Saturday, November 23, 2019


For the past 3 years, filmmaker Nuno Dias has been busy capturing the life of one of the most enigmatic phenomenons of the Big wave Scene, Kalani Lattanzi.
Filmed in Nazaré and Rio de Janeiro, this documentary portrays Brazilian waterman Kalani Lattanzi’s route, all the way from his origins and first contact with the ocean in Brasil, to Nazaré in Portugal.
Where ultimately, with his body alone, no fins or boards or jets, he faces the biggest waves in the world, in the most pure form of wave riding: bodysurf.
“Kalani - Gift from Heaven” also counts with the participation and testimonies of some of the biggest names in the big wave scene, that crossed or witnessed Kalani’s path, names like Garrett McNamara, Andrew Cotton, Ross Clarke-Jones, Hugo Vau, Maya Gabeira, Carlos Burle, Nic Von Rupp, Lucas Chumbo, David Langer, Tim Bonython, Tom Lowe, Dudu Pedra and João Zik.
This production contains a lot of unreleased and unique big wave imagery of Nazaré, including historic footage of the biggest waves ever attempted by a bodysurfer.
The result is enriched by a variety of different angles: action from land, aerial photography or water footage, in what is a particularly difficult sport to capture on video.
At 25, Nuno Dias has filmed some of the most iconic Nazaré moments, is a multiple WSL Big wave award winner, including the filming of a Guiness Record Wave. His film “Empties” won best short film in 2018 at SAL, and later the Festival Lagoa Surf e Arte, in Florianópolis, Brasil.

Friday, November 22, 2019

The new ocean explorers

Our oceans are changing at an unprecedented rate.
Discover how Saildrone is taking action by building a global fleet of 1,000 wind-powered, emission-free ocean drones to monitor our oceans in real time and working with the science community to improve our collective understanding on how these changes impact people around the world.

From Popular Mechanics by Stav Dimitropoulos

Meet the wind- and solar-powered ocean drones boldly going where humans rarely venture—including the harsh, unforgiving Antarctic.

On January 19, 2019, an unmanned surface vehicle going by the name SD 1020 left Bluff, New Zealand, heavily tasked.
SD 1020 had to cover 22,000 kilometers (11,879 nautical miles) around the Antarctic (Southern) Ocean, ​where colossal waves occasionally soar to nearly 24 meters, gusting winds exceed 65 knots, and titanium icebergs emerge out of nowhere, as the neophyte ocean envelops Antarctica like the iciest blanket ever—the Earth’s coldest, most remote, and most hostile water mass.
The SD 1020 showed great resolve.

On August 3, 2019, it returned to Bluff safe and became the first vessel ever to have completed an autonomous circumnavigation of the Antarctic.

SD 1020 approaches Point Bluff, New Zealand, in stormy conditions after finishing the First Saildrone Antarctic Circumnavigation, sailing 22,000 kilometers around the Antarctic Ocean in 196 days.

SD 1020 is a member of the wider family of saildrones, wind- and solar-powered ocean drones that are able to sail 100 kilometers per day on average, and which consist of a narrow seven-meter-long hull, a five-meter-tall wing, and a keel with a 2.5-meter draft.
These saildrones can be deployed and recovered from any seaside dock and can fit into a shipping container allowing transit to any launch site.
When they’re deployed from a dock, they can sail to the area of study, and come back once the mission is complete.

“Saildrones are autonomous,” says Richard Jenkins, engineer, founder, and CEO of Saildrone, the company that designs, produces, and manages these USVs.
A human gives them a route to sail and waypoints, and the vehicles get from one waypoint to the next autonomously by themselves.
And they do so without putting to risk the sea or any marine life that crosses their path.

Generation 4 saildrone deployed from San Francisco on the 2018 White Shark Cafe mission.

The technology enabling this autonomy is wholesome: Each USV carries an automatic identification system, navigation lights, a radar reflector, high visibility wing colors, four onboard cameras, acoustic Doppler current profilers (sonar systems to measure water current velocities), passive acoustic recorders for marine mammal studies, and an array of 20 sensors, different for each saildrone (sensors are recruited in alignment with the tasks the human operator wants to complete).

