Saturday, September 16, 2017

Get a closer look at the big solar flares that keep coming

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, which watches the sun constantly, captured images of the events. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation.
Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth's atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground, however — when intense enough — they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel.
To see how this event may affect Earth, please visit NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center at, the U.S. government's official source for space weather forecasts, alerts, watches and warnings.
X-class denotes the most intense flares, while the number provides more information about its strength. An X2 is twice as intense as an X1, an X3 is three times as intense, etc.
The X9.3 flare was the largest flare so far in the current solar cycle, the approximately 11-year-cycle during which the sun’s activity waxes and wanes.
The current solar cycle began in December 2008, and is now decreasing in intensity and heading toward solar minimum.
This is a phase when such eruptions on the sun are increasingly rare, but history has shown that they can nonetheless be intense.

From CNET by Erik Mack

The sun should be quiet right now.
Instead, it's been shooting hot particles and plasma into space for the past week, to the delight of scientists.

Hot on the heels of the epic American total solar eclipse in August, our sun this month has followed up with what you might call totally cray behavior.
The biggest star around is supposed to be entering a phase of relatively little activity right now.
Yet it has spent the past week shooting off some of the biggest solar flares we've seen in over a decade.

The sun goes through 11-year cycles of solar activity, including a solar maximum when scientists expect to see the highest level of sunspots and solar flares.
But we passed that point in the current cycle in 2014 and are now approaching the solar minimum.
So it's a little surprising that a big sunspot has been shooting off a bunch of flares, including the biggest of the current cycle, for the past week.
A huge, so-called X-class flare (the highest level of intensity) was fired off Wednesday.
It released an amount of energy comparable to that of a billion hydrogen bombs and sent radiation and plasma soaring toward Earth that's not harmful to life thanks to our planet's atmosphere and magnetic field.
The solar storm can disrupt communications signals, however, and also fuels some pretty remarkable auroras
One X9.3 flare Wednesday was the strongest flare seen in over 12 years.
NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, which watches the sun continuously, caught a few different views of last week's flares that can be seen in the above video.
Scientists using a solar telescope on the Canary Islands also managed to capture a close-up view.

It’s always shining, always ablaze with light and energy that drive weather, biology and more.
In addition to keeping life alive on Earth, the sun also sends out a constant flow of particles called the solar wind, and it occasionally erupts with giant clouds of solar material, called coronal mass ejections, or explosions of X-rays called solar flares.
These events can rattle our space environment out to the very edges of our solar system.
In space, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, keeps an eye on our nearest star 24/7.
SDO captures images of the sun in 10 different wavelengths, each of which helps highlight a different temperature of solar material.
In this video, we experience SDO images of the sun in unprecedented detail.
Presented in ultra-high definition, the video presents the dance of the ultra-hot material on our life-giving star in extraordinary detail, offering an intimate view of the grand forces of the solar system.

"The sun is currently in what we call solar minimum. The number of Active Regions, where flares occur, is low, so to have X-class flares so close together is very unusual," said Aaron Reid, a research fellow at Queen's University Belfast, in a news release.
"These observations can tell us how and why these flares formed so we can better predict them in the future."
A total of three X-class flares were observed over a 48-hour period, along with medium-intensity flares that went off earlier last week,  and another, just slightly less intense X-class flare on Sunday.
While the flare activity of the past week has been unusual and unexpected, it seems likely to come to an end soon.
The big sunspot responsible for the flares is about to disappear from view as part of the star's normal rotation.

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Friday, September 15, 2017

Self-driving boats: the next tech transportation race

 Sea Machines is pleased to announce the launch of the Sea Machines 300 autonomy system for commercial workboats.
It enables remote & autonomous command of a vessel, enabling enhancements in operability & safety.

From Phys by Matt O'Brien

The …more Self-driving cars may not hit the road in earnest for many years - but autonomous boats could be just around the pier.
Spurred in part by the car industry's race to build driverless vehicles, marine innovators are building automated ferry boats for Amsterdam canals, cargo ships that can steer themselves through Norwegian fjords and remote-controlled ships to carry containers across the Atlantic and Pacific.

