Saturday, August 12, 2017

Could J-Class yacht racing be the most expensive hobby on earth?

 Iconic J Class, Bermuda, July 2017

The spectacular J Class - only 10 were ever built from just 20 designs and their reign lasted less than a decade.
In the 1930s they were the most technically advanced yachts in the world.

For 87 years they have been the epitome of the America’s Cup.
Today, little has changed.
And when they rolled into Bermuda, the spectacle was unique.

From Gentleman's journal by Jonathan Wells

They may cost millions to maintain, but there are only 9 of these vessels left on earth

‘The initial cost isn’t really that much,’ I am told by a J-Class yacht owner as we stand at the harbour of Hamilton, Bermuda.
He clearly senses my scepticism, and is quick to clarify.
‘I mean, maybe not as expensive as you may think. The base boat still obviously costs around 10 to 20 million dollars. But the real costs start racking up when you have to pay for the upkeep, which can come in at anywhere up to $3 million every year.’

Toby Hodges was aboard Shamrock V, the oldest existing J Class, as seven J Class yachts raced for the first time ever.
See the action from onboard the J Class Shamrock V in Bermuda as seven Js are expertly guided around the course by around 30 crew members each.
Shamrock V is smaller and lighter than the modern J fleet so can only compete on handicap

It’s a painful figure, but J-Class yachts – a type of single-masted sailboat that must have either been built in the early 20th Century or produced meticulously to period plans – are beautiful to behold.
As we stand, a glass of Cloudy Bay Pelorus sparkling away in our hands, six of these beautiful vessels bob happily next to each other in the harbour.
And that’s quite a gathering – there are only 9 left on earth.

Majestic titans of sail, these boats competed just last week off the Caribbean island and, although Lionheart may have taken the crown, two of the competitors – Shamrock V and Endeavour – are genuine 1930s boats.
Exploring the vessels in the Princess Marina is incredibly exciting, with worn wooden decks and burnished brass fittings giving the yachts a truly antique feel. 

J Class Svea at Newport Bridge
George Bekris photo
But speaking to the owners is almost as awe-inspiring as stepping aboard the boats themselves.
And it isn’t because of their passion for sailing – although they have that by the boatful – but rather their capacity for spending.
Granted, these are rich men, dynastic heirs or titans of industry, but they don’t even seem to think twice about spending a million in a month on fixing up their boats.

Not only that, but the owners are more than happy to let this level of expenditure slip under the radar.
Whereas most men wouldn’t even be able to buy a new car without posting a few choice snaps on Instagram, these sailors can splash substantial cash on these vessels without as much as sending out a single tweet. 

And, while the owners are secretive about revealing too many details about the boats in the Cloudy Bay J Class, there are certain snippets that show just how pricey these boats can be.
One vessel has an entirely mahogany-veneered interior (all taken from one tree), another has ensuites tiled throughout in original black-and-white 1930s bathroom tiles and a third has a dedicated wine cellar stuffed – literally – to the gunnels with everything from Te Koko to Te Wahi.

So, next time you watch these 140ft kings of the sea set sail, remember: those base boats may be just a ‘drop in the ocean’, but it’s the decadence below decks which makes racing these superyachts the ‘most expensive hobby on earth’.

Links :

Friday, August 11, 2017

The naming of seas: the associated problems and their resolutions

The Publication S-23 "Limits of Oceans and Seas" was published by the IHB in 1929 to define names and limits of seas and to be used for safe navigation, hydrography and oceanography.
S-23 was based on the Resolution adopted in the first International Hydrographic Conference in London in 1919, which mentioned that names and limits of seas and oceans should be defined for safe navigation.
S-23 1st edition, 1928 :
The very end of the legend is the "Southern Ocean" (mers du Sud).

From Economic Times by Vikram Doctor

In May 1988, the Times of India (ToI) reported on an issue riling readers of Pakistan Times, a now defunct newspaper that was then owned by the Pakistani government.
This was the name of the Indian Ocean which they felt was unfairly linked to this country simply because “by calling itself India the country seemed to have become heir to the entire history of the subcontinent.”

One writer felt that the fairer approach would be to limit the use of India up to August 1947 and after that “what remained outside Pakistan and Bangladesh should be called Bharat.”
But since the Indian government had not been so obliging, writers felt Pakistan should not go along with this historical and geographic appropriation and should stop using the term “Indian Ocean’.

One writer proposed calling it the Indo-Pak Ocean as a fair solution.
A more diplomatic correspondent felt this would annoy other countries in the region, but suggested that, because many of these countries were Islamic, the Muslim Ocean was the right term.
“All Muslim countries should agree to such a proposition and the matter should be taken up at the Organisation of Islamic Conference,” he says.”