These machines don’t fly, but that doesn’t make them any less fascinating.
Currently, there are about 30 of these autonomous SailDrones deployed around the world.
These vessels are jam-packed with sensors and analyze parts of the oceans where normally very few people venture.
The SailDrone company aims to have about 1,000 of these sailing drones navigating the world in a few years.

Linked to onboard computers and transmitting their data through satellite communications to the Saildrone mission control center in Alameda, California, these sensors can measure anything, whether it be air, sea, and bulk water temperature, irradiance, barometric pressure, wind speed and direction, wave height and period, salinity and acidity levels, biomass and the list goes on.

When SD 1020 was launched from Bluff, it was “ordered” to accomplish a suite of science objectives.
Most of them were about investigating the abundance of krill, the direct and indirect relationships between marine predators and prey, and the oceanic carbon dioxide uptake and general acidification—targets developed in collaboration with prominent research agencies of the U.S., Europe, and Australia.
But SD 1020 didn’t leave the shores of New Zealand alone.

On that same January day, SD 1022 and SD 1023, two more saildrones, were launched alongside SD 1020, but were damaged en route and had to return to Bluff soon after.
(The two drones were relaunched last May and are currently in the Southern Atlantic Ocean, collecting data on krill.)
What made SD 1020 successful was its wing.
SD 1022 and SD 1023 had a tall and slender wing, unable to withstand winds over 60 knots and the subsequent massive waves; au contraire, the triumphant USV had a robust, newly designed “square rig” able to withstand the huge forces of being rolled and submerged by 15-meter waves.
It was a result of 10 years of research that interestingly span from Jenkins’s previous successful attempt to break the land speed record for a wind-powered vehicle.

“The Southern Ocean is one of the most unexamined areas of our planet,” Jenkins says.
“The survival of the saildrone at sea for [so] long is an evolution of very solid engineering,” Jenkins says.

SD 1022 and SD 1023 being redeployed to the Southern Ocean after receiving new "square wings."

Though scientists have yet to wrap up their surveys, Jenkins is confident that the data saildrone SD 1020 brought to shore after circumnavigating the world’s youngest ocean for 196 days will have a tremendous impact on our understanding of the environment, weather, and climate, and will aid the sectors of shipping, fishing and oil and gas exploration.

“We can’t make any sweeping claims before scientists digest the data, but it’s safe to say that we already have important new data, particularly with reference to the rates of carbon uptake in the Southern Ocean,” Jenkins says.
Previous scientific knowledge on the Southern Ocean based primarily on observations made from ships that avoided extreme winter weather conditions in the region assumed that the Antarctic was a huge carbon sink.
But in the face of recent findings, scientists might want to reconsider.

“Work done through the Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations and Modeling project [a multi-institutional program aimed at unraveling the mysteries of the Southern Ocean and determining its impact on the climate] involved deploying pH sensors on autonomous floats in the ocean, a hose developed by Team Durafet, one of the winning Teams in the Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE,” says Jyotika Virmani, physical oceanographer, atmospheric scientist, and executive director of planet and environment at XPRIZE.
“Data showed that the Southern Ocean may not sponge up as much carbon as hitherto thought, however, there was some uncertainty in this data,” Virmani continues.
Obviously, she finds the Saildrone mission a great achievement: “The strong winds and giant waves, and generally extremely harsh conditions of the Antarctic Ocean in the winter make it extremely difficult to accurately sample with manned vessels.
The recent amazing Saildrone mission has shown that advancing autonomous and unmanned technologies can really enhance the understanding of our ocean.”

Photo taken from SD 1020’s onboard camera during the 2019 Antarctic Circumnavigation.

Petros Ioannou, professor of electrical engineering systems at the University of Southern California, is also positive that such big strides in ocean exploration are a natural expression of where the technology is headed.
“It’s great to have all these unmanned vehicles,” Ioannou says.
“We are talking about a very hostile environment where it would be risky for humans to be on board.”

