be the result of an infection on a random PC, perhaps an unassuming email to a crew member, whose PC is either connected to the vessels internal super highway or he transmits the infection internally whilst it lies dormant.
Crypto locker, or Ransomware software (used by thousands of hackers), are easily available to download on the dark web, neither of which may necessarily attack the equipment they infect; they can lie dormant and infect connected equipment when nobody expects.
You have been warned.

 With the increasing use of systems with embedded software on ships and mobile offshore platforms, cyber security is becoming critical not only for data protection, but also for reliable operations.
Information security agencies are reporting that up to 97% of the attacks are actually consisting of tricking users via social engineering techniques.
To address this awareness risk, DNV GL’s Maritime Academy developed an e-learning course for your crews and shore staff to raise awareness concerning cyber security, about threats and countermeasures, addressing your cyber security management system by encouraging the crew’s good cyber hygiene.
You will learn to understand the importance of your Cyber Security role as a user of IT & OT (Operational Technology) systems and how to protect yourself and your organisation against cyber security threats.

Cyber-attack is the current buzzword, known by some as an industry killer and even as the potential cause of the next world war, but thought by others to be a myth.
So where does the maritime industry stand in all of this?

In the main, but certainly not universally, the maritime industry has a dismal record in its slow and painful transition from paper and analogue methods of shipping to new innovative technologies when compared to industry rivals like aviation.
But why is this, and how could it affect cyber security in the maritime arena?
Or have some seafarers not even evolved enough to be talking about it yet, let alone implementing new cyber procedures on board ship.
We have all met “that Captain” who is nervous about the machines on his ship.

While the maritime industry doesn’t seem to have been strategically targeted in terms of the vessels themselves, there is now plenty of talk of accidental or naive seafarers accepting a generic phishing email that goes on to attack their computers.

Major corporations like Google and Yahoo have release statements stating they were deliberately hacked.
The question is what will be first for the maritime industry, the deliberate or strategic hacking of an individual ship, or the shipping corporation as a whole.
There has been a call for cyber specialists to come and give answers to the potentially very real dangers facing the industry that could not only damage reputations, but cause disruption to trade worth billions of pounds to the industry.
Not all is lost though, as long as we can move the industry forward to cope with the digital world we live in today.

Cyber security was a hot topic in 2016 – however now we are in 2017, and the seafaring community are becoming more aware of what can potentially happen.
There is a real threat for cyber activists to start gaining and changing sensitive shipping data from our onboard equipment.
Such as changing the vessels route to cause a grounding, gaining access to digitally controlled engine rooms and causing alarm mute whilst an engine fails or even catches fire due to a manual overload by the hacker.

With more and more companies looking for insight into how to stop attacks from occurring, the main area of concern is the lack of security awareness by both companies and employees as they have been taken aback by the swift rise in the industry’s threat level from cyber security; almost nonexistent just a few years ago to today’s high alert.
It is expected that shipping companies and independent vessels could be next on the list for major cybercrime activity as it is as yet mainly unexplored territory for hackers who are only now starting to realize its huge potential as a target.
Attacks now have the capability to obtain sensitive ECDIS, AIS and GPS data, to name but a few, so it is vital that the correct procedures and processes are in place to stop the worst from happening.

see a live attack on standard maritime equipment

The scary part; 51 percent of U.S. adults suffered some kind of data security incident between December 2015 and December 2016.
In 2015 there were 781 reported major company data breaches in the U.S. alone due to cyber-attacks which combined cost companies $400 billion.
These are only the reported data breaches. Sadly there is often an element of sweeping under the carpet in all industries.
This total will continue to rise if the maritime industry, where the proportion of those of digital native age is far lower, do not adapt to ever changing technology and the major security threats it brings with it.
Overall, the predicted cost of cyber-attacks in 2019 is estimated at a colossal $2.1 trillion.

The issue, alongside a lack of awareness by employees and users of operating systems, is the development speed of technology.
This digital age of super computers, 4D printing and nano technology is like no other and is proving to be self-accelerating, i.e. one technology is put into operation while the next generation, more powerful and innovative, is being produced, thereby creating an always expanding, developing and aggressive cycle.
But, due to the speed of production, this process can lead to an unstable, unsecure and untrusted platform, as it is not able to keep up with ever changing threats.
After years of this development, technology companies are starting to adapt to the issue by developing and applying software updates weekly which try to manage security flaws within the software, while changes to future developments can help manage the constantly increasing cyber-crime threat; until the next global threat takes place or takes over.