Chart of the Indian and Part of the Pacific Oceans, 1870

Pakistan’s irritation with the Indian Ocean name goes back even further.
In March 1971, ToI reported on a presentation made by Latif Ahmed Sherwani of the Pakistani Institution of International Affairs at a seminar in Georgetown University, Washington DC, on Indian Ocean affairs.

Sherwani pointed out that the Mediterranean wasn’t known as the Italian Sea, despite Italy occupying a prominent position in it, just as India did in the Indian Ocean.
So in the same way a name should be used that was more respectful of the many countries around the Indian Ocean’s rim.
He suggested calling it “the eastern ocean or the Afro-Asian ocean.”

 courtesy of CPGS

Even further back though, an objection to ‘Indian Ocean’ came not from Pakistan, but Indonesia.
In July, 1963 ToI reported the startling news that Indonesia's President Sukarno wanted Indonesia's Navy to call the Indian Ocean as the Indonesian Ocean and his Chief of Staff of the Navy Eddy Martadinata had issued an order making the change.
Martadinata later became ambassador to Pakistan where he may have enjoyed meeting others peeved about the persistence of ‘Indian Ocean.’

China’s position

Matters of sea are important to Indonesia which is a nation of islands.
This includes the Natuna Islands, an archipelago of 272 small islands that lie in a part of the sea where they rub up against China.
That whole area is generally known as the South China Sea but last week the Indonesian government said that the part near their islands would now be called the North Natuna Sea.

 Natuna islands with the GeoGarage platform (NGA chart)

China’s response was predictable.
“Some countries so-called renaming is meaningless,” said a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman.
Some idea of Chinese views about the region can be seen in a statement made at an international conference in 2015 by Chinese Vice Admiral Yuan Yubai, who stated bluntly, “the South China Sea, as the name indicates, is a sea area that belongs to China.”

The Chinese government’s position on the sea is inherited from its predecessor, the Republic of China (RoC).
In the aftermath of World War II the RoC released the Nine-Dash line, a map with nine dashes encompassing nearly all of the sea between the Chinese mainland and the countries of South-East Asia, all claimed for China.

After the RoC collapsed and moved to Taiwan, its communist successor continued to maintain the claim (though the RoC in Taiwan has never officially dropped it either).

According to the Resolution, the name "Sea of Japan" was registered in 1923 and was adopted in 1929. After the publication of S-23, cartographers all over the world have been referring to the publication when they produce maps and charts.
Since the 1st edition of S-23, the name "Sea of Japan" has been used until the 3rd edition was published in 1953 when the Republic of Korea was not a Member State of the IHO.
After the long usage of S-23, it was decided at the 11th International Hydrographic Conference in 1977 that a new edition of S-23 should be produced, and the IHB made a draft 4th edition and circulated the draft to all Member States in 1986.
However, it was not adopted.
After a long preparation of a new edition of S-23, the IHB circulated a new draft 4th edition of S-23 in August 2002.
There were various changes - for instance, the name of the publication was changed from "Limits of Oceans and Seas" to "Names and Limits of Oceans and Seas", and 60 seas were given new names. However, the publication did not include the name of the sea area between Korea and Japan and left it blank.
The IHB suddenly withdrew the draft 40 days after the circulation due to various problems.

Wide Gulf

An even more intensely felt maritime dispute in the region has been running for decades over the name for the sea between Korea and Japan.
The general convention is to call this the Sea of Japan, but South and North Korea affirm passionately that they always called this the East Sea and that its appropriation by Japan continues the humiliating colonisation of Korea by Japan and atrocities committed during WWII.
The Koreas have pleaded in multiple international meetings for at least parity, with both names being recognised, but Japan remains stonily unresponsive, inflaming the matter even more.

Another dispute over maritime naming, in a particularly volatile region, is over the Persian Gulf.
The ancient Greeks referred to this as the Sinus Persicus, with Sinus Arabicus (Arabian Gulf) sometimes used for what became more commonly known as the Red Sea.
The six Arab countries who border the Persian Gulf strongly feel that their control of around 70% of the coastline gives them the right to rename it the Arabian Gulf now.

 Sinus Persicus Qatif map, 1658

Iran refuses to countenance this even though, ironically, it has moved away from the term Persia in most other ways.
The term Iran, which derives from Aryan, applies for most of the country, except in matter concerning the Gulf.
There is an official National Persian Gulf Day on April 30th, the top Iranian soccer teams play in the Persian Gulf Pro League and airlines found to be using any term other than Persian Gulf on their in-flight information systems are banned from flying in Iranian air-space.

According to a paper by Martin Levinson, following the Islamic Revolution of 1979 there were moves to promote the term Islamic Gulf – which presumably the Pakistani proponents of the Muslim Ocean would have appreciated.
This idea disappeared after the start of the inter-Islamic Iran-Iraq war, but apparently was revived by Osama bin-Laden and used as a term to rally Islamic militants.