So these drones become very potent.
They can discover things previously impossible to discover.
That said, Ioannou is quick to sound a more skeptical note about the safety of the USVs.
“What happens if pirates interfere with the signals coming from the commander control centers and direct the drone elsewhere?” he asks.
“What if you lose contact with the vehicle? How does it recover? What kind of protocols will it follow? How about its failure modes? Can you sink it for example? How do you eliminate the risk of causing epic accidents?” Ioannou says.

Asked about whether saildrones have failure modes, Jenkins says there’s no need for a self-destruct capability on the drones because their data is encrypted, and there’s no scrap value in the vehicle, so the targets for capture in the same way that some USVs, mostly military drones, are.

Ioannou also appears unsure of who is going to benefit from such technologies.
“Let’s say you map the ocean, like we map the space.
Who is going to pay for it? Who would benefit from the knowledge of the deep ocean? We know there are minerals in the ocean floor.
Probably oil mining companies?” he says.
(The Antarctic Ocean is believed to host huge deposits of oil and gas fields on continental margin and valuable minerals like gold).

SD 1023 returning to New Zealand for repairs after damage to the wing during a storm in the Antarctic Ocean.
photo : Stephen Jaquiery

Meanwhile, last August, another saildrone family member, SD 1021, completed the fastest unmanned Atlantic crossing.
SD 1021 was launched from Bermuda in the North Atlantic Ocean on May 25, with the mission to sail toward the Solent, the strait that separates the Isle of Wight from the mainland of England, and cover 3,000 nautical miles (5,550 km) in 75 days in the process.

 SD 1021’s mission track from Newport, RI, to the Gulf Stream (pink), Bermuda to the UK (green), and back across the North Atlantic to Newport, RI (red).

It was one more record-setting race for Saildrone, which, according to its website, collects the data of all its missions for fish stock assessments, marine mammal tracking, bathymetric mapping, monitoring changes to the ocean ecosystem, and improved weather forecasting.

Only at the time of speaking, the company deploys 30 drones around the world, with aims to snowball the size of the fleet.
“We are making 100 drones this year and intend to make 200 next year,” says Jenkins.
“Next year again, we want to have 10 to 20 vehicles permanently circumnavigating the Southern Ocean.”

An estimated 1,000 drones roaming the planet is the Saildrone’s CEO ultimate endgame; he wants to fill the Earth with saildrones.
“We have collected data from where no data has ever been collected before and proven we are capable of navigating anywhere in the world, throughout the entire year,” Jenkins says.
“This opens the door to a whole new chapter in understanding weather and climate.”

Links :

Thursday, November 21, 2019

The World’s largest caldera discovered In the Philippine Sea

From Forbes by David Bressan

A team of marine geophysicists recently published a paper describing a large igneous massif east of the island of Luzon, located on the bottom of the Philippine Sea.

 Localization of Benham Bank with the GeoGarage platform (NGA nautical raster chart)

Based on the morphology, the research suggests that the submarine mountain massif represents the remains of a volcanic caldera with a diameter of ~150 km (93 miles), twice the size of the famous Yellowstone caldera in Wyoming (U.S.).

Bathymetry map showing major undersea features in the West Philippine Basin (WPB): Benham Rise, Central Basin Spreading Center, Palau-Kyushu Ridge, Philippine Trench, East Luzon Trough (ELT), Luzon-Okinawa Fracture Zone, Gagua Ridge, Ryukyu Trench, Urdaneta Plateau, Oki-Daito Rise, Oki-Daito Ridge, Daito Ridge, and Amami Plateau.
Inset shows map location relative to the Philippine Sea Plate.
Background is predicted bathymetry

Gravimetric analysis shows that the Benham Rise, as the submarine mountain massif is named, consists of a nine miles thick layer of magmatic and volcanic rocks.

Rock samples comprise ages of 47.9 to 26-million-years, when volcanic activity build up the massif.
Sonar surveys of the seafloor also revealed the morphology for the first time.

