Saturday, November 2, 2019

The Arctic summer : Greenland

A summer photo workshop in Greenland by Daniel Kordan
Guided by Edwin Martinez and Raymond Hoffman.

Friday, November 1, 2019

The Mermaid & the Gardener

Check out to adopt a coral.
featuring Chelsea Yamase & Titouan Bernicot

Thursday, October 31, 2019

The 25-year-old trying to rid the world's oceans of plastic just created a floating garbage truck that collects trash from rivers

The Ocean Cleanup develops technology to rid the world's oceans of plastic.
To do so, we need to not only clean up the plastic that is currently there, but also stop new plastic from entering the ocean via rivers.
In order to clean the world's 1000 most polluting rivers, we build the Interceptor™.
And here's how it works.

From The Business Insider by Aria Bendix

At age 19, entrepreneur Boyan Slat founded The Ocean Cleanup, a nonprofit that aims to rid the oceans of harmful plastic.
The organization created a device that's capturing plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a trash-filled vortex in the Pacific Ocean.

The Ocean Cleanup nonprofit aims to deploy "The Interceptor" in 1,000 rivers responsible for 80% of plastic entering oceans.
It should use natural currents to collect plastic, while allowing animals and ships to pass.
But that device doesn't stop plastic from entering the ocean in the first place.
So The Ocean Cleanup designed a new vessel that collects plastic from rivers, then deposits the waste into floating dumpsters.
The organization hopes to clean 1,000 rivers that contribute to around 80% of the ocean's plastic before the end of 2025.

Around 8.8 million tons of plastic enter the world's oceans each year — the equivalent of a truckload of garbage every minute.
Over time, this trash can accumulate in offshore garbage patches and linger there for decades.

Interceptor in Jakarta

The largest of these vortexes, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, is located in Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and California.
It's estimated to contain more than 1.8 trillion pieces of floating plastic — the equivalent of 250 pieces of debris for every person on Earth.

For the last six years, a nonprofit called The Ocean Cleanup has been developing a system to passively collect plastic from the garbage patch using the ocean's current.
The product of those efforts — a floating, U-shaped device that traps plastic in its fold like a giant arm — has finally been working as planned for the last month.

But even that success doesn't stop any new plastic from entering the ocean.

To address that problem, The Ocean Cleanup recently designed a new device called "The Interceptor." It's essentially a catamaran that glides across the surface of rivers, channeling plastic toward a conveyor belt.
The trash then gets deposited into attached dumpsters.

Since most marine plastic comes from rivers, the vessel could help address the waste problem before it reaches an ocean garbage patch.

The second prototype of the Interceptor in Malaysia.

The organization's 25-year-old founder, Boyan Slat, unveiled the new device at an event in the Netherlands on October 26.

Plastic in rivers enters a conveyor belt then gets deposited into floating dumpsters

The Ocean Cleanup estimates that 1,000 rivers — around 1% of the global total — carry roughly 80% of the plastic that winds up in the ocean out to sea.
The rivers responsible for the most marine pollution, they found, are small waterways in urban areas.

So the organization created the Interceptor to collect plastic from these rivers.

The vessel moves with the water's current, so it doesn't need to be towed.
Plastic on the water's surface gets pushed by the current toward a conveyor belt, then funneled into six dumpsters on a separate barge that floats underneath the vessel.

When the dumpsters get full, the system sends a message to operators on land.
The operators can then dispatch a boat to tow the barge (and the plastic waste) to shore.
The Ocean Cleanup estimates that one Interceptor can remove around 110 tons of plastic per day.

The device's lights, sensors, and conveyor belt are 100% solar-powered.

An aerial view of the Interceptor shows the floating barge with six dumpsters.

The Interceptor is designed to operate in almost any river, but it can be tailored to suit different types of conditions.
For example, some rivers have a concentrated path of debris, so the conveyor belt can simply take in the trash that flows toward the vessel; in other cases, a guardrail can channel plastic toward the vessel's mouth.