The first such autonomous ships could be in operation within three years.
One experimental workboat spent this summer dodging tall ships and tankers in Boston Harbor, outfitted with sensors and self-navigating software and emblazoned with the words "Unmanned vessel" across its aluminum hull.
"We're in full autonomy now," said Jeff Gawrys, a marine technician for Boston startup Sea Machines Robotics, sitting at the helm as the boat floated through a harbor channel.
"Roger that," said computer scientist Mohamed Saad Ibn Seddik, as he helped to guide the ship from his laptop on a nearby dock.
The boat still needs human oversight.
But some of the world's biggest maritime firms have committed to designing ships that won't need any captains or crews—at least not on board.

In this Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017 photo, a boat capable of autonomous navigation makes its way around Boston Harbor.
The experimental workboat spent this summer dodging tall ships and tankers, outfitted with sensors and self-navigating software and emblazoned with the words "UNMANNED VESSEL" across its aluminum hull.
(AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Distracted seafarin

The ocean is "a wide open space," said Sea Machines CEO Michael Johnson.
Based out of an East Boston shipyard once used to build powerful wooden clippers, the cutting-edge sailing vessels of the 19th century, his company is hoping to spark a new era of commercial marine innovation that could surpass the development of self-driving cars and trucks.
The startup has signed a deal with an undisclosed company to install the "world's first autonomy system on a commercial containership," Johnson said this week.
It will be remotely-controlled from land as it travels the North Atlantic.
He also plans to sell the technology to companies doing oil spill cleanups and other difficult work on the water, aiming to assist maritime crews, not replace them.

Johnson, a marine engineer whose previous job took him to the Italian coast to help salvage the sunken cruise ship Costa Concordia, said that deadly 2012 capsizing and other marine disasters have convinced him that "we're relying too much on old-world technology."

In this Tuesday, Aug.15, 2017 photo, Jeff Gawrys, marine technician for Boston startup Sea Machines Robotics, prepares to disengage the navigation of a boat and switch the vessel over to fully autonomous control in Boston Harbor.
(AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Spurred on by the car industry's race to build driverless vehicles, maritime companies are taking advantage of technological breakthroughs and broader public acceptance of artificial intelligence to design tugboats, ferries and cargo vessels that won't need captains or crews, at least not on board.

In this Aug.15, 2017 photo, computer scientist Mohamed Saad Ibn Seddik, of Sea Machines Robotics, uses a laptop to guide a boat outfitted with sensors and self-navigating software and capable of autonomous navigation in Boston Harbor.

Global race

Militaries have been working on unmanned vessels for decades.
But a lot of commercial experimentation is happening in the centuries-old seaports of Scandinavia, where Rolls-Royce demonstrated a remote-controlled tugboat in Copenhagen this year.
Government-sanctioned testing areas have been established in Norway's Trondheim Fjord and along Finland's western coast.
In Norway, fertilizer company Yara International is working with engineering firm Kongsberg Maritime on a project to replace big-rig trucks with an electric-powered ship connecting three nearby ports.
The pilot ship is scheduled to launch next year, shift to remote control in 2019 and go fully autonomous by 2020.
"It would remove a lot of trucks from the roads in these small communities," said Kongsberg CEO Geir Haoy.

Frank Marino with Sea Machines Robotics uses a remote control belt pack to operate a boat in Boston Harbor.
Spurred on by the car industry's race to build driverless vehicles, maritime companies are taking advantage of technological breakthroughs and broader public acceptance of artificial intelligence to design tugboats, ferries and cargo vessels that won't need captains or crews, at least not on board. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Spurred on by the car industry's race to build driverless vehicles, maritime …more Japanese shipping firm Nippon Yusen K.K.—operator of the cargo ship that slammed into a U.S.
Navy destroyer in a deadly June collision—plans to test its first remote-controlled vessel in 2019, part of a wider Japanese effort to deploy hundreds of autonomous container ships by 2025.
A Chinese alliance has set a goal of launching its first self-navigating cargo ship in 2021.