Limits of Oceans and Seas (1953) : sheet 3 Indonesia

Building blocks

This underlines the larger dangers of maritime naming disputes.
Land based naming disputes are numerous, but they tend to settled by the brute principle of physical possession.
Laying claim to the open sea is harder and it is partly why opponents try and enlist more solid features like continental shelves, shoals and reefs as a way to buttress their position (China has been accused of actually building islands for this purpose).

The real problems come with the economic benefits which, inconveniently tend to be less easy to pin down.
Sea lanes for ships tend to be in the most open waters, submarine oil and gas fields stretch in unpredictable directions and shoals of fish which, as they dwindle through overfishing are increasingly desperately sought after by national fishing fleets, and are the hardest of all to demarcate in national areas.

 From IHO 23-3rd: Limits of Oceans and Seas, Special Publication 23, 3rd Edition 1953,
published by the International Hydrographic Organization.

Accidental ownership

In all this India is something of an exception.
Our name attaches to one of the largest maritime expanses of all, but the country has never seemed too concerned about defending this.
Periodically our politicians boast about the blue-water ambitions of the Indian Navy and the potential of Indian Ocean commerce, but they then go back to land based issues.
Coastal issues are literally marginal in India, with fishing communities struggling to receive the same attention paid to farming ones.

This might reflect the fact that our ownership of the Ocean name is somewhat accidental.
As with most things involving the predominantly Western developed system of cartography, it was first used by the Greeks tracking the sources of the prized spices and textiles from India.
As Martin W.Lewis explains in his essay ‘Dividing the Ocean Sea’ (1999), the Greeks began the somewhat arbitrary division between sea (thalassa) which meant the Mediterranean for them, and the wider Oceanos, the world of sea that lay at the edge of the world of land.

Travel and trade made them refine this view and from fairly early on the term Indikon pelagos was used for the seas around India.
The Roman geographers who built on their knowledge occasionally made a distinction between the waters closer to India and the open sea they knew existed beyond Ceylon, which they called Mare Prosodum or the Green Sea.
Other terms were used like Oceanus Orientalis, Ethiopian Ocean (for the parts closer to Africa) and Mare Barbaricum, but probably following the traders who actually sailed the seas, they always came back to Indian Ocean.

 An unusual and attractive 1658 map of the Indian Ocean, or Erythraean Sea, as it was in antiquity. Composed by Jan Jansson after a similar 1597 map published by A. Ortelius in his Parergon .
Covers from Egypt and the Nile valley eastward past Arabia and India, to Southeast Asia and Java. Cartographically, India, Arabia, and Africa roughly correspond to the conventions of the period. Southeast Asia is less recognizable, but the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, and Java are clearly noted.
Most of the place names used throughout are derived from Ptolemy, who himself based his description of the region heavily on records from Alexander the Great's conquests.
Two smaller maps in the upper left and right quadrants are of exceptional interest.
The upper left chart shows northwestern Africa and is titled Annonis Periplus.
This is a reference to the legendary expeditions of the Carthaginian King Hanno, said to have been the first to access the Indian Ocean by sailing around the southern tip of Africa.
Incidentally, en route, he is also said to have been the first to tame a lion.
The upper right chart shows the northern polar regions as they were perceived at the time.
A landmass covering the polar ice cap is indentified as Hyperborea.
To the left of this, roughly where North America rests today, the island of Atlantis appears; while Scythia, Europe (Thule) and Asia are on the right. Greenland and possibly Iceland appear at the bottom.
This map is intended to point out the possibility of a Northeast Passage to Asia, which was at the time being actively sought after by Dutch, English, and Russian navigators.
Both smaller maps, the primary title area at top center, and an Latin explanation for the map at bottom center, are surrounded by baroque strapwork style borders.
This remarkable map was published in volume six, the Orbis Antiquus , of Jan Jansson's Novus Atlas .
Bharatiya Ocean ? 

This persisted through the 16th century as increasing knowledge from the global voyages of explorers like Magellan lead to the creation of the first atlases.
The Atlantic has received its name from the Greeks, who saw it as the edge of the world, held up by the giant Atlas, but then explorers broke through to the Pacific, after sailing down south and surviving the storms of Cape Horn at the tip of South America, to come to the more peaceful seas to its north.

Explorers going north and south added the Arctic and Antarctic Oceans, although geographers have argued about whether these count or not.
Different divisions have given the seven oceans that, in number at least, correspond to the seven seas of ancient Arabic and Indian legend, or four oceans, or even just one – as one geographer pointed out, if you invert the globe and look from the South Pole there is just one vast sea with three great bays that are the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans.