Some maritime software manufacturers have used a physical security method of locking out their systems in order to intercept physical security threats altogether, however this ironically increasing the complication of applying security software updates.
This restriction can complicate a shipping company’s decision to have an integrated bridge system due to issues with syncing and communication between different software manufacturers, also meaning only specialized engineers and trained software technicians are allowed to apply updates, causing additional issues.
Restrictions like these could mean that your system is 80 percent more susceptible to cyber threats.

First off, the solution is simple; but it will cost you, which no one likes to do unless it’s necessary. Only some companies feel that cyber security is important enough to invest into it.
Nevertheless you will watch multiple companies become complacent and unconcerned about the real threat in the water, until it becomes a reality, and the organization comes grinding to a halt.
In reality, if you spend as much on coffee as you do on cyber security measures, you will be hacked.
It is alleged that almost every company in the World has already been hacked, or if not, will be soon.
FBI director James Comey had the following to say on Chinese hackers: “There are two kinds of big companies in the United States. There are those who've been hacked by the Chinese and those who don't know they've been hacked by the Chinese.”

This is the world as it is and therefore we need to change with it, not be 10 steps behind.
First, we know the industry is struggling from sector to sector, but cyber attacks will only make it worse, so the first move is ensuring everybody is educated in cyber security awareness.
Preferably starting from the top and working down so the entire seafaring community can spot a cyber-attack and know what action to take in response.
Experienced educational companies (such as ECDIS Ltd, DNV GL, Maritime Training, NCC Group, JWC Int.) exist that offer in-depth, classroom based courses in the subject of cyber security.

Crewless ships might be the target of cyberattacks
Platform supply vessels – Autonomy means more potential routes for infection
(Courtesy of Rolls-Royce)

Countless companies are missing the correct procedures when it comes to security.
A robust IT security policy is highly recommended, as this allows employees and users of all IT equipment to be clear as to how company data and information should be used on IT equipment.
It’s not just small companies either that struggle in this war against cyber activists.
Large corporations are also at major exposure risk, primarily due to not having a dedicated IT and security team.
It is recommended that a company appoints a cyber security chief to implement and respond to all cyber security related issues or system flaws that may be found.
This is so one person has ultimate responsibility for implementing and maintaining all cyber security measures within the company thus ensuring consistency of approach.

Cyber security attacks are incorrectly thought of as attacks that occur just over the internet due to the wrong security measures being taken; however lack of physical security can also be a major factor in the cause of industry changing attacks.
During the twentieth century a majority of attacks occur due to people not taking the correct measures to keep our IT equipment safe, another reason why we need everyone to be aware of what’s coming.
It really is as easy as someone to come into your reception and ask you to print off a copy of their CV from a USB stick, which is actually infected with multiple viruses, this could ultimately allow someone else complete control of your businesses entire network and therefore most likely, thereby destroying it.

In summary, cyber security isn’t an issue we can ignore, it may not be heard of yet as giving direct threats towards our vessels but this will come in time when noticed by any cybercrime activists who either want to damage the industry or cause major damage to infrastructure or even human life.
It can be averted.
Many, if not all, shipping companies have some form of internal networked server that allows for all of their computers to communicate and send and save files between them, and therefore also connect to the internet, so with the improper procedures in place it could be easy for anyone keen to infect an auxiliary piece of equipment that connects to the primary.
Think of the random software updates that happen every day, for example to an engine room sensor test, or to the bridges digital anemometer that may appear non safety critical, but they are connected to safety critical systems.
We often concentrate and develop robust procedures purely for the few safety critical pieces of equipment, but the attack will take place on a tertiary system that is connected to it.

Links :

Thursday, April 13, 2017

New Zealand Linz update in the GeoGarage platform

10 nautical raster charts updates

Adam Greenland, National Hydrographer, talks about the work
LINZ does to produce navigation information for staying safe at sea.

Renewables' deep-sea mining conundrum

In 1989 German ocean researchers started a unique long-term experiment off the coast of Peru.
To explore the effects of potential deep sea mining on the seabed, they plowed in about eleven square kilometer area around the seabed.