Cars Vs Boats

The key principles of self-driving cars and boats are similar.
Both scan their surroundings using a variety of sensors, feed the information into an artificial intelligence system and output driving instructions to the vehicle.
But boat navigation could be much easier than car navigation, said Carlo Ratti, an MIT professor working with Dutch universities to launch self-navigating vessels in Amsterdam next year.
The city's canals, for instance, have no pedestrians or bikers cluttering the way, and are subject to strict speed limits.
Ratti's project is also looking at ways small vessels could coordinate with each other in "swarms." They could, for instance, start as a fleet of passenger or delivery boats, then transform into an on-demand floating bridge to accommodate a surge of pedestrians.
Spurred on by the car industry's race to build driverless vehicles, maritime companies are …more Since many boats already have electronic controls, "it would be easy to make them self-navigating by simply adding a small suite of sensors and AI," Ratti said.

Armchair captains

Researchers have already begun to design merchant ships that will be made more efficient because they don't need room for seamen to sleep and eat.
But in the near future, most of these ships will be only partly autonomous.
Armchair captains in a remote operation center could be monitoring several ships at a time, sitting in a room with 360-degree virtual reality views.
When the vessels are on the open seas, they might not need humans to make decisions.
It's just the latest step in what has been a gradual automation of maritime tasks.
"If you go back 150 years, you had more than 200 people on a cargo vessel.
Now you have between 10 and 20," said Oskar Levander, vice president of innovation for Rolls-Royce's marine business.

 Rolls-Royce hopes its self-piloting ship concept will be the naval vessel of the future

Changing rules at sea

There are still some major challenges ahead.
Uncrewed vessels might be more vulnerable to piracy or even outright theft via remote hacking of a ship's control systems.
Some autonomous vessels might win public trust faster than others; unmanned container ships filled with bananas might not raise the same concerns as oil tankers plying the waters near big cities or protected wilderness.
A decades-old international maritime safety treaty also requires that "all ships shall be sufficiently and efficiently manned."
But The International Maritime Organization, which regulates shipping, has begun a 2-year review of the safety, security and environmental implications of autonomous ships.

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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Offshore wind power cheaper than new nuclear

The cost of subsidies to the UK’s offshore wind farms in contracts awarded in auctions dropped more than 50 per cent and is now well below the price the government has guaranteed for energy from the planned Hinkley Point nuclear power plant
From BBC by Roger Harrabin

Energy from offshore wind in the UK will be cheaper than electricity from new nuclear power for the first time.

The cost of subsidies for new offshore wind farms has halved since the last 2015 auction for clean energy projects
Two firms said they were willing to build offshore wind farms for a guaranteed price of £57.50 per megawatt hour for 2022-23.
This compares with the new Hinkley Point C nuclear plant securing subsidies of £92.50 per megawatt hour.
Nuclear firms said the UK still needed a mix of low-carbon energy, especially for when wind power was not available.

 Wind farms offshore UK with the GeoGarage ENC platform (UKHO data)

'Truly astonishing'

The figures for offshore wind, from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, were revealed as the result of an auction for subsidies, in which the lowest bidder wins.
In the auction in 2015, offshore wind farm projects won subsidies between £114 and £120 per megawatt hour.

Emma Pinchbeck, from the wind energy trade body Renewable UK, told the BBC the latest figures were "truly astonishing".
"We still think nuclear can be part of the mix - but our industry has shown how to drive costs down, and now they need to do the same."

Bigger turbines, higher voltage cables and lower cost foundations, as well as growth in the UK supply chain and the downturn in the oil and gas industry have all contributed to falling prices.
The newest 8 megawatt offshore turbines stand almost 200 metres high, taller than London's Gherkin building.
But Ms Pinchbeck said the turbines would double in size in the 2020s.

 from NewScientist (July 2016)

Nuclear 'still needed'

However, the nuclear industry said that because wind power is intermittent, nuclear energy would still be needed.
Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, said: "It doesn't matter how low the price of offshore wind is. On last year's figures it only produced electricity for 36% of the time."