Even in this the Indian connection remains, and oddly the only threat to it might come from ultra-nationalists who believe in elevating the term Bharat over India.
They argue that this internal name should be the external one too, ignoring the long global history of the use of India.
They might want to consider how imposing this change would delight maritime minded Pakistanis since the chances of getting the world to accept the idea of a Bharatiya Ocean accepted are nil.

Links :

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Japan offers archival evidence in island territorial disputes

An aerial view of the Liancourt Rocks, called Takeshima in Japan and Dokdo in South Korea.
Associated Press

From WSJ by Jun Hongo

The Japanese government posted two archives online that it says bolster its case for sovereignty over islands also claimed by China and South Korea.

1861 Map of Ulleungdo

The documents, images and other records were originally held by local governments, some which were not previously available to the public, according to the Office of Policy Planning and Coordination on Territory and Sovereignty.

About 100 support Japan’s case that that Liancourt Rocks, known as Takeshima in Japanese, belong to Japan, the office said.
The islands are administered by South Korea, which refers to them as Dokdo.
Another 100 items are evidence of Japan’s rights to uninhabited islands in the East China Sea known as the Senkakus in Japan and the Diaoyu in China, the office said.

China also claims sovereignty over the islands.
“The database was created to show that Japan’s claim is based on objective facts,” a government official told Japan Real Time.

Items include a document from 1903 showing records of Japanese fishermen hunting sea lions on the Liancourt Rocks, and Okinawa prefecture records from 1890 on the state of fishery at the Senkakus/Diaoyu.
The office said it is to translate parts of the database into English, and may also prepare Korean and Chinese versions.
Tokyo has said the two territories are “indisputably an inherent part of the territory of Japan in light of historical facts and based upon international law.”

This video was produced by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea in order to share the historical significance of the name, “East Sea,” which has been used for over 2,000 years, and legitimacy of the indication “East Sea” in accordance with resolutions of relevant international organizations based on objective historical facts.

South Korea has said on its own website that the Liancourt Rocks are “an integral part of Korea’s territory historically, geographically and under international law,” offering its own evidence.
China also calls the Senkakus/Diaoyu  “an inherent territory of China,” with the government saying there are clear historical and legal grounds supporting China’s claim to sovereignty.

Links :

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

New Zealand Linz update in the GeoGarage platform

16 nautical raster charts updated

Robot revolution: new generation of cheap drones to explore the seas

The Spotter’s sensors collect data on ocean conditions and beams the information via satellite to scientists’ laptops and smartphones

From NewsDeeply by Matthew O. Berger

Blue technologies being developed in the San Francisco Bay Area aim to give scientists and citizens low-cost tools to gather and share high-quality data on ocean conditions.

While waves that once a year become the monster swells ridden by surfers in the Mavericks surf contest roll toward the harbor of this small fishing town south of San Francisco, oceanographer Tim Janssen sits in an office a block from the sea with a handful of colleagues and two dogs.
They’re working on a small sensor-laden device he hopes to deploy by the thousands to gather data on those waves and other ocean conditions.
Called the Spotter, the yellow space capsule-shaped float is about the size of a beach ball.
Solar panels keep its batteries charged and the data gathered by its sensors is beamed via satellite to scientists’ laptops and smartphones.
The Spotter is part of an explosion of new, cheaper tools for oceanographic research, giving scientists access to more real-time data about the ocean.

“There’s no better time to have this tech revolution happen than right now,” says Douglas McCauley, a marine biologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
He also serves as a director of the Benioff Ocean Initiative, which aims to spur technological innovation to address ocean acidification, rising water temperatures, overfishing and other threats to the ocean.

The types of technologies being developed mirror terrestrial innovations – drones, autonomous vehicles, smartphones.
“Oceanographers, because of limited resources, have always tried to get by with less,” says Mark Schrope, program director of Schmidt Marine Technology Partners in San Francisco, which funds ocean technology startups.
“Whatever it is – ocean conservation, ocean data – there’s some technology on land that could really transform that area.”

The San Francisco Bay Area, home to a concentration of engineers, entrepreneurs and marine scientists, is emerging as a center of this new wave of blue technology.

On the other side of the peninsula from Silicon Valley, Janssen’s startup, Spoondrift, will start shipping its $6,000 Spotter this fall.
His ultimate vision is a constellation of data-gathering Spotters deployed across the ocean that send back a wealth of high-resolution information that can be analyzed in real time.
The current version of the Spotter gathers data on wave height, peak period, peak direction and location.

Janssen pulls up a map of a network of data-collecting buoys operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The red and yellow dots representing the buoys are clustered along the coasts.
But most of the open ocean remains a blue void.
Even closer to shore, a buoy may be the only one for miles collecting data on sea surface temperatures and wave activity.

Janssen, an oceanographer at San Francisco State University before starting Spoondrift in 2016, says marine scientists have “learned to live with very sparse data.”
“Everyone is building their own instruments but building them for themselves,” he says.
“We’re taking it one step further.”