Image: courtesy The Ocean Cleanup

Two vessels are already operating in Malaysia and Indonesia

The Ocean Cleanup has so far built four prototypes of the Interceptor and deployed two of them.

The first prototype was dispatched in the Cengkareng Drain, a river that runs through Jakarta, Indonesia.
It includes a guardrail to funnel plastic toward the conveyor belt.
Instead of depositing trash into dumpsters, the belt dumps waste into giant garbage bags that are then towed to shore.

The second prototype was dispatched in the Klang River in Malaysia.
The waterway abuts Port Klang — a well known dumping ground for plastic waste.
On that vessel, the conveyor belts sends plastic directly into dumpsters on the floating barge.

The organization plans to deploy one of the remaining prototypes in Vietnam's Mekong Delta, and the other in a river in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic.

By the end of 2025, The Ocean Cleanup hopes to deploy their vessel in the 1,000 rivers worldwide that send the most plastic pollution into the ocean.

Links :

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

The Tulagi turning point

Tulagi Island under U.S. control, circa 1943 (USN)

From The Strategist by Alan Tidwell

The New York Times reported on 16 October that the People’s Republic of China had leased the island of Tulagi from Solomon Islands.
A secret deal was apparently struck in September, no doubt around the time Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare ascended to his leadership role and Solomon Islands announced its switch from recognising Taipei to Beijing.

 1943 U.S. Marines map of Halavo - Tulagi Landing, Florida Island, Solomon Islands.

Tulagi is remembered mostly as the place where the pivotal Allied campaign for Guadalcanal started in World War II.
With the leasing of the island, we may well have a shift in the strategic competition in the Pacific.

 Tulagi island with the GeoGarage platform (AHS nautical raster chart)

 zoom on Tulagi island with the GeoGarage platform (NGA nautical raster chart)

Long-term access to Tulagi will provide Beijing with a base for commercial or military activity.
For example, it may make managing regional Chinese fishing fleets easier.
Fishing, however, is the least of the worries for the West.
How long will it be before Tulagi begins to take on features like those found on the faux-island bases in the South China Sea?
Will China build an airfield on Tulagi?
China’s J-10 fighter aircraft could use Tulagi, as they’ve done in the Paracel Islands, which arguably brings the coast of Queensland into range. (It’s worth noting, though, that while a J-10 could reach the Queensland coast, it wouldn’t have any time on target without refuelling.)

Tulagi also extends Beijing’s political influence.
Cementing Chinese operations there could give China far greater reach in Solomon Islands and the Southwest Pacific.
If Beijing manages the leasing agreement well, it will serve as a proof of concept for other Pacific island countries.
Leasing an island may become financially very attractive to Pacific island elites.
If that’s the case, then Tulagi is the thin end of the wedge.
How long will be it before Chuuk in the Federated States of Micronesia votes for independence and pursues a similar leasing arrangement?

The Chinese interest in Solomon Islands has been noteworthy in recent months.
Beijing appears to have promised $500 million in aid to Solomon Islands.
In addition, the Taiwan News reported on September 20 that the China Railway Group had agreed to build and lease a railway system to service the Gold Ridge Mine on Guadalcanal through an $825 million loan.
The mine had been closed due to a damaged tailings dam, but appears to slated for reopening.
Lyle Goldstein of the China Maritime Studies Institute at the United States Naval War College has discussed China’s military interest in Solomon Islands.
He writes in The National Interest that the People’s Liberation Army Navy magazine, Navy Today, carried a detailed analysis of the Guadalcanal campaign in its December 2017 issue.
It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Beijing is well aware of the strategic importance of the Solomons.

As an indication of how Beijing sees its efforts in the Pacific, Xinhua, the official news agency of the Chinese Communist Party, published an editorial titled "The future is bright for China, Pacific island countries."
The author proclaimed, "China’s relations with the Pacific island countries, based on mutual benefit and a balance of righteousness and interests, are at their best time in history."
The establishment of diplomatic relations between Beijing and Honiara has been singled out as part of China’s self-declared success in the Pacific.
Leasing Tulagi is also part of the historical high point proclaimed by Beijing.