Bathymetry map of the Benham Rise region produced from NAMRIA's multibeam grid overlaid on predicted bathymetry grid.
Thin grey line marks the extent of multibeam data.
The thin grey lines on the profiles mark slope values and the blue arrows point to where the platform base transitions to the crest.
Abbreviated feature names are: AB = Aurora Bank, BS = Bicol Saddle, BB = Benham Bank, B = Bayog Seamount, PH=Peña Hill, VS=Vinogradov Seamount, MS=Molave Saddle, PT = Philippine Trench, LOFZ = Luzon-Okinawa Fracture Zone, and CBSC = Central Basin Spreading Center. 

Locations of bathymetry profiles A-A′, B-B′ and C-C′ are plotted on the map together with locations DSDP 31 Site 292 and seismic lines RC2006-61 and GC31.
 Profile C-C′ showing a cross-section of the circular outer ridge and basin floor at the NW corner of the crest. Vertical dashed grey lines mark where the profile line changes direction.

The Benham Rise is rising from the 5.200 meters (~17,000 ft) deep seafloor to ~2500 meters, roughly 8,200 ft, beneath the sea surface, with a depression in the central portion, which likely is a volcanic caldera.
When large volumes of magma are erupted over a short time, a volcano may collapses downward into the emptied or partially emptied magma chamber, leaving a massive depression at the surface, from one to dozens of kilometers in diameter.
The circular depression on the Benham Rise is surrounded by a crest with scarps as high as 100 to 300 meters (300 to 900 ft).

 Bathymetry map of Benham Bank, a guyot shallowing to ~50 m below sea level.
Its summit and flanks exhibit evidence of mass wasting such as scarps and embayments.
Contour interval at 100 m.

It may be the world's largest known caldera with a diameter of ~150 km (93 miles).
For comparison, the famous caldera of Yellowstone in Wyoming is only about 60 km (37 miles) wide.
The researchers named the caldera Apolaki, meaning “giant lord”, after the Filipino god of the sun and war.

Links : 

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Climate change: speed limits for ships can have 'massive' benefits

Cornwall, UK, example of ships’ tracks.
Image courtesy of Edward Gryspeerdt, with data from NASA

From BBC by

Cutting the speed of ships has huge benefits for humans, nature and the climate, according to a new report.

A 20% reduction would cut greenhouse gases but also curb pollutants that damage human health such as black carbon and nitrogen oxides.
This speed limit would cut underwater noise by 66% and reduce the chances of whale collisions by 78%.

UN negotiators will meet in London this week to consider proposals to curb maritime speeds.
Ships, of all sorts and sizes, transport around 80% of the world's goods by volume.
However they are also responsible for a significant portion of global greenhouse emissions thanks to the burning of fuel.

Shipping generates roughly 3% of the global total of warming gases - that's roughly the same quantity as emitted by Germany.
While shipping wasn't covered by the Paris climate agreement, last year the industry agreed to cut emissions by 50% by 2050 compared to 2008 levels.

This new study, carried out for campaign groups Seas at Risk and Transport & Environment builds on existing research that suggests that slowing down ships is a good idea if you want to curb greenhouse gases.

The report though also considers a range of other impacts of a speed cut such as on air pollution and marine noise.

As ships travel more slowly they burn less fuel, which means there are also savings in black carbon, sulphur and nitrogen oxides.
The last two in particular have serious impacts on human health, particularly in cities and coastal areas close to shipping lanes.

The report found that cutting ship speed by 20% would cut sulphur and nitrogen oxides by around 24%.
There are also significant reductions in black carbon, which are tiny black particles contained in the smoke from ship exhausts.

Cutting black carbon helps limit climate warming in the Arctic region because when ships burn fuel in the icy northern waters, the particles often fall on snow, and restrict its ability to reflect back sunlight, which accelerates heating in the Arctic region.