From BBC by

British scientists exploring an underwater mountain in the Atlantic Ocean have discovered a treasure trove of rare minerals.
Their investigation of a seamount more than 500km (300 miles) from the Canary Islands has revealed a crust of "astonishingly rich" rock.
Samples brought back to the surface contain the scarce substance tellurium in concentrations 50,000 times higher than in deposits on land.
Tellurium is used in a type of advanced solar panel, so the discovery raises a difficult question about whether the push for renewable energy may encourage mining of the seabed.
The rocks also contain what are called rare earth elements that are used in wind turbines and electronics.

Energy implications

Known as Tropic Seamount, the mountain stands about 3,000m tall – about the size of one of the middle-ranging Alpine summits – with a large plateau at its top, lying about 1,000m below the ocean surface.
Using robotic submarines, researchers from the UK's National Oceanography Centre found that the crust is dark and fine-grained and stretches in a layer roughly 4cm thick over the entire surface of the mountain.
Dr Bram Murton, the leader of the expedition, told the BBC that he had been expecting to find abundant minerals on the seamount but not in such concentrations.
"These crusts are astonishingly rich and that's what makes these rocks so incredibly special and valuable from a resource perspective."
He has calculated that the 2,670 tonnes of tellurium on this single seamount represents one-twelfth of the world's total supply.
And Dr Murton has come up with a hypothetical estimate that if the entire deposit could be extracted and used to make solar panels, it could meet 65% of the UK's electricity demand.

 Tropic Seamount: The mountain stands about 3,000m tall 
source : NOC / NERC

He says he is not advocating deep-sea mining, which has yet to start anywhere in the world and is likely to be highly controversial because of the damage it could cause to the marine environment.
But Dr Murton does want his team's discovery, part of a major research project called MarineE-Tech, to trigger a debate about where vital resources should come from.
"If we need green energy supplies, then we need the raw materials to make the devices that produce the energy so, yes, the raw materials have to come from somewhere.
"We either dig them up from the ground and make a very large hole or dig them from the seabed and make a comparatively smaller hole.
"It's a dilemma for society - nothing we do comes without a cost."
Scientists are now weighing up the relative risks and merits of mining on land as opposed to on the seabed.

Scientists fear that even before one of the last frontiers of exploration, the ocean deep, has been properly studied it will already have been exploited by commercial deep-sea mining looking for rare

Mines on land often require forests and villages to be cleared, overlying rocks to be removed and roads or railways to be built in order to extract ores with relatively weak concentrations of minerals.
By contrast, mines on the seabed would extract far richer ores, covering a smaller area and with no immediate impact on people - but instead killing marine life wherever digging machines are deployed and potentially devastating a far wider area.
One major concern is the effect of plumes of dust, stirred up by excavation of the ocean floor, spreading for long distances and smothering all life wherever it settles.
To understand the implications, the expedition to Tropic Seamount conducted an experiment, the first of its kind, to mimic the effects of mining and to measure the resulting plume.
Deploying from the UK research ship James Cook, a remotely operated vehicle deliberately pumped out hundreds of litres of sediment-filled water every minute while other robotic sensors were positioned downstream in the ocean current.
According to Dr Murton, early results indicate that dust was hard to detect 1km away from the source of the plume, suggesting that the impact of mining could be more localised than many fear.
But this comes as different disciplines within marine science are coming up with a range of perspectives on this emerging development.

The ocean has a wealth of resources.
From food, to travel, to pharmaceutical needs, and to energy, the ocean has always provided for mankind.
And now, mankind is turning to the ocean for minerals and metals needed for the technology we use in our everyday lives.
An exploration into the emerging industry of deep sea mining leads to more questions than answers.

Lucrative nodules

A study led by Dr Daniel Jones, also at the NOC, reviewed evidence of seabed exploration and found that in the wake of mining many marine creatures would be likely to recover within a year but that few would return to their previous levels even after two decades.
Another study focused on tiny organisms on the floor of the Pacific Ocean in a region known as the Clarion-Clipperton Zone, which stretches in a belt south of Hawaii.
Much of this zone has been licensed by the UN's International Seabed Authority to companies from more than a dozen countries to search for minerals in the potato-sized rocks or "nodules" lying on the seabed.
Prof Andy Gooday, also of the NOC, and colleagues found that among the metals-rich nodules, there is a far greater diversity of single-celled organisms called xenophyophores than previously thought.
Their research identified as many as 34 species of these lifeforms that are new to science.