A senior State Department official told me that the US would rely on domestic opinion in the Solomons to push back against the Chinese.
In a Western democracy, that might seem a plausible wish, but in Solomon Islands things are bit messier.
Island, ethnic and wantok relationships will play out in the Tulagi story in ways that Washington may not adequately understand or appreciate.
Political leaders in Honiara and Beijing might want one thing, but others in Solomon Islands may have another idea.

On October 24, the New York Times reported that the Solomon Islands attorney-general indicated that the Tulagi leasing agreement had problems, which presumably can be fixed.
These technical challenges by no means preclude an agreement.
Assuming the deal goes ahead, it’s unclear what chiefs in the Central Province of Solomon Islands will do.
With enough financial incentive, they may acquiesce; on the other hand, they could opt for independence.
The Bougainville referendum on independence could serve as an additional trigger.
Or, they may simply opt for civil action. Would the West support independence?

Given Australia’s huge investment in RAMSI, it’s hard to believe that Canberra would be happy.
Local protests against Chinese island leasing are one thing, but how far will the West go in supporting and equipping those protests?
Will it provide financial assistance or training in community organising and protest?
What if tensions between pro-Chinese and anti-Chinese groups in Solomon Islands escalate?
Again, how far will the West go?
In the unlikely event of armed opposition, will it provide military training and arms?

The leasing of Tulagi should serve as a wake-up call for the ANZUS+J countries (Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Japan).
China has several strengths that are difficult to counter.
Those strengths start with the fact that China is a single actor, whereas ANZUS+J is a coalition and therefore far less efficient.
China uses economic engagement in a way that’s very attractive to Pacific island elites, whereas the West’s economic muscle is far more diffuse and slower to materialise in the islands.
China’s use of a diaspora is a policy tool unavailable to ANZUS+J.
Policies in place today may be too meek to adequately counter Chinese efforts.

There are things the Western states can do.
First, diplomats should be better trained in understanding the Pacific islands.
Building institutional capacity is an absolute necessity.
Australia is well positioned to help with capacity building for ANZUS+J diplomats.

A second step would be to rethink the ways in which states engage with the islands.
Development agencies are central to this engagement, but the development perspective alone falls short in addressing the strategic importance of the islands.
ANZUS+J countries should maintain their expanded development spending, while at the same time thinking more broadly about how they work in the region.
The essential criterion for assessing ANZUS+J work in the Pacific should be effectiveness, not dollars spent.

Tulagi was the capital of the British Solomon Islands Protectorate between 1897 and 1942.
The British withdrawal from the island during the Pacific War, its capture by the Japanese and the American reconquest left the island’s facilities damaged beyond repair.
After the war, Britain moved the capital to the American military base on Guadalcanal, which became Honiara.
The Tulagi settlement was an enclave of several small islands, the permanent population of which was never more than 600: 300 foreigners—one-third of European origin and most of the remainder Chinese—and an equivalent number of Solomon Islanders.
Thousands of Solomon Islander males also passed through on their way to work on plantations and as boat crews, hospital patients and prisoners.
The history of the Tulagi enclave provides an understanding of the origins of modern Solomon Islands.
Tulagi was also a significant outpost of the British Empire in the Pacific, which enables a close analysis of race, sex and class and the process of British colonisation and government in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

A third requirement is to profoundly deepen people-to-people engagement in the Pacific.
The utility of bringing people from the Pacific along with those from ANZUS+J countries cannot be overstated.
Having contacts and relationships on the ground throughout the islands plays a vital role in understanding events.
Track two diplomatic efforts can also help build deeper connections.
In addition, the West should engage with churches through the lens of both people-to-people engagement and institution building.
Greater understanding between peoples should be viewed as the West’s competitive advantage, one unlikely to be matched by the CCP.