EDF, which is building the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant, said the UK still needed a "diverse, well-balanced" mix of low-carbon energy.
"New nuclear remains competitive for consumers who face extra costs in providing back-up power when the wind doesn't blow or the sun doesn't shine," the French firm said.
"There are also costs of dealing with excess electricity when there is too much wind or sun."
EDF added that energy from new nuclear plants would become cheaper as the market matures, as has happened with offshore wind.

Eyes will be raised at this suggestion, as nuclear power has already received subsidies since the 1950s.
But storage of surplus energy from offshore wind is still a challenge.

World's first floating offshore wind farm in Scotland :
Each wind turbine is taller than Big Ben and the farm can power 20,000 homes.

'Energy revolution'

Onshore wind power and solar energy are already both cost-competitive with gas in some places in the UK.
And the price of energy subsidies for offshore wind has now halved in less than three years.

Energy analysts said UK government policy helped to lower the costs by nurturing the fledgling industry, then incentivising it to expand - and then demanding firms should bid in auction for their subsidies.

Minister for Energy and Industry Richard Harrington said: "We've placed clean growth at the heart of the Industrial Strategy to unlock opportunities across the country, while cutting carbon emissions.
"The offshore wind sector alone will invest £17.5bn in the UK up to 2021 and thousands of new jobs in British businesses will be created by the projects announced today."

Michael Grubb, professor of energy policy at University College London, called the cost reduction "a huge step forward in the energy revolution".
"It shows that Britain's biggest renewable resource - and least politically problematic - is available at reasonable cost.
"It'll be like the North Sea oil and gas industry: it started off expensive, then as the industry expanded, costs fell. We can expect offshore wind costs to fall more, too," he said.

The subsidies, paid from a levy on consumer bills, will run for 15 years - unlike nuclear subsidies for Hinkley C which run for 35 years.
This adds to the cost advantage offshore wind has now established over new nuclear.

 Wind farms offshore UK with the GeoGarage ENC platform (UKHO data)

Prof Grubb estimated the new offshore wind farms would supply about 2% of UK electricity demand, with a net cost to consumers of under £5 per year.

Caroline Lucas, co-leader of the Green Party, said: "This massive price drop for offshore wind is a huge boost for the renewables industry and should be the nail in the coffin for new nuclear.
"The government's undying commitment to new nuclear risks locking us into sky high prices for years to come. Put simply, this news should be the death knell for Hinkley C nuclear station."

Along with three offshore wind farm projects, biomass and energy from waste plants have secured subsidies for low-carbon energy, with a total of 11 successful schemes in the latest auction.

The £57.50 for new offshore wind power is not a true subsidy.
It is a "strike price" - a guaranteed price to the generating firm for power it supplies.

When the wholesale market price for electricity is below that price, payments to the firm are made up with a levy on consumers.
However, when the wholesale price is above the strike price, the generator pays the difference back. It is a way of providing a certain return on investment for large energy projects.
It is impossible to predict what the final additional cost to consumers will be because it depends on market conditions, but it will almost certainly be a fraction of the strike price itself.
Experts warn that in order to meet the UK's long term climate goals, additional sources of low-carbon energy will still be needed.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

One of world's largest marine parks created off coast of Easter Island

Map of the planned marine park (source The Guardian)

From The Guardian by Arthur Neslen

Rapa Nui protection area, about same size as Chilean mainland, will protect up to 142 species, including 27 threatened with extinction

One of the world’s largest marine protection areas has been created off the coast of Easter Island.

 Rapa Nui with the GeoGarage platform (NGA chart)

The 740,000 sq km Rapa Nui marine park is roughly the size of the Chilean mainland and will protect at least 142 endemic marine species, including 27 threatened with extinction.

An astonishing 77% of the Pacific Ocean’s fish abundance occurs here and recent expeditions discovered several new species previously unknown to science.

Apex predators found in the conservation zone include scalloped hammerhead sharks, minke, humpback and blue whales, and four species of sea turtle.

Easter Island’s waters are teeming with sea life, including 142 species found nowhere else on the planet and 10 endangered species.
See the animals and other underwater wonders that make this area so unique.