The study also says that a 20% cut in speed would reduce noise pollution by two thirds - while the same speed limitation would reduce the chances of a ship colliding with a whale by 78%.
"It's a massive win, win, win, win," said John Maggs from Seas at Risk.
"We've got a win from a climate point of view, we've got a win from a human health point of view, we've got a win for marine nature, we've got a potential safety gain, and up to a certain point we are saving the shipping industry money.
"It is also of course by far the simplest of the regulatory options.  Thanks to satellites and transponders on commercial vessels it really is quite easy to track their movements and the speed they are travelling."

Proposals to reduce the speed of ships are among the ideas that will be considered at this week's meeting of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in London.

Experts believe that in the medium to long term, the industry will move to alternative fuels.
But there is considerable pressure, including from many countries and shipping companies, for effective short term measures to curb emissions.

One proposal from France would focus on oil tankers and bulk carriers but not container or cruise ships.
Denmark is proposing that the industry has a goal-based standard, where it is up to the individual shipping companies as to how they meet it.

Many shipping companies are in favour of slowing down.
"Slow steaming not only reduces the fuel costs but its application does not require time-consuming procedures as it can be implemented instantly, it requires no investment from ship owners, can be easily monitored and is the most efficient means of slashing CO2 emissions," said Ioanna Procopiou, a Greek shipping company owner.

But the idea is not supported by some of the biggest names in the trade.
"Maersk remains opposed to speed limits," said Simon Christopher Bergulf, who is Regulatory Affairs Director with the giant Danish shipping conglomerate.
"We rather support the principle of applying power limitation measures.
Focusing on power instead of speed limits will help deliver on the CO2 reduction targets set by the IMO, whilst rewarding the most efficient ships."

What gives campaigners hope is that shipping has already tried out the concept of going slow - back in 2008, during the global financial crisis, cargo ships slowed down to cut costs.
With average speeds dropping by 12% this helped cut daily fuel consumption by 27%, which equated to a significant drop in emissions.

Campaigners believe that whatever decision the IMO eventually comes to will involve slower steaming.
"The short term measure, whatever it is, is going to reduce ship speed," said John Maggs.
"We think the best way to do this most effectively is with a direct speed limit, whether we get that or not is unknown, but ships will have to slow down in the future."

Links :

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Mapping global wind power potential

Offshore wind to become a $1 trillion industry

From IEA

Offshore wind power will expand impressively over the next two decades, boosting efforts to decarbonise energy systems and reduce air pollution as it becomes a growing part of electricity supply.
Offshore Wind Outlook 2019 is the most comprehensive global study on the subject to date, combining the latest technology and market developments with a specially commissioned new geospatial analysis.

Offshore wind power will expand impressively over the next two decades, boosting efforts to decarbonise energy systems and reduce air pollution as it becomes a growing part of electricity supply, according to an International Energy Agency report published today.

Offshore Wind Outlook 2019 is the most comprehensive global study on the subject to date, combining the latest technology and market developments with a specially commissioned new geospatial analysis that maps out wind speed and quality along hundreds of thousands of kilometres of coastline around the world.
The report is an excerpt from the flagship World Energy Outlook 2019, which will be published in full on 13 November.

The IEA finds that global offshore wind capacity may increase 15-fold and attract around $1 trillion of cumulative investment by 2040.
This is driven by falling costs, supportive government policies and some remarkable technological progress, such as larger turbines and floating foundations.
That’s just the start – the IEA report finds that offshore wind technology has the potential to grow far more strongly with stepped-up support from policy makers.

 CGI of Eolfi wind farm with Naval Energies floating platforms
Photo: Naval Energies

Europe has pioneered offshore wind technology, and the region is positioned to be the powerhouse of its future development.
Today, offshore wind capacity in the European Union stands at almost 20 gigawatts.
Under current policy settings, that is set to rise to nearly 130 gigawatts by 2040.
However, if the European Union reaches its carbon-neutrality aims, offshore wind capacity would jump to around 180 gigawatts by 2040 and become the region’s largest single source of electricity.