A final area for improvement has to do with consultation and coordination.
Japan has now deployed a diplomat to Washington who is responsible for managing Pacific island issues.
To be effective, however, Japan needs to embrace the strategic importance of the islands with greater seriousness.
Australia has had a diplomat in Washington with responsibility for the islands for some time now.
He has been a strong and constructive voice.
These developments are good, but they need to be expanded to be effective.

The campaign that began at Tulagi has long been regarded as the turning point for the Allies in the Pacific during World War II.
The island is again a turning point, but maybe not in ways we would welcome.

Links :

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Could cities profit from protecting themselves against rising seas?

The original plans for Lynetteholm’s position in Copenhagen harbour.
A bigger island, further from the Trekroner Fort was announced in August 2019.
Illustration: Danish Ministry of Transport and Housing
 DGA nautical raster chart in the GeoGarage platform

From The Guardian by Richard Orange

Some coastal cities are reclaiming land as a barrier against rising water – then selling it off.
But critics argue that climate change defence should not be a business model

“The island is going to be placed where the British empire’s fleet once was,” says Anne Skovbro, looking out from her office in a 19th-century customs house over Copenhagen’s harbour.

She points out the mooring posts where tall ships once docked, the old masting crane that marked the harbour’s outer edge, and the patch of sea where Horatio Nelson is supposed to have held a telescope to his blind eye as his ships set the city’s medieval centre ablaze.

“From defending ourselves from the British, we now have to defend ourselves from the water,” says Skovbro, clearly relishing her role as urban planner leading the development of Copenhagen’s harbour.

The planned island to which she is referring, Lynetteholm, is perhaps the most developed expression of an idea that is spreading across the world: protecting cities from rising seas by reclaiming land – and paying for it by selling the new land off.

The island, more accurately described as a peninsula, will stretch across the mouth of Copenhagen’s harbour entrance, leaving only a channel for ferries and cruise ships that could be closed off in cases of storm surges.

The reason the idea works (and the reason it can’t be repeated in many other cities) is that the harbour is formed by a narrowish channel between the island of Amager and the mainland.
There is already flood protection along the inner coast of Amager, and the southern entry to the harbour is narrow and easy to close off.
The Öresund Strait also has a very small tidal range.

The island and sluice should therefore protect against storm surges for decades.
Once the sea level rises to the height of the waterfront in the inner harbour, the sluice would need to be replaced by a lock system.

As well as hopefully obviating the need for grim concrete sea walls like those erected around New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, new islands like these mean new real estate.
In Copenhagen the rim of the island facing out to sea will have a soft edge for beaches, parks and wetlands; then, beyond a high protective mound, there will be space for 35,000 houses and a similar number of workplaces.

An artist’s impression of how Lynetteholm would have looked based on the first proposals in 2018. Illustration: Danish Ministry of Transport and Housing

When the project was announced a year ago, Denmark’s then housing minister, Ole Birk Olesen, boasted that the protection from sea-level rise would come for free.

“It will cost around zero kroner,” he declared.
“We will receive payment for disposing of the waste earth.
In addition, we will get a free island which we can sell the land from.
Selling the land will then finance a sea tunnel.”

Since the island expanded from 190 hectares (470 acres) to 282 this August, the financial case has become stronger still.
Whereas building a sea dyke to protect Copenhagen would have cost 750m Danish kroner (£87m), the city government estimates that building the island could yield a profit of 2.7bn kroner, simply from selling the earth.

Sea change

The idea that protecting against climate change could actually be profitable has motivated many other cities to explore similar ideas.
Just down the Copenhagen harbour at the Danish Architecture Centre, Bjarke Ingels Group is exhibiting its bold vision of a reimagined New York City coastline.

Laid out on tabletops is a model of Manhattan, its waterfront embellished with new parks and solar-powered high-rise buildings.
Monitors flash images of devastation from Hurricane Sandy.

“We are basically proposing to expand Manhattan a little bit into the Hudson River and make a few new neighbourhoods that are going to create so much value that we can actually finance the parks on the waterfront,” Ingels told the Venice Biennale last year.