Matt Rand, the director of the Pew Bertarelli ocean legacy project, which campaigned for the park, said: “This marine reserve will have a huge global significance for the conservation of oceans and of indigenous people’s ways of life.
“The Rapa Nui have long suffered from the loss of timber, declining ecosystems and declining populations. Now they are experiencing a resurgence based on ensuring the health of the oceans.”

Plans for the marine park were first announced at a conference in 2015, at which the former US president Barack Obama declared his “special love for the ocean” in a video message.
The plans were confirmed in a speech by Chilean president Michelle Bachelet on Saturday.

The marine park’s creation was enabled by a 73% vote in favour of the conservation zone from Easter Island’s 3,000 Rapa Nui population in a referendum on 3 September, after five years of consultations.

Extractive industries and industrial fishing will be banned inside the reserve, but the Rapa Nui will be allowed to continue their traditional artisanal fishing on small boats, using hand lines with rocks for weights.

The indigenous people of Easter Island, the Rapa Nui, are connected to the ocean.
Women and men fish for their families, and gather shells to craft traditional jewelry and artwork.
But what happens when fish stocks decline and plastic from other countries washes up on the Easter Island coast?
The Rapa Nui formed Te Mau O Te Vaikava O Rapa Nui -the Mesa del Mar- an effort made up of prominent fishing, tourism, environmental, and cultural leaders, to determine the best ways to protect their ocean waters for future generations.

Ludovic Burns Tuki, the director of the Mesa del mar coalition of more than 20 Rapa Nui groups, said: “This is a historic moment – a great and beautiful moment for the Rapa Nui, for the world and for our oceans.
“We think this process can be an example for the creation of other marine reserves that we need to protect our oceans – with a respect for the human dimension.”

After the creation of a comparable marine protection area around the nearby Pitcairn Islands last year, proposals for a reserve in the Austral Islands’ waters could soon create a protected area of more than 2m sq km
 This would have a unifying potential for the Polynesian people, according to Burns Tuki.
“The ocean is very important to us as a source of food, but the Polynesians were great navigators and the ocean also represents our mother,” he said.
“It enables us to move with a double canoe between the different islands. It gives us everything.”

As global warming takes hold, some scientific papers suggest that marine reserves may also help mitigate climate change and provide a vital carbon sink.
The deep, clear and cool waters around Easter Island are also a resilient area for coral reefs.

Marcelo Mena, Chile’s environment minister, said: “This marine protected area adds to the legacy of President Bachelet and the 1.5m sq km of protected areas created by this government.”

The International Union for Conservation of Nature has called for 30% of the world’s oceans to be protected, but only about 1.6% has so far been covered by marine protection areas.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Ship exhaust makes oceanic thunderstorms more intense

Lightning behind an aircraft carrier in the Strait of Malacca.
New research finds lightning strokes occurred nearly twice as often directly above heavily-trafficked shipping lanes in the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea year-round from 2005 through 2016. Credit: public domain.

From Phys 

Thunderstorms directly above two of the world's busiest shipping lanes are significantly more powerful than storms in areas of the ocean where ships don't travel, according to new research.

A new study mapping lightning around the globe finds lightning strokes occur nearly twice as often directly above heavily-trafficked shipping lanes in the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea than they do in areas of the ocean adjacent to shipping lanes that have similar climates.

The difference in lightning activity can't be explained by changes in the weather, according to the study's authors, who conclude that aerosol particles emitted in ship exhaust are changing how storm clouds form over the ocean.

The new study is the first to show ship exhaust can alter thunderstorm intensity.
The researchers conclude that particles from ship exhaust make cloud droplets smaller, lifting them higher in the atmosphere.
This creates more ice particles and leads to more lightning.

credit : NASA

The results provide some of the first evidence that humans are changing cloud formation on a nearly continual basis, rather than after a specific incident like a wildfire, according to the authors.
Cloud formation can affect rainfall patterns and alter climate by changing how much sunlight clouds reflect to space.
"It's one of the clearest examples of how humans are actually changing the intensity of storm processes on Earth through the emission of particulates from combustion," said Joel Thornton, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Washington in Seattle and lead author of the new study in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.