 The concern would be for the ecosystems that are built around any mined seamount

These organisms occupy one of the lower rungs in the food chain and also play an important role by forming hard shell-like structures, like miniature coral reefs, that provide habitats for other creatures.
Prof Gooday says that the range of life in the sediments of the deep ocean can be compared with that of a tropical rainforest and that "life on the ocean floor is more dynamic" than anyone expected.
He believes it is unlikely that seabed mining would cause species to go extinct but that the impact locally would be severe.
"If you eliminate these xenophyphores, which are very fragile and would certainly be destroyed by mining, it would destroy habitat structure for other organisms.
"It's difficult to predict and, like everything in the deep sea connected with the effects of mining, we need to learn more – we still know so little about what's going on down there."

Links :

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Ocean tech: Robot sea snakes and shoal-swimming subs

The self-propelling Eelume robot moves like a snake through the water
source : Kongsberg

From BBC by Zoe Kleinman

In the near future, ocean search-and-repair specialists won't need arms or legs, according to one vision.

In fact, they are destined to be much more slithery.
"We try to get people to move away from the word snake because it's seen as kind of scary but even I find myself all the time calling it a snake," says Richard Mills from marine tech firm Kongsberg.
If the idea of a swimming robot snake doesn't appeal, you might want to skip the next few paragraphs.
I first mentioned Eelume to a friend who asked me whether I would be allowed to have a swim with it.
I was secretly relieved that the answer was no.
What started as a university robotics research project in Norway 10 years ago, has become a commercial prototype - and it is unavoidably snake-like.
It's designed to inspect structures on the sea bed and carry out repairs, and is currently being tested on oil rigs.
The flexible, self-propelling, tubular device has a camera at each end and is kitted out with sensors.
Because it has a modular design, its parts can be switched to suit different tasks, with swappable tools including a grabber and cleaning brush.

The Eelume robot sea snake that could one day explore the Titanic

The design allows the robot to work in confined spaces that might be inaccessible to other vehicles, as well as to wriggle its body to stay in place in strong currents.
And because it is designed to connect itself to a seabed dock when not in use, it can be deployed at any time whatever the surface conditions.

It isn't yet on the market, but was recently on show at the Southampton's Ocean Business trade fair.
Future plans already include a cheap 3D-printed model and another which can operate in very deep water.
"Something like going inside the Titanic, where divers can't, is a great opportunity that we could look at in the future," said Mr Mills.
"We are only limited by imagination in where we can take this vehicle."

ASV Global is leading the development and deployment of autonomous boats in both military and commercial applications across the globe.

Self-driving boats

Just as driverless cars are causing excitement on land, autonomous boats are also making a splash.
"Unmanned systems allow you to focus on the data," said Dan Hook from UK firm ASV Global, which was also at the Southampton expo.
"You stay on board your ship in a warm, dry location, you can focus on the data and where to send the unmanned system next."
The firm's two autonomous vessels - which can also be operated via remote control - currently run on diesel generators rather than battery power.
"We're seeing increasing regulation on the types of engines we can use - it's a good thing to force you into the cleaner engines," he said.
"They are quieter and more efficient... but the future is electric, we're seeing it in cars, it's happening in our industry as well."

 Project to create pressure tolerant battery pack for Marine Autonomous Systems (MAS).
Consortium headed by Steatite.

Sea batteries

Batteries from the specialist battery-maker Steatite's have to function at low temperatures and high pressure, and power deep-sea devices for days at a time.
Lithium-sulfur battery tech, already in the sights of electric car makers, is set to be trialled on board the famous autosub trio collectively known as Boaty McBoatface later this year - and it will be a Steatite creation.
"Lithium-sulfur is the next generation from lithium-ion," said the firm's Paul Edwards.
"It's got a better energy density, so you get more energy for the amount of weight you are carrying."
But if you think that it is battery life that holds marine tech back, then think again.

Deep Trekker builds portable and easy to use submersible robots.

It is more likely to be your concentration span, said Sam McDonald, president of a Canadian firm called Deep Trekker.
The firm was demonstrating two remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs) - the larger of which was about the size of a small child.
Ms McDonald said that the operator would become tired before the ROV did.
"I need to take a break after three or four hours of running it," she said.
"You're looking at a screen the whole time, it takes a great deal of concentration.
"You're trying to hold position under the water, looking at infrastructure or watching tools or divers work, you're constantly moving your hands and eyes," she explained.
If that sounds exhausting imagine being in charge of a whole load of them at once.