Seawater floods the entrance to the Brooklyn battery tunnel during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
Photograph: John Minchillo/AP

The idea was backed in March by New York City’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, who announced $10bn for expanding the coastline as far as 150 metres.
“If there’s not federal money in play, we have to get some private money into it, and there has to be some development,” he said.

Meanwhile, Singapore’s prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, faced with the estimated S$100bn (£58bn) cost of combating rising sea levels over the coming century, proposed to reclaim a chain of new islands along the city state’s south-east coast, or else construct a series of Dutch-style polders.

“You not only protect existing low-lying areas, but you extend out and create more land reclaimed from the sea, which we can use for housing and other valuable purposes,” he said in his annual speech to the nation, arguing that the new land would help offset the expense.

Jakarta has also floated a new scheme to protect itself from rising waters, a particularly urgent requirement given that the Indonesian capital is also physically sinking.
The plan is a less ambitious version of the much-criticised Great Garuda project: the city would reclaim no less than 2,000 hectares of land along the coast, and sell it to help pay to build a 20km sea dyke at an estimated cost of $18bn (£14bn).
With 40% of the city already below sea level, and some areas sinking by 25cm a year, there’s little time for delay.

Boys swim in floodwater on the land side of a recently built seawall in Jakarta, Indonesia. Photograph: Ed Wray/Getty Images

The Dutch, global experts on protecting low-lying land from the sea, are doing the same.
When the Rijnland water board constructed a sea dyke along the coast of Katwijk in 2013, it combined the project with an underground car park for 650 cars.

“It’s not only a dyke, it’s a dune that creates a nice ecosystem, it’s great for tourism and it’s the first dyke on earth that actually generates revenues, because it sells parking tickets,” Piet Dircke of Arcadis, the engineering firm that worked on the project.

Not everyone is convinced, however.
Ahmed Aboutaleb, the mayor of Rotterdam, a city widely considered one of the leaders in climate mitigation, just shakes his head.

“No, no, no,” he says.
“Safety and security is not a business model.”

In the Netherlands, he asserts, no one resents paying taxes towards protection from the sea.

The Maeslant surge barrier in Rotterdam,  a city widely considered a global leader in climate mitigation.
Photograph: Rob Doolaard/EPA

 Maeslant surge barrier with the GeoGarage platform (NLHO nautical raster chart)

“I think the national investment in reinforcing dykes and levees is now €1bn [£860,000] a year, and it happens in the parliament without a debate – with a hammer.”

Henk Ovink, the Dutch government’s special envoy for international water affairs, is also wary of the idea that cities can get their climate defences for free.

“I’m always a little bit careful, because all of a sudden everything has to have a business case, and you don’t need any taxpayer dollar at all,” he says.

Ovink, a globetrotting salesman promoting Dutch water expertise, is an evangelist for publicly funding flood defences, as the Dutch have done since at least the 13th century when farmers grouped together to form the first waterschappen (water boards).

‘No life or body’

Similar criticism has been levelled at Copenhagen’s plans, with some architects complaining the idea is about little more than generating revenues.

“It’s just an engineering project, it has no life or body, it’s simply a study in how you can earn money,” says Eva Sara Rasmussen, founder of NaTour, a climate-focused landscape architecture and urban planning firm.
“This proposal has not been touched by either God or nature, or by any kind of aesthetic person.”

Earlier proposals had a hard coastline facing the sea and beaches on the sheltered side, something water specialists pointed out repeated mistakes made in land reclamation projects in Dubai and elsewhere.

The original plans for Lynetteholm.Illustration: Danish Ministry of Transport and Housing

“The beaches need to be facing the waves.
It’s the waves or the currents which determine whether it will be a nice beach or not,” says Jacob Høst-Madsen, chief operating officer of DHI, the Danish water engineering firm now hired to work on the project.

“If you look at The World or The Palm [uncompleted artificial island projects off the coast of Dubai], and see what was supposed to be beaches and nice waters, you will see that it’s smelly and not something you would like to touch.”