An even more ambitious vision – in which policies drive a big increase in demand for clean hydrogen produced by offshore wind – could push European offshore wind capacity dramatically higher.

China is also set to play a major role in offshore wind’s long-term growth, driven by efforts to reduce air pollution.
The technology is particularly attractive in China because offshore wind farms can be built near the major population centres spread around the east and south of the country.
By around 2025, China is likely to have the largest offshore wind fleet of any country, overtaking the United Kingdom.
China’s offshore wind capacity is set to rise from 4 gigawatts today to 110 gigawatts by 2040.
Policies designed to meet global sustainable energy goals could push that even higher to above 170 gigawatts.

The United States has good offshore wind resources in the northeast of the country and near demand centres along the densely populated east coast, offering a way to help diversify the country’s power mix.
Floating foundations would expand the possibilities for harnessing wind resources off the west coast.

“In the past decade, two major areas of technological innovation have been game-changers in the energy system by substantially driving down costs: the shale revolution and the rise of solar PV,” said Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive Director.
“And offshore wind has the potential to join their ranks in terms of steep cost reduction.”

 Offshore wind farm in Denmark (Horns Rev II) with the GeoGarage platform (DGA nautical chart)

Dr Birol launched this special report today in Copenhagen, Denmark – the birthplace of offshore wind – alongside the Danish Minister for Climate, Energy and Utilities, Dan Jørgensen.

The huge promise of offshore wind is underscored by the development of floating turbines that could be deployed further out at sea.
In theory, they could enable offshore wind to meet the entire electricity demand of several key electricity markets several times over, including Europe, the United States and Japan.

“Offshore wind currently provides just 0.3% of global power generation, but its potential is vast,” Dr Birol said.
“More and more of that potential is coming within reach, but much work remains to be done by governments and industry for it to become a mainstay of clean energy transitions.”

Governments and regulators can clear the path ahead for offshore wind’s development by providing the long-term vision that will encourage industry and investors to undertake the major investments required to develop offshore wind projects and link them to power grids on land.
That includes careful market design, ensuring low-cost financing and regulations that recognise that the development of onshore grid infrastructure is essential to the efficient integration of power production from offshore wind.

Industry needs to continue the rapid development of the technology so that wind turbines keep growing in size and power capacity, which in turn delivers the major performance and cost reductions that enables offshore wind to become more competitive with gas-fired power and onshore wind.

What’s more, huge business opportunities exist for oil and gas sector companies to draw on their offshore expertise.
An estimated 40% of the lifetime costs of an offshore wind project, including construction and maintenance, have significant synergies with the offshore oil and gas sector.
That translates into a market opportunity of USD 400 billion or more in Europe and China over the next two decades.

Links :

A naturalist figured out climate change in 1799. The world forgot him.

Horses rear in a shallow pond filled with electric eels in this illustration from "The Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt" written by Andrea Wulf and illustrated by Lillain Melcher

From CSMonitor by Anna Tarnow

Driven by a restless curiosity that resisted the confines of any one scientific discipline, Alexander von Humboldt offered the world a kaleidoscopic view of the wonders of nature.

Andrea Wulf and Lillian Melcher bring this “forgotten father of environmentalism” to life in a lush graphic novel.

Few people today remember Alexander von Humboldt, but the Prussian naturalist predicted climate change back in the early 19th century.
“He’s the forgotten father of environmentalism,” says historian Andrea Wulf.

During Humboldt’s travels through Venezuela in 1799, he noticed that farmers in the Aragua valley were deforesting the region to grow indigo.
As a result, the nearby lake was drying up.
Later, in a letter to President Thomas Jefferson dated June 1804, he wrote, “The wants and restless activity of large communities of men gradually despoil the face of the Earth.”

It was one of the first Western observations of human-caused climate change, according to Wulf.
Environmentalists and scientists like Charles Darwin, John Muir, and Henry David Thoreau were heavily influenced by his writings, which were widely read during his lifetime.
Wulf wanted to raise Humboldt’s profile for today’s readers.
So she wrote “The Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt,” a lush and meticulously illustrated history of his South American expedition.