Return to sender... rewards will be offered for washed-up ecosubs


Planet Ocean was showing off the ecosub - a small, thigh-sized device that looks a bit like an old shell casing and is designed to "swim" in shoals, with each individual sub packed with different sensors to build up collectively a strong picture of the group's watery environment.
One "pilot" can oversee many simultaneously, and they are so small that each individual sub can only carry four or five sensors, said managing director Terry Sloane.
"If they bump into each other it's not a big disaster," he said.
"They only weigh 5kg [11lb] on land".
Keen to encourage recycling, Mr Sloane is prepared to offer a bounty for washed-up ecosubs that find their way to the beach - there's a hotline number on the casing for eagle-eyed beachcombers to call.
"We don't want to leave things floating around in the ocean, but it doesn't take many hours of searching for one to make it uneconomical to recover," he said.
"We expect people to recover them and claim a reward."

Links :

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Great Barrier Reef at 'terminal stage': scientists despair at latest coral bleaching data

Aerial view of parts of the Great Barrier Reef that has experienced coral bleaching, March 2017.
Video courtesy ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.

‘Last year was bad enough, this is a disaster,’ says one expert as Australia Research Council finds fresh damage across 8,000km 

Back-to-back severe bleaching events have affected two-thirds of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, new aerial surveys have found.
The findings have caused alarm among scientists, who say the proximity of the 2016 and 2017 bleaching events is unprecedented for the reef, and will give damaged coral little chance to recover.

Scientists with the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies last week completed aerial surveys of the world’s largest living structure, scoring bleaching at 800 individual coral reefs across 8,000km.
The results show the two consecutive mass bleaching events have affected a 1,500km stretch, leaving only the reef’s southern third unscathed.
Where last year’s bleaching was concentrated in the reef’s northern third, the 2017 event spread further south, and was most intense in the middle section of the Great Barrier Reef.
This year’s mass bleaching, second in severity only to 2016, has occurred even in the absence of an El Niño event.

Mass bleaching – a phenomenon caused by global warming-induced rises to sea surface temperatures – has occurred on the reef four times in recorded history.
Prof Terry Hughes, who led the surveys, said the length of time coral needed to recover – about 10 years for fast-growing types – raised serious concerns about the increasing frequency of mass bleaching events.
“The significance of bleaching this year is that it’s back to back, so there’s been zero time for recovery,” Hughes told the Guardian.
“It’s too early yet to tell what the full death toll will be from this year’s bleaching, but clearly it will extend 500km south of last year’s bleaching.”

 Aerial surveys of the world’s largest living structure, scoring bleaching at 800 individual coral reefs across 8,000km.
Photograph: Ed Roberts/ARC 

Last year, in the worst-affected areas to the reef’s north, roughly two-thirds of shallow-water corals were lost.
Hughes has warned Australia now faces a closing window to save the reef by taking decisive action on climate change.
The 2017 bleaching is likely to be compounded by other stresses on the reef, including the destructive crown-of-thorns starfish and poor water quality.
The category-four tropical cyclone Debbie came too late and too far south for its cooling effect to alleviate bleaching.

But Hughes said its slow movement across the reef was likely to have caused destruction to coral along a path up to 100km wide.
“It added to the woes of the bleaching. It came too late to stop the bleaching, and it came to the wrong place,” he said.
The University of Technology Sydney’s lead reef researcher, marine biologist David Suggett, said that to properly recover, affected reefs needed to be connected to those left untouched by bleaching.
He said Hughes’ survey results showed such connectivity was in jeopardy.
“It’s that connection ultimately that will drive the rate and extent of recovery,” Suggett said. “So if bleaching events are moving around the [Great Barrier Reef] system on an annual basis, it does really undermine any potential resilience through connectivity between neighbouring reefs.”
Some reef scientists are now becoming despondent.
Water quality expert, Jon Brodie, told the Guardian the reef was now in a “terminal stage”.
Brodie has devoted much of his life to improving water quality on the reef, one of a suite of measures used to stop bleaching.