More sensors would mean higher-resolution data on ocean acidification, surface temperatures and other marine conditions, showing how variables differ from one spot to another (or to tell you the exact conditions at your favorite surf breaks or fishing spots).
“If you want to find why, say, this coral is bleaching and that isn’t, you’ll need lots of sensors to be able to rule out temperature,” says Schrope.

Real time data access

Janssen brings up a map created by a fleet of sensors Spoondrift sent out from the mouth of the Columbia River in Oregon, a notoriously choppy and unpredictable patch of water to navigate and study.
They sent out so many sensors that the data collected was sufficiently high-resolution for the team to be able to recreate a simulated imageof what the waves looked like.
Making images like that isn’t in the company’s near-term plans as it is focused on obtaining high-resolution data that can yield a complete picture of ocean surface conditions.

Easy to use and deploy

Spoondrift says the Spotter costs about a tenth of the price of weather buoy and does not require a large vessel and winch to deploy it.
The 12lb (5.4kg) device can simply be picked up and dropped into the water.

McCauley notes that his research has been hobbled by a lack of high-quality data about what’s happening physically in the habitats he studies as the cost of sensors prevents their widespread deployment.

The vastness of the ocean – covering two-thirds of the planet – means that scientists need help from both new technologies and a growing legion of smartphone-wielding citizen scientists.

To try to determine the size of giant sea bass populations, McCauley has been tracking fish based on the unique markings each individual sports.
With the help of software, his team has reviewed thousands of photos of giant sea bass posted online by recreational divers, vacationers and whoever else shares photos of big fish.
“It’s about being able to leverage the power of people and our tendencies to post what we see,” he says.

OpenROV, a Berkeley, California startup funded by Schmidt Marine Technology Partners, hopes its technology will spur many more ocean images.
The company makes a tethered “underwater drone” that streams video of life under the sea to the operator’s smartphone or tablet, which is also used to control the device.
OpenROV’s newest model, the Trident, costs $1,500 and looks like a swimming Wi-Fi router with headlights.
It can venture to depths of 328ft (100m) and hits the market in August.

OpenROV’s newest underwater drone can venture to depths of 328ft (100m).

Cofounder David Lang was working at a sailing school when the urge to explore under the waves hit him. But he and his friends couldn’t afford a remotely operated vehicle (ROV).
“The technology had been around for a while, but it was expensive,” he says.
“So we started creating our own,” starting with a DIY kit and later a consumer product.
“But now we’re hearing from lots of people who actually need it,” adds Lang, including climate change researchers in Maine and biologists studying the foraging of minke whales.

A few years ago underwater videos like those taken with OpenROV’s drones would have only been affordable for a select few.
Today, they’re “within the reach of well-funded elementary schools and Girl Scouts who are really good at selling cookies,” McCauley says.

And more people taking and sharing underwater images would mean more data points for his research.
“If you think about engaging citizen scientists, you have to figure out what kind of data they would find interesting,” McCauley says.
“They’re not necessarily interested in salinity data, but are interested in photos and videos.”

These new exploration technologies are taking a ­range of forms.
A humanoid robot diver developed by a Stanford University team can spend more time at depths than would be safe for a human diver.
Autonomous ships are set to start sailing the seas in 2018.
Saildrone’s autonomous wind-powered mini-sailboats can be launched to collect a range of data.
A surfboard fin that contains a sensor leverages the amount of time surfers spend in the water to collect data on ocean salinity, pH, temperature and waves.
The wave-and-solar-powered Wave Glider made by Boeing’s Liquid Robotics can roam the world’s oceans for up to a year at a time collecting data on climate change and other conditions.

Kipp Shearman, a physical oceanographer at Oregon State University, has used the Wave Glider in his research, outfitting it with different sensors to monitor ocean-atmospheric interactions and deploying the surfboard-sized robot for long periods of time.
But he’s also noticed advances in more traditional technology.
Since 2006, he has used undersea gliders, autonomous missile-shaped capsules that can stay in the water for weeks, transmitting data back to shore.
In recent years, he’s seen onboard computing power increase, allowing the gliders to “fly” in more complex ways and avoid shipping lanes.
High-density lithium batteries now allow them to operate autonomously for about a year.
“It’s been a remarkable evolution in that technology over the last 10 years,” Shearman says.
“It’s getting us to the point where I think we’re going to see a lot more persistent observation out in the ocean.”
Shearman says his colleague Jonathan Nash recently showed him pictures taken at the base of glaciers, where it would be too dangerous to send a research ship.
Nash took the photos remotely with a motorized, autonomous kayak.