Courtesy of Penguin Random House
“The Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt” written by Andrea Wulf and Lillian Melcher, Pantheon, 272 pp.

“I grew up in Germany, so we heard about [Humboldt] as an adventurer, or maybe a botanist,” Wulf says.
“But no one talked about him as the man who had predicted harmful, human-induced climate change.
So that became the thing that got me going.”
She’s also the author of “The Invention of Nature,” a 2015 New York Times bestselling nonfiction book that delves more deeply into Humboldt’s life and influence.

“The Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt” stands apart with its rich visual presentation: It’s filled with Humboldt’s own drawings, maps, and writings, all sourced from the Berlin State Library’s digitized collection of his journals.
Those are juxtaposed with a dizzying array of reproductions, including pressed botanical samples, landscape paintings, and photos.
And it’s all stitched together by the artwork of Lillian Melcher, a recent Parsons School of Design graduate.

Early adopter: Alexander von Humboldt on the Orinoco River in Venezuela.
Portrait by Friedrich Georg Weitsch, 1806
(creditline: Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie /
photographer: Karin März / montage: Raufeld Medien)

“[Humboldt] was one of the first people to make science popular and accessible, because he used infographics in all of his books,” says Melcher.
She believes strongly in following in his footsteps to increase scientific literacy.
“I think that combination of science and art is a better way to learn,” she says.

Wulf and Melcher collaborated to storyboard the book, but “Humboldt was our third collaborator,” Melcher says.

Each page represents weeks’ worth of research.
“Andrea and I are definitely the same kind of nerdy, where we just want accuracy.
We want to know all the little details,” Melcher says.

 Map of Rio Orinoco designed by Humboldt

For example, the scanned pages of Humboldt’s diary that appear as background images on most pages of the book actually correspond to the events taking place in the story.
When Humboldt’s boat capsized in the Orinoco River, his journals were stained with river water.
Wulf and Melcher used reproductions of those diary pages to collage an image of the river, and Melcher drew Humboldt jumping into the pages to rescue his belongings.

“He’s jumping through that watermark to rescue his diary, but it’s [also] the real watermark,” says Wulf.
“It’s this double sense and I just love it.”

Humboldt’s interests were so wide-ranging that he found it hard to settle into a specific discipline.
(That’s perhaps one of the reasons he fell into obscurity: As scientific thought progressed, narrower focuses took precedent.)
The structure of “The Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt” is a true reflection of his restless curiosity – always varied, sometimes digressive, it’s a kaleidoscopic view into the diverse, fascinating, and occasionally brutal landscape of the South America that he encountered.

Intrinsic to Humboldt’s writings were his critiques of imperialism and slavery, as well as of environmental degradation.
With startling prescience, he pointed out the economic, environmental, and human costs of slavery and silver mining in “Essay on the Kingdom of New Spain” and “Political Essay on the Island of Cuba.”
Both are introduced in Wulf’s and Melcher’s book.

Importantly, he allowed his passion for nature to influence and color his work.
“If I look at [today’s] climate change debate in the political arena ...
what I’m really missing is that no one dares to talk about the wonders of nature,” says Wulf.
“[Humboldt] says we need to feel nature.
We need to use our imagination to understand nature.
And this aspect of his work, I think, is what makes it incredibly relevant today.”

There’s no doubt Humboldt was intrepid.
He fearlessly placed himself in harm’s way to gather knowledge, even if that meant climbing active volcanoes, crawling into mines, and prodding electric eels.
When a ship he was on sailed into a hurricane with 40-foot waves, he sat down to calculate the exact angle at which the boat would capsize.
Death would be better experienced methodically, he reasoned.
The ship stayed afloat.