The new plans are expected to work with nature, for example ensuring eel grass grows in the shallows.
However, with part of Lynetteholm sitting far out in a deep 16-metre channel, gentle sloping coastlines and attractive beaches or wetlands will be difficult to achieve, if not impossible, Rasmussen argues.

Skovbro has little time for the critics.
If the city didn’t build an island, it would have to build an ugly dyke, she argues.

“If the water comes in here, it floods everything,” she says, sweeping her hand over a map of Copenhagen’s inner harbour and its landmark buildings: “The queen. The parliament. Everything.”

The geography of Copenhagen has always been formed by its defences, she says, pointing to the informal enclave of Christiania, the Tivoli Gardens and the Citadel, all of which began as a single ring of fortifications.
After Nelson burned much of the city’s medieval centre, the Danish parliament funded a second, outer ring.

Now, she says, it’s time for a third.
“Let’s make a new ring, a flood protection ring,” she says.
“In Danish, we call it a klimaring: a climate ring.”

Links :

Monday, October 28, 2019

Decades of detailed weather reports pulled from old sailor's logs

Polar explorer Robert Falcon Scott's ship Terra Nova is moored amid pack ice in Antarctica in the early 1900s.
Photograph by Herbert Ponting, Nat Geo Image Collection

From National Geographic by Madeleine Stone

A database created in part from 19th-century maritime records sharpens our view of climate change over the past 150 years.

In September of 1879, the Arctic-exploring USS Jeanette was sailing north of the Bering Strait when it was surrounded by ice floes and frozen in place.
Imprisoned at sea, the 33-person crew struggled to survive for nearly two years before their ship sank, forcing them to embark on a perilous journey back to civilization.
While they were stranded, the crew took down regular observations of the weather—winds, clouds, air pressure, temperature—creating a detailed meteorological record where no others existed.

One hundred and forty years later, that record is now helping scientists reconstruct Earth’s weather and climate history in unprecedented detail.

The USS Jeanette’s logs, which eventually made their way back to the United States along with 13 haggard crewmen led by chief engineer George Melville, were among the very first to be rescued as part of the Old Weather: Arctic project, a citizen science-fueled effort to digitize and transcribe the weather observations made by U.S. military vessels that sailed the Arctic in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Those records, along with similar data housed in many other archives, are being fed into the 20th Century Reanalysis, a sophisticated weather reconstruction database developed by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration that allows scientists to characterize floods, droughts, storms, and other extreme events from history—and use the violent weather of the past to understand the present.

This woodcut depicts Lieutenant Commander George DeLong and his party wading ashore from the Jeannette in 1881.
Their ship sank after being trapped in ice for two years.
Woodcut By George T. Andrew, Designed By M.J. Burns,
Photograph Courtesy U.S. Naval History And Heritage Command

Earlier this month, that reconstruction received a major update when scientists infused it with millions of new observations from old ship’s logs and weather stations around the world.
Now, NOAA’s souped-up “weather time machine” can produce snapshots of Earth’s atmosphere eight times a day going all the way back to 1836.
“Every three hours, we’re providing an estimate of what the weather was, anywhere in the world,” says Laura Slivinski, a research scientist at the University of Colorado Boulder's Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) and NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory.
“It’s pretty unique.”

The ‘fog of ignorance’

Today, scientists have myriad satellites and weather stations at their disposal to study the weather.
But satellite record keeping only began about 40 years ago, and prior to the mid-20th century there were far fewer weather stations.
Scientists can use models to “hindcast” the weather further back in time, but without data to feed into those models, their reconstructions are murky.

“We call it the fog of ignorance,” says Gilbert Compo, a senior research scientist at NOAA’s CIRES.

To cut through that fog, researchers at NOAA have spent more than a decade gathering data on surface pressure, temperature, and sea ice conditions from archives around the world that are being digitized and transcribed with the help of volunteers.
These data rescue efforts include several iterations of the Old Weather project, a project that digitized hand-written weather reports from 19th-century England, one focused on log books kept by Australian sea captains, and many more.