The challenge now is to make sure all this data is of sufficiently high quality to be useful and that there are adequate resources to process the information.
“If I’m out there collecting pH data with a pH sensor,” McCauley says, “I know exactly what went wrong” and can disregard suspect data or factor in margins of error or variance.
But that’s harder to do with a stream of crowd-sourced data from an array of sensors.
“If some of the sensors are good and some aren’t, for instance, that could be a real train wreck,” he says.
Care will also need to be taken to roll out the new technology in a way that doesn’t interfere with the environments it is studying.
“Drones are an amazing resource for learning about terrestrial wildlife, but if everyone has one they begin to disrupt the ecosystems they’re trying to study,” says McCauley.
“The oceans are big, but often smaller than we expect, at least the parts that we find interesting. But right now the problem is not sensor traffic.”
A nearer-term challenge is processing all the data that’s starting to come in.
“One of the great challenges now on the backend, on my side, is how to deal with that fire hose of data,” says McCauley.
“Data is only good if you can process it to get an answer out of it.”

Schrope sees a “ton of potential” to develop artificial intelligence to catalog and analyze ocean data and make it easily searchable.
That may be the next step in the blue tech revolution.

Links :

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Cyber threats prompt return of radio for ship navigation

Nautical chart including Loran TD lines for ocean approaches to New York Harbor.
The chart shows TD lines, apparently for LORAN-A, which would make it the Nantucket-Chatam-Montuck-Sandy Hook-Fenwick-Bodie Is-Cape Hatteras chain.
Note that the printed TD lines do not extend into inland waterway areas, as LORAN propagates poorly over land.
The green 1000 lines curve heavily in this area.
Note the "LORAN TR" mark at the tip of Sandy Hook near the focus of the curves.
This would be Station "J" (3H5).
The ochre 4000 lines (3H4) would correspond to the TD between the master and Station "H" at Cape Hatteras.
The master station of this chain was at Sankaty Head on Nantucket, Massachussets.
The sharp angle between these sets of TD rings, especially to the east and north, would make it a poor pair for precise navigation.
Note : old map (current map without Loran hyperboles with the GeoGarage platform)

From Reuters by Jonathan Saul

The risk of cyber attacks targeting ships' satellite navigation is pushing nations to delve back through history and develop back-up systems with roots in World War Two radio technology.

Ships use GPS (Global Positioning System) and other similar devices that rely on sending and receiving satellite signals, which many experts say are vulnerable to jamming by hackers.

About 90 percent of world trade is transported by sea and the stakes are high in increasingly crowded shipping lanes.
Unlike aircraft, ships lack a back-up navigation system and if their GPS ceases to function, they risk running aground or colliding with other vessel

South Korea is developing an alternative system using an earth-based navigation technology known as eLoran, while the United States is planning to follow suit.
Britain and Russia have also explored adopting versions of the technology, which works on radio signals.

The drive follows a series of disruptions to shipping navigation systems in recent months and years.
It was not clear if they involved deliberate attacks; navigation specialists say solar weather effects can also lead to satellite signal loss.

Last year, South Korea said hundreds of fishing vessels had returned early to port after their GPS signals were jammed by hackers from North Korea, which denied responsibility.

In June this year, a ship in the Black Sea reported to the U.S. Coast Guard Navigation Center that its GPS system had been disrupted and that over 20 ships in the same area had been similarly affected.
U.S. Coast Guard officials also said interference with ships' GPS disrupted operations at a port for several hours in 2014 and at another terminal in 2015. It did not name the ports.

A cyber attack that hit A.P. Moller-Maersk's IT systems in June 2017 and made global headlines did not involve navigation but underscored the threat hackers pose to the technology dependent and inter-connected shipping industry. It disrupted port operations across the world.

The eLoran push is being led by governments who see it as a means of protecting their national security.
Significant investments would be needed to build a network of transmitter stations to give signal coverage, or to upgrade existing ones dating back decades when radio navigation was standard.

U.S. engineer Brad Parkinson, known as the "father of GPS" and its chief developer, is among those who have supported the deployment of eLoran as a back-up.

"ELoran is only two-dimensional, regional, and not as accurate, but it offers a powerful signal at an entirely different frequency," Parkinson told Reuters.
"It is a deterrent to deliberate jamming or spoofing (giving wrong positions), since such hostile activities can be rendered ineffective," said Parkinson, a retired U.S. airforce colonel.

 This is the way we used to find our way around.

Korean stations

Cyber specialists say the problem with GPS and other Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) is their weak signals, which are transmitted from 12,500 miles above the Earth and can be disrupted with cheap jamming devices that are widely available.

Developers of eLoran - the descendant of the loran (long-range navigation) system created during World War II - say it is difficult to jam as the average signal is an estimated 1.3 million times stronger than a GPS signal.
To do so would require a powerful transmitter, large antenna and lots of power, which would be easy to detect, they add.