"It is the first time we have, literally, a smoking gun, showing over pristine ocean areas that the lightning amount is more than doubling," said Daniel Rosenfeld, an atmospheric scientist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem who was not connected to the study.
"The study shows, highly unambiguously, the relationship between anthropogenic emissions - in this case, from diesel engines - on deep convective clouds."

A map of ships crossing the Indian Ocean and surrounding seas during June 2012.
Most ships crossing the northern Indian Ocean follow a narrow, nearly straight track around 6 degrees North between Sri Lanka and the island of Sumatra.
East of Sumatra, ships travel southeast through the Strait of Malacca, rounding Singapore and extending northeast across the South China Sea.
Aerosol particle emissions in these shipping lanes are ten times or more greater than in other shipping lanes in the region, and are among the largest globally.
Credit:, an interactive map of commercial shipping movements, created by Kiln for University College London's Energy Institute.

All combustion engines emit exhaust, which contains microscopic particles of soot and compounds of nitrogen and sulfur.
These particles, known as aerosols, form the smog and haze typical of large cities.
They also act as cloud condensation nuclei - the seeds on which clouds form.
Water vapor condenses around aerosols in the atmosphere, creating droplets that make up clouds.

Cargo ships crossing oceans emit exhaust continuously and scientists can use ship exhaust to better understand how aerosols affect cloud formation.

In the new study, co-author Katrina Virts, an atmospheric scientist at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, was analyzing data from the World Wide Lightning Location Network, a network of sensors that locates lightning strokes all over the globe, when she noticed a nearly straight line of lightning strokes across the Indian Ocean.

Virts and her colleagues compared the lightning location data to maps of ships' exhaust plumes from a global database of ship emissions.
Looking at the locations of 1.5 billion lightning strokes from 2005 to 2016, the team found nearly twice as many lightning strokes on average over major routes ships take across the northern Indian Ocean, through the Strait of Malacca and into the South China Sea, compared to adjacent areas of the ocean that have similar climates.

More than $5 trillion of world trade passes through the South China Sea every year and nearly 100,000 ships pass through the Strait of Malacca alone.
Lightning is a measure of storm intensity, and the researchers detected the uptick in lightning at least as far back as 2005.

"All we had to do was make a map of where the lightning was enhanced and a map of where the ships are travelling and it was pretty obvious just from the co-location of both of those that the ships were somehow involved in enhancing lightning," Thornton said.

The top map shows annual average lightning density at a resolution of about 10 kilometers (6 miles), as recorded by the WWLLN, from 2005 to 2016.
The bottom map shows aerosol emissions from ships crossing routes in the Indian Ocean and South China sea from 2010.
Credit: Thornton et al/Geophysical Research Letters/AGU.

Forming cloud seeds

Water molecules need aerosols to condense into clouds.
Where the atmosphere has few aerosol particles - over the ocean, for instance - water molecules have fewer particles to condense around, so cloud droplets are large.

When more aerosols are added to the air, like from ship exhaust, water molecules have more particles to collect around.
More cloud droplets form, but they are smaller.
Being lighter, these smaller droplets travel higher into the atmosphere and more of them reach the freezing line, creating more ice, which creates more lightning.
Storm clouds become electrified when ice particles collide with each other and with unfrozen droplets in the cloud.
Lightning is the atmosphere's way of neutralizing that built-up electric charge.

Ships burn dirtier fuels in the open ocean away from port, spewing more aerosols and creating even more lightning, Thornton said.

"I think it's a really exciting study because it's the most solid evidence I've seen that aerosol emissions can affect deep convective clouds and intensify them and increase their electrification," said Steven Sherwood, an atmospheric scientist at the University of New South Wales in Sydney who was not connected to the study.
"We're emitting a lot of stuff into the atmosphere, including a lot of air pollution, particulate matter, and we don't know what it's doing to clouds," Sherwood said.
"That's been a huge uncertainty for a long time. This study doesn't resolve that, but it gives us a foot in the door to be able to test our understanding in a way that will move us a step closer to resolving some of those bigger questions about what some of the general impacts are of our emissions on clouds."