 ARC conducted an aerial and underwater survey of the reef which concluded that two-thirds of it has been hit by mass coral bleaching for second time in 12 months.
Photograph: Ed Roberts/ARC

He said measures to improve water quality, which were a central tenet of the Australian government’s rescue effort, were failing.
“We’ve given up. It’s been my life managing water quality, we’ve failed,” Brodie said.
“Even though we’ve spent a lot of money, we’ve had no success.”
Brodie used strong language to describe the threats to the reef in 2017.
He said the compounding effect of back-to-back bleaching, Cyclone Debbie, and run-off from nearby catchments should not be understated.
“Last year was bad enough, this year is a disaster year,” Brodie said.
“The federal government is doing nothing really, and the current programs, the water quality management is having very limited success. It’s unsuccessful.”

 Bleached coral at Mission Beach Reefs.
Photograph: Bette Willis/ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies

Others remain optimistic, out of necessity.
Jon Day was a director of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority for 16 years until retiring in 2014.
Day, whose expertise lies in protected area planning and management, said the federal government’s approach to protecting the reef was sorely lacking.
He said it was taking too relaxed an approach to fishing, run-off and pollution from farming, and the dumping of maintenance dredge spoil.
The government was far short of the $8.2bn investment needed to meet water quality targets, he said, and Australia was on track to fail its short-term 2018 water quality targets, let alone achieve more ambitious long-term goals.
“You’ve got to be optimistic, I think we have to be,” Day said.
“But every moment we waste, and every dollar we waste, isn’t helping the issue. We’ve been denying it for so long, and now we’re starting to accept it. But we’re spending insufficient amounts addressing the problem.”

The latest surveys spell more bad news for the Great Barrier Reef. Following a record high water surface temperature and mass bleaching event in 2016, the Australian icon may be on track for a similar event this year.
Aerial and underwater footage from 2016 and 2017, shown in this video, shows the extent of the bleaching and die-off, which has already impacted large portions of the reef.

The Queensland tourism industry raised questions about the reliability of the survey, saying scientists had previously made exaggerated claims about mortality rates and bleaching.

“There is no doubt that we have had a significant bleaching event off Cairns this time around,” said Col McKenzie, of the Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators.
“The far north probably did a little bit better, Port Douglas to Townsille has seen some significant bleaching,” he said.
“Fortunately we haven’t seen much mortality at this time, and fortunately the temperatures have fallen.”
McKenzie said more money needed to be invested in water quality measures, and criticised what he saw as a piecemeal and uncoordinated approach to water quality projects up and down the coast.

Underwater video shows where bleaching has damaged the Great Barrier Reef

Links :

Monday, April 10, 2017

What can the South China Sea learn from the Arctic?

USS Connecticut surfaces above the ice during ICEX 2011.​
Flickr/U.S. Navy

From CIMSEC by Commanderin the Royal Norwegian Navy

The maritime region centered on the South China Sea has been a vital international trade route and reservoir of natural resources throughout modern history.
Today, its importance cannot be understated: half the volume of global shipping transits the area, competition for energy and fishing rights is intensifying between surrounding nations (with growing populations), commercial interests are increasing, and regional military spending increases lead the world.
Rivalry over resources and security has triggered disputes about sovereignty and historical rights. China has used its increasing relative power to aggressively claim sovereign rights over two-thirds of the South China Sea within the so called “Nine-Dash Line.”
Overlapping claims by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Taiwan, and Singapore are being dismissed and have sometimes resulted in armed confrontations.
Furthermore, the construction of artificial islands and significant military installations on reefs and rocks is underpinning Chinese sea control ambitions within the “First Island Chain.”
This deteriorating security environment threatens regional stability, adherence to international law, and the freedom of the seas.
Furthermore, it has the potential to escalate into conflict far beyond the levels of militarization and skirmishes between fishing fleets, coastguards and navies seen so far.

The U.S. has been deeply involved in the creation and management of the East-Asian state system since World War II, contributing to its economic progress and security arrangements, which include alliances with the Philippines, Japan and South Korea.
Thus, the regional interests of the United States include freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful commerce, relations with important partners and allies, peaceful resolution of disputes, and the recognition of maritime rights in conformity with international norms and law (with the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in particular).
These principles are universally applicable and must be upheld every time and everywhere to be respected.
Regional countries are now reconsidering the relevance and commitment of the balancing power of the U.S. in light of Beijing’s dismissal of American concerns and bilateral initiatives towards its smaller neighbors.