Shipping and security officials say the cyber threat has grown steadily over the past decade as vessels have switched increasingly to satellite systems and paper charts have largely disappeared due to a loss of traditional skills among seafarers.
"My own view, and it is only my view, is we are too dependent on GNSS/GPS position fixing systems," said Grant Laversuch, head of safety management at P&O Ferries.
"Good navigation is about cross-checking navigation systems, and what better way than having two independent electronic systems."

Lee Byeong-gon, an official at South Korea's Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, said the government was working on establishing three sites for eLoran test operations by 2019 with further ones to follow after that.
But he said South Korea was contending with concerns from local residents at Gangwha Island, off the west coast.
"The government needs to secure a 40,000 pyeong (132,200 square-meter) site for a transmitting station, but the residents on the island are strongly opposed to having the 122 to 137 meter-high antenna," Lee told Reuters.

In July, the United States House of Representatives passed a bill which included provisions for the U.S. Secretary of Transportation to establish an eLoran system.
"This bill will now go over to the Senate and we hope it will be written into law," said Dana Goward, president of the U.S. non-profit Resilient Navigation and Timing Foundation, which supports the deployment of eLoran.
"We don't see any problems with the President (Donald Trump) signing off on this provision."
The previous administrations of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama both pledged to establish eLoran but never followed through.
However, this time there is more momentum.
In May, U.S. Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats told a Senate committee the global threat of electronic warfare attacks against space systems would rise in coming years.
"Development will very likely focus on jamming capabilities against ... Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), such as the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS)," he said.

 Differential eLoran operation concept
(graphic courtesy Ursanav).

Spoofing dangers

Russia has looked to establish a version of eLoran called eChayka, aimed at the Arctic region as sea lanes open up there, but the project has stalled for now.
"It is obvious that we need such a system," said Vasily Redkozubov, deputy director general of Russia's Internavigation Research and Technical Centre.
"But there are other challenges apart from eChayka, and (Russia has) not so many financial opportunities at the moment."

Cost is a big issue for many countries.
Some European officials also say their own satellite system Galileo is more resistant to jamming than other receivers.
But many navigation technology experts say the system is hackable.
"Galileo can help, particularly with spoofing, but it is also a very weak signal at similar frequencies," said Parkinson.

 The red track is based on raw eLoran data without any corrections.
The transparent blue line is made by GPS-RTK and is widened to 10 meters giving the required ± 5 meter limits of eDLoran.
The white line is output from the eDLoran receiver which stays within the borders of the 10 meter wide transparent blue line.
source : GPSworld

The reluctance of many countries to commit to a back-up means there is little chance of unified radio coverage globally for many years at least, and instead disparate areas of cover including across some national territories and shared waterways.

The General Lighthouse Authorities of the UK and Ireland had conducted trials of eLoran but the initiative was pulled after failing to garner interest from European countries whose transmitters were needed to create a signal network.
France, Denmark, Norway and Germany have all decided to turn off or dismantle their old radio transmitter stations.
Britain is maintaining a single eLoran transmitter in northern England.

Taviga, a British-U.S. company, is looking to commercially operate an eLoran network, which would provide positioning, navigation and timing (PNT).
"There would need to be at least one other transmitter probably on the UK mainland for a timing service," said co-founder Charles Curry, adding that the firm would need the British government to commit to using the technology.

Andy Proctor, innovation lead for satellite navigation and PNT with Innovate UK, the government's innovation agency, said: "We would consider supporting a commercially run and operated service, which we may or may not buy into as a customer."
Current government policy was "not to run large operational pieces of infrastructure like an eLoran system", he added.

Links :

Monday, August 7, 2017

Planet has just 5 percent chance to reach Paris goal

Earth's horizon.
Credit: NASA Goddard/flickr

From The Guardian by Oliver Milman

There is only a 5% chance that the Earth will avoid warming by at least 2C come the end of the century, according to new research that paints a sobering picture of the international effort to stem dangerous climate change.

Global trends in the economy, emissions and population growth make it extremely unlikely that the planet will remain below the 2C threshold set out in the Paris climate agreement in 2015, the study states.

The Paris accord, signed by 195 countries, commits to holding the average global temperature to “well below 2C” above pre-industrial levels and sets a more aspirational goal to limit warming to 1.5C.
This latter target is barely plausible, the new research finds, with just a 1% chance that temperatures will rise by less than 1.5C.
“We’re closer to the margin than we think,” said Adrian Raftery, a University of Washington academic who led the research, published in Nature Climate Change.
“If we want to avoid 2C, we have very little time left. The public should be very concerned.”

Visualization based on GISTEMP data.
Credit Antti Lipponen
Governments settled on the 2C threshold partly through political expediency but also because scientists have warned of severe consequences from sea level rise, drought, heatwaves and social unrest should the temperature rise beyond this.