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Monday, September 11, 2017

Norway to spend $315M on world's first ship tunnel

The Norwegian Public Roads Administration believes floating underwater tunnels could be the key to shorter driving times in the country.
Norway is home to more than 1,100 fjords, the deep glacial water inlets that divide land masses. Getting over one means taking a ferry, and that can add hours to a car trip.
Because fjords can be up to a mile deep, building a bridge over the waterway or tunnel underneath is not very practical.
But Norwegian engineers think they can build a quicker way.
They want to float concrete tunnels up to 100 feet below the ocean’s surface.
This would allow ships to sail unobstructed by bridges.
Floating pontoons would hold the concrete tunnels in place.
Engineers hope the ambitious $25 billion project will be completed by 2035.

From CNN by Juliet Perry

Norway has unveiled plans to build the world's first ship tunnel by smashing through a solid rock peninsula.

The mile-long, 118-feet-wide tunnel will pass through the narrowest part of the Stad peninsula in western Norway, allowing freight and passenger ships to bypass the stormy, exposed Stadhavet Sea and avoid a highly treacherous part of the Scandinavian nation's coastline.
Norway has unveiled plans to build the world's first ship tunnel by smashing through a solid rock peninsula.

The mile-long, 118-feet-wide tunnel will pass through the narrowest part of the Stad peninsula in western Norway, allowing freight and passenger ships to bypass the stormy, exposed Stadhavet Sea and avoid a highly treacherous part of the Scandinavian nation's coastline.

The 118 feet wide, mile-long tunnel will carve through the Stad peninsula in western Norway
views from the GeoGarage platform (NHS charts)

"The KrÄkenes lighthouse, just south of Stad, is the meteorological weather station with the most stormy days, which can be anything from 45 to 106 days per year," says the Norwegian Coastal Administration, which announced the project.

The very high waves coming from different directions create complex and perilous sailing conditions, even after the wind has died down.
"The combination of wind, currents and waves around this part of the coastline make this section a particularly demanding part of the Norwegian coast," the administration says.
It says it hopes the tunnel will improve safety and stop ships from having to wait for bad weather to pass.

Moldefjorden in Norway, where the southern tunnel entrance is planned.

The team anticipates it will take three to four years to build the tunnel and cost an estimated $315 million.
To create it engineers will have to blast out a huge eight million tons of rock.
Passages and canals for boats have been built elsewhere in the world, but this will be the first tunnel allowing cruise and freight ships that weigh up to 16,000 tons to pass through solid rock.

The team anticipates that up to five ships will be able to pass through the tunnel every hour.
If you're wondering what might happen if two ships come nose-to-nose, it's unlikely, because there will be traffic lights.
"We are going to follow the usual standard with red and white lights to show when it is safe to pass," the team says.
The tunnel is due to open in 2023.

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Norway NHS, a new layer in the GeoGarage platform

A new layer in the GeoGarage platform
© Kartverket / © Norwegian Mapping Authority 
see GeoGarage news

 Norwegian waters (Exclusive Economic Zone)
EEZs extend 200 kms from shore (unless it clashes with another EEZ).
Norway has the Svalbard Archipelago and Jan Mayen in the Arctic and Bouvet Island in the Arctic.
All their claims on them are due to their remote nature meaning that all it took was a few decades of Norwegian whalers spending time on those islands for much of the world too think: 'they can have those remote islands'.
As this map shows, that ownership does come with its perks. 

Sunday, September 10, 2017

New Zealand Linz update in the GeoGarage platform

10 nautical raster charts updated
see GeoGarage news

Water II

Water II from Morgan Maassen
An ode to the sea, which i revere most… Morgan Maassen
Water II is another fine example of his capacity to find a unique perspective of life at sea. 
Filmed in Hawaii, Tahiti, Maldives, Barbados, Indonesia, Mexico and California.

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