The Arctic region similarly holds the potential for great power rivalry, but in contrast offers a good example of peaceful settlement and compromise.
The diminishing ice cap is causing a growing emphasis on resources, international waterways, and commercial activity in the Arctic, where there are also competing claims and great power security interests represented.
However, the Arctic nations have chosen to cooperate with regards to responsible stewardship and use UNCLOS and supplementing treaties as the legal basis.
The cooperative framework is constituted by the Arctic Council, the agreed adherence to international law and arbitration tribunals, bilateral and multilateral treaties, demilitarized zones, Incident at Sea agreements, joint fisheries commissions, as well as the power balance between Russia and the NATO alliance.
As a result, although there is potential for competition and diverging national interests, mutually beneficial compromises and diplomatic solutions to maintain stability and predictability are preferred.

A map of claims on the Arctic seafloor. (Durham University)

Arctic Dispute and Resolution

Currently there are overlapping claims from Russia and Denmark for the seabed under the North Pole (Lomonosov and Alpha-Mendeleyev Ridges) under consideration by the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, and Canada is preparing another competing claim.
These claims can further be used as a basis for bilateral agreements on maritime delimitations.
This was the case between Norway and Russia in 2010, and there are prospects of a similar agreement between Russia and Denmark.
Such cooperative mechanisms, institutions and shared principles in the Arctic are far more robust than comparable efforts in the Southeast Asia, such as ASEAN or the “Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.”
The Svalbard Treaty of 1920 set a standard for international governance, and was a bold and forward looking concept when introduced almost 100 years ago.
The archipelago was discovered by Dutch explorers in 1596, and resources were since extracted by Holland, England, Russia, and Scandinavians.
Eventually, the major powers voluntarily conceded sovereignty over the islands to the young Norwegian state through a commission related to the Paris Peace Conference after World War I.
The Treaty allows visa-free access for citizens of signatory states, equal rights to extract natural resources, freedom to conduct scientific activities, ensures environmental protection, and prohibits permanent military installations.
This agreement exemplifies the feasibility of imposing restrictions on sovereign authority, the accommodation of the interests of the parties, and adherence to non-discrimination principles.

Episodes of Confrontation

Much like the South China Sea, there have been clashes between the coastal states in the Arctic.
Between 1958-1961 and in 1976, there was a state of armed conflict and diplomatic breakdown between the United Kingdom and Iceland over fishing rights.
The Royal Navy escorted British fishing vessels to confront the Icelandic Coast Guard in the contested zone.
Shots were fired, ships were rammed and seized, and fishing gear was cut loose from the ships in heated skirmishes.
However, on both occasions it was the stronger power that stood down to the weaker, as Britain finally recognized Iceland’s right to protect its resources after significant international diplomacy that included the forming of UNCLOS.

Icelandic patrol ship ICGV Óðinn and British frigate HMS Scylla clash in the North Atlantic in 1973. (Wikimedia Commons)
Other minor events in the Arctic include the 1993 Loophole dispute between Norway and Iceland, and Hans Island, the only unsolved territorial dispute, which is under negotiation between Canada and Denmark.
The successful diplomatic de-escalation of these cases is in stark contrast to the clashes between China and its rivals in events like the 2012 Scarborough Shoal standoff, the 1995 occupation of Mischief Reef in the Spratlys, the 1988 battle over the Spratly Islands, the 1976 grab of the Paracel Islands, and of course the blunt Chinese dismissal of the 2016 ruling from the International Arbitration Court against the legitimacy of the Nine-Dash Line claim.

China has mostly shown an uncompromising attitude in the South China Sea since the 1970s, without serious U.S.-led international efforts to check its use of force.
But China too has occasionally demonstrated its willingness to forward claims to international arbitration bodies, such as its 2012 submission to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf regarding the East China Sea However, that effort must be viewed in context of the ongoing efforts at the time to be accepted as observer in the Arctic Council.

Applying Arctic Lessons

The recent row between the Chinese and the U.S. Navy over an Unmanned Underwater Vehicle is symptomatic of the evolving problem, which must be addressed by the new administration in the White House.
The South China Sea currently constitutes the primary global hotspot where major and regional powers’ vital interests and alliance commitments directly clash.
A framework to manage this region must be negotiated by the two superpowers primarily and supported by the other involved nations.
It requires the will to compromise and the pursuit of mutual interests while looking forward – a set-up which could benefit from the indicated transactional policy approach of President Trump.
Any long-term solution would have to accommodate legitimate Chinese demands for security and resources.
But, the U.S. must commit strongly by dedicating all available instruments of power (diplomatic, information, military, and economic measures) to impose negative consequences unless China is willing to negotiate from its strong position.
Furthermore, the U.S. must uphold the same standards and make concessions itself.