Links :

Sunday, November 17, 2019

NOAA seeks public comment on ending production of traditional paper nautical charts

NOAA cartographers review a traditional printed nautical chart


NOAA is initiating a five-year process to end all traditional paper nautical chart production and is seeking the public’s feedback via a Federal Register Notice published on November 15, 2019.
Chart users, companies that provide products and services based on NOAA raster and electronic navigational chart (NOAA ENC®) products, and other stakeholders can help shape the manner and timing in which the product sunsetting process will proceed.
Comments may be submitted through NOAA’s online ASSIST feedback tool.

 The creation of nautical maps is explained.

A long tradition in transition

For nearly 200 years, NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey has produced traditional paper nautical chart products.
Originally, this took the singular form of hard copy paper charts, today, there are several raster digital chart formats available to download or print through a NOAA certified agent.
Similar to the transition from road atlases to GPS navigation systems that we have witnessed in this digital era, we are also seeing the increased reliance on NOAA electronic navigational charts (ENC) as the primary navigational product and the decreased use of traditional raster chart products.
Since 2008, ENC sales have increased by 425%, while sales of paper charts have dropped by half.

The International Maritime Organization now mandates that all large commercial vessels on international voyages use ENCs.
In 2016, the U.S. Coast Guard started allowing regulated commercial vessels on domestic voyages to use ENCs in lieu of paper charts.
Recreational boaters are also increasingly using electronic chart displays.

NOAA is in the midst of a multi-year program to improve its ENC coverage by replacing over 1,200 irregularly shaped ENC cells, compiled in over 130 different scales, with a standard gridded layout of ENCs, compiled in just a dozen standard scales.
This will increase the number of ENC cells to about 9,000 and significantly improve the level of detail and consistency among ENCs.
More information about improvements being made is in Transforming the NOAA ENC®.

 Electronic navigational chart displayed on an Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS) on NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson.

Another option for paper nautical charts

Ultimately, production will be shut down for all raster chart products and services associated with traditional NOAA paper nautical charts, including:

Cancellation of these product and services will start in mid to late 2020 and be completed by January 2025.
More detailed information regarding this transition is explained in the document Sunsetting Traditional NOAA Paper Charts: End of Paper and Raster Nautical Chart Production and Introduction of NOAA Custom Charts.

Over the next five years, NOAA will work to ease the transition to ENC-based products while continuing to support safe navigation.
NOAA will focus on improving data consistency and providing larger scale coverage of NOAA ENC, as well as providing access to paper chart products based on ENC data, either through the NOAA Custom Chart prototype or third-party commercial data providers.

The online NOAA Custom Chart (NCC) application enables users to create their own charts from the latest NOAA ENC data.
Users may define the scale and paper size of custom-made nautical charts centered on a position of their choosing.
NCC then creates a geospatially referenced Portable Document Format (GeoPDF) image of a nautical chart.
Chart notes and other marginalia are placed on a separate PDF page.
Users may then download, view, and print the output.
NCC is an easy way to create a paper or digital backup for electronic chart systems or other Global Positioning System (GPS) enabled chart displays.

 Traditional 1:100,000 scale NOAA paper nautical chart 16204.

 16204 raster chart in the GeoGarage platform (NOAA layer)
 A 1:80,000 scale NOAA Custom Chart of Port Clarence, Alaska.

 Port Clarence ENC US4AK81M

A comparison of NOAA Chart 16204 and the corresponding NOAA Custom Chart is shown below.
Although it looks a bit different from a traditional NOAA chart, NCCs show the latest data as compiled in the NOAA ENCs.
The prototype is in the early phases of development and many improvements are needed to make NCC a viable replacement for traditional paper nautical charts.
We hope you will try out the NOAA Custom Chart prototype and tell us what you think through NOAA’s online ASSIST feedback tool.Electronic navigational chart displayed on an Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS) on NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson.
Historical editions of nautical charts – suitable for framing – back to the mid-1800s, may also be downloaded for free from the Coast Survey Historical Map & Chart Collection website.

Links :

Three-masted Belem

Manon embarks for the first time on board the three-masted Belem,
an unprecedented 8-day experience at sea between Denmark and Sweden.
We're taking you on board for a series of 6 episodes to discover starting Friday, December 6, 2019.