Logbook for the Jeannette, a ship that was imprisoned in ice for two years before it sank.
Its crew carried the log to safety.
Photograph Courtesy National Archives And Records Administration

Once written records have been placed in a format NOAA can use, they can be added to the 20th Century Reanalysis, which uses a model similar to the one the National Weather Service relies on to make forecasts to produce snapshots of the atmosphere going back in time.
The latest version of the reanalysis includes 25 percent more observations for years prior to 1930, resulting in far more reliable hindcasts, particularly for the 19th century.

Every additional ship’s log helps.
For instance, in October 1880, a famously powerful cyclone made landfall in the town of Sitka in the Alaska panhandle.
Older versions of the 20th Century Reanalysis couldn’t recreate this storm at all.
But the latest update includes observations from the USS Jamestown, a vessel that was moored offshore at the time.
With its pressure readings, the weather time machine is now able to produce a storm in the right location at the right time.
“It feels like a drop in the bucket, but those observations add up,” Slivinski says.

Weather past and present

Scientists are already putting their new weather time machine to good use.

Barbara Mayes Boustead, a meteorologist and climatologist with NOAA’s National Weather Service, is using it to study the winter of 1880-81 famously described in the The Long Winter, a fictionalized memoir by Laura Ingalls Wilder that draws on her memories of growing up in southeastern Dakota Territory.
She’s discovered that much of what Wilder wrote about that winter some 50 years later is accurate.
“The first snow fell in October exactly as Laura described it,” Boustead says.
“Her depiction of what happened is as good as a weather journal.”

Frequent snowstorms and brutal cold snaps gripped the central United States from October to April.
Using reanalysis, Boustead has managed to reconstruct the global atmospheric setup responsible for this terrible winter, including an extremely negative phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation, a pattern that’s “strongly tied to cold weather anywhere east of the Rockies in the U.S.,” she says.

Boustead is continuing to use NOAA’s weather time machine to study other extreme events described in Wilder’s books.
Other scientists, meanwhile, are interested in what it can tell us about Earth’s most violent weather today.

Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach is hoping to use the new reanalysis to see how well today’s hurricane prediction tools work for 19th century storms.
For instance, forecasters often use El Niño to predict hurricane activity, since more intense El Niño years tend to coincide with more cyclones in the eastern Pacific and fewer in the Atlantic.
If those relationships were weaker 150 years ago, that may tell us something about how climate change is affecting hurricanes today.

Scientists can use the weather time machine to ask even bigger questions—like whether climate change is disrupting the Gulf Stream.
A lot of the studies investigating this topic “are based on reconstructions that only go back 50-60 years,” Slivinski says.
“If you go back 100 years before that, you get a bigger picture of is this a trend or is this just a blip.
So we’re really excited to look at that.”

Historical weather data remains pretty sparse for the Southern Hemisphere, particularly around Antarctica.
And the farther back in time we go, the scanter the records are in general.
That means there’s still plenty of room for NOAA to improve its time machine.

And with millions of weather records still gathering dust in archives around the world, scientists are hoping to do exactly that.

“Are [storms] faster or slower, stronger or weaker? Are heat waves lasting longer?” Compo says.
“We really want as many ships as we can to clear that fog.”

Links :

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Largest ship ever to transit Corinth Canal

On October 9, the cruise ship Braemar made history, as it became the longest ever ship to cruise through the Corinth Canal in Greece.
It takes precision navigation for this ship to steer through a skinny canal. 
The 24-meter-wide canal connects the Saronic Gulf with the Gulf of Corinth.

Corinth canal in the GeoGarage platform (NGA nautical chart)

The Corinth Canal is just large enough to accommodate the 22.5-meter wide Braemar.

While transiting, the ship was close enough to the canal's sides, that guests could almost touch the walls, informs Clare Ward, director of product for Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines.
Braemar is currently on a 25-night tour of the Greek islands and the Peloponnese.
In the following video you can a first-person timelapse of the ship's transit through the canal.