Such risks have been underscored by a separate study, also released on Monday, that shows unabated climate change will cause around 60,000 deaths globally in 2030 and 260,000 deaths by 2100.
The study, by the University of North Carolina, found that rising temperatures will exacerbate air pollutants that will particularly threaten those with existing conditions.

According to the University of Washington study, there is a 90% likelihood that temperatures will rise between 2C and 4.9C by 2100.
This would put the world in the mid-range warming scenarios mapped out by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
It negates the most optimistic outcome as well as the worst case, which would see temperatures climb nearly 6C beyond the pre-industrial era.

Exploring extreme sea level in 3D and the stakes for America
Step-by-step instructions on how to use Climate Central's NOAA extreme sea level rise layer within Google Earth Chrome.

Rather than look at how greenhouse gases will influence temperature, the new research analyzed the past 50 years of trends in world population, per capita gross domestic product (GDP) and carbon intensity, which is the amount of carbon dioxide emitted for each dollar of economic activity.

After building a statistical model covering a range of emissions scenarios, the researchers found that carbon intensity will be a crucial factor in future warming.
Technological advances are expected to cut global carbon intensity by 90% over the course of the century, with sharp declines in China and India – two newly voracious consumers of energy.
However, this decline still will not be steep enough to avoid breaching the 2C limit.

The world’s population is expected to grow to about 11 billion people by 2100, but the research found that this will have a relatively small impact upon temperatures as much of this growth will take place in sub-Saharan Africa, which is a minor contributor of greenhouse gas emissions.

It has long been acknowledged that emissions cuts promised under the the Paris agreement would not be sufficient to avoid 2C warming.
However, it is hoped that periodic reviews of commitments will result in more severe reductions.

Donald Trump’s pledge to remove the US, the world’s second-largest emitter, from the accord has cast a large shadow over these ambitions.

“Even if the 2C target isn’t met, action is very important,” said Raftery.
“The more the temperature increases, the worse the impacts will be.
“We would warn against any tendency to use our results to say that we won’t avoid 2C, and so it’s too late to do anything. On the contrary, avoiding the higher temperature increases that our model envisages is even more important, and also requires urgent action.”

Raftery acknowledged that a breakthrough technology could “dramatically” change the outlook but noted that major advances of the past 50 years, such as the computer, robotics, hybrid cars, the internet and electronic fuel injection, have improved carbon efficiency steadily at around 2% a year, rather than in huge jumps.

Andrew Dessler, a climate scientist at Texas A&M University who was not involved in the study, said the research’s conclusions were “reasonable” but said it was difficult to assign a precise probability to future temperature rises.
“I agree that staying below 2C and 1.5C are unlikely and very, very unlikely, respectively,” he said. “But this research gives a false sense of rigor. Tomorrow someone could invent a carbon-free energy source that everyone adopts.
“If you look at technology adoption and action taken on the ozone layer and acid rain, it’s clear these things can change faster than people predict.”

Dessler said the falling cost of renewable energy would be a major factor in reducing emissions but further impetus would be needed through new actions such as a price on carbon.
“It’s like you’re driving and about to collide with the car in front of you,” he said.
“You want to hit the brakes as fast as you can. The later you wait, the more painful it’s going to be.”

John Sterman, an academic at the MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative, said the research was an “urgent call to action”.
MIT research has shown that emissions cuts in the Paris agreement would stave off around 1C of temperature increase by 2100 – findings misrepresented by Trump when he announced the US departure from the pact.

Sterman said the US must “dramatically speed the deployment of renewable energy and especially energy efficiency.
Fortunately, renewables, storage and other technologies are already cheaper than fossil energy in many places and costs are falling fast.
“More aggressive policies are urgently needed, but this study should not be taken as evidence that nothing can be done.”

Links :

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Fractal : storm lapse

The ingredient based explanation for supercell thunderstorms cites moisture, wind shear, instability and lift as the reasons for their formation.
I prefer to focus on the big picture.
Supercell thunderstorms are a manifestation of nature's attempt to correct an extreme imbalance.
The ever ongoing effort to reach equilibrium, or entropy, is what drives all of our weather, and the force with which the atmosphere tries to correct this imbalance is proportional to the gradient.
In other words, the more extreme the imbalance, the more extreme the storm.

This collection of timelapses was gathered over the last six years from Texas to North Dakota and everywhere in between.
The project started out as wanting to be able to see the life-cycles of these storms, just for my own enjoyment and to increase my understanding of them.
Over time, it morphed into an obsession with wanting to document as many photogenic supercells as I could, in as high a resolution as possible, as to be able to share with those who couldn't see first-hand the majestic beauty that comes alive in the skies above America's Great Plains every Spring.
After more than 100,000 miles on the road and tens of thousands of shutter clicks later, this is the result.
I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed creating it.