It must therefore expediently ratify UNCLOS with its international tribunals and vow to respect the treaties that must be created to regulate sovereignty, demilitarization, commercial rights and responsibilities to protect fish stocks and the environment.
Chinese concerns about the “One China Policy,” American forward basing, and policy on the Korean peninsula must also be on the table, as well as cooperation on regional trade agreements.

Chinese J-11 fighter jet is pictured on the airstrip at Woody Island in the South China Sea in this March 29, 2017 handout satellite photo.
CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative/DigitalGlobe/Handout via Reuters

While state security can be achieved in the South China Sea through treaties, demilitarization, power balance and predictability, the conditions for prosperity flow from similar efforts.
As demonstrated in the Arctic, good order at sea and responsible stewardship encourages investments and lay the foundation for cooperative ventures that are mutually beneficial.
Uncontested sovereignty and fair trade regulations are incentives for developing expensive infrastructure necessary for harvesting resources under the seabed.
The inevitable link connecting China and the U.S. is the economic dependency between the two largest economies in the world.
So far, they have both unsuccessfully introduced regional free trade initiatives in order to create beneficial terms for themselves such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement and the Trans Pacific Partnership respectively.
An obvious flaw with these proposals is that they have excluded the opposite superpower.
Since both countries are indispensable trading partners to most others, a cooperative effort to create trade agreements would benefit both and could not be ignored.

Although unresolved sovereignty issues in the South China Sea make it a tough case, there is a model to study and lessons to be learned in the cooperative management of the Arctic region (as well as the 1959 Antarctic Treaty and the 1936 Montreux Convention).
However, controlling the impulses of a great power to dominate its surroundings requires a massive international diplomatic effort, creating alternative mutually beneficial conditions and a proper balancing of military power.
Active U.S. presence and regional capability is fundamental to maintaining a balance and influencing the shaping of a cooperative environment.
But first and foremost, there is a requirement for building trust and confidence through long term commitment to international cooperation, predictability and clear intentions.
For a start, the good examples from the Arctic have been shared with China, Japan, India, the Republic of Korea and Singapore – all of which are involved or have vital interests in the South China Sea dispute – since they became observer states to the Arctic Council in 2013.
Likewise, the U.S. can also benefit from its experience as an Arctic nation, and from the insight gained from holding the chairmanship of the Arctic Council since 2015.
Moving forward, the Arctic offers successful governance lessons that can be applied to the South China Sea in order to maintain stability and ensure prosperity for all.

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Sunday, April 9, 2017

Image of the week : Elephant rock, a natural sculture in Iceland

It seems as though gigantic elephant came to the shore of Heimaey island, to quench his thirst.
The enormous shape appears to be formed from basalt rock, that gives a surface appearance of wrinkled elephant skin.

f you want to see something really wonderful, then the Elephant rock is ideal place for you.
This rock is truly one of the amazing natural sculptures on mother earth.
The Elephant Rock is a natural rock formation found on the island of Heimaey (meaning Home Island) in Iceland’s Vestmannaeyjar archipelago.

The Elephant Rock is a natural rock formation (meaning Home Island)
in Iceland's Vestmannaeyjar archipelago

Heimaey is most inhabited island in Iceland with 4,500 residents in an area of 5.2 square miles.
The beautiful Heimaey is actually a home to Eldfell (Means “Mountain of Fire”).
This 660 foot high volcano has spewed lava on numerous occasions, leading many to believe it is the cause of the Elephant Rock The Island having a scenario such as this could have been the cause of the huge rock that happened to be shaped just like an elephant.

What a glorious mother sculpture.
I guess, you won’t believe this wonder of nature, but this is real rock not Photoshop.
Besides the amazing Elephant Rock, you might see Keiko, the whale from the Free Willy films as this was where he was actually set free, and also summer is when the island becomes populated by millions and millions of adorable puffins!
If you’re planning to visit Iceland, then Elephant Rock is a must place to see.

Localization with the GeoGarage platform (Icelandic nautical charts)

Heimaey island in Iceland

This natural rock formation off the coast of Iceland, impresses the travelers.

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