Saturday, June 6, 2020

Google Art & Climate data : Heartbeat of the Earth

To celebrate World Environment Day, Google Arts & Culture and the UNFCCC are announcing "Heartbeat of the Earth", a series of new experimental artworks that offer everyone a new perspective to explore issues related to the climate crisis.

Google Arts & Culture worked with five artists who created four experiments/artworks that address one or more of the key findings of the landmark 2018 United Nations IPCC report and data from global scientific institutions such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the World Meteorological Organization.

The artists have interpreted the evidence and transformed it into striking and accessible visualizations or scenarios that help you learn more interactively about sea level rise, glacier retreat, food-related CO2 production or ocean acidification.

By supporting artists who explore scientific climate data, creating experimental artworks that engage the public in new ways to address the climate issues we face, Google Arts & Culture continues to support experimentation in art and technology.

Find the four interactive experiments / "climate artworks" below:

    Coastline Paradox - Artists Timo Aho and Pekka Niittyvirta (FIN) invite the viewer to explore a world where sea levels are rising and instability is increasing as we move into the future. -
A map and Street View experience visualizing the actual and predicted rise in sea level caused by the climate crisis.
See, for example, the effect this will have in our country by searching for "Belgium" in the search bar.

    Timelines - Photographs of spectacular landscapes taken by artist Fabian Oefner (CH) who used precise digital coordinates from ETH data, linking them to Google Earth terrain to visualize the retreat of glaciers and choose where he would take the photos from. 

    What We Eat - An interactive online artwork to engage people in activities that show the CO2 footprint of individual foods and diets.
The work by Laurie Frick (USA) visually explores the impact of individual diets, using US, UK and French data to expose the disparity in CO2 consumption between foods.

    Diving into the acidifying oceans - An interactive visualization of the data invites you to dive into the ocean and explore the impact of rising temperatures and, consequently, CO2 levels on marine life over time, using the cloud point.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Climate change: 'Stunning' seafloor ridges record Antarctic retreat

It's amongst the best ocean-floor imagery obtained anywhere around Antarctica
The spacing between the "rungs" is about 20-25m
Image copyright DOWDESWELL ET AL
From BBC by Jonathan Amos

Scientists are learning just how fast the ice margin of Antarctica can retreat in a warming world.

They've identified features on the seafloor that indicate the ice edge was reversing at rates of up to 50m a day at the end of the last ice age.
That's roughly 10 times faster than what's observed by satellites today.

Retreating ice sheets leaving their mark in the seabed
(Dowdeswell etal., Science, 2020)

The discovery is important because it puts realistic constraints on the computer simulations that are used to project future change in the region.
"In numerical models, you play with the parameters - and they can do very strange things," said Prof Julian Dowdeswell.
"But what these data are saying is that actually rates considerably higher than we get even in the satellite record today were possible in the not-far-distant geological past."

The director of the Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI) in Cambridge, UK, led an expedition last year to the Larsen region of the Antarctic Peninsula.
His team deployed autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) with high-resolution mapping capability to examine the sediments at the bottom of the western Weddell Sea.

What the robots saw was a delicate pattern of ridges that looked like a series of ladders where each rung was about 1.5m high and spaced roughly 20-25m apart.
The scientists interpret these ridges to be features that are generated at the ice grounding zone.
This zone is the point where the ice flowing off Antarctica into the ocean becomes buoyant and starts to float.
The rungs are created as the ice at this location repeatedly pats the sediments as the tides rise and fall.

The AUVs flew just 60m above the seafloor in about 500m of water

For the pattern to have been produced and preserved, the ice must have been in retreat (advancing ice would destroy the ridges).
And the tidal "clock" therefore gives a rate for this reversal.

Prof Dowdeswell explained: "We have a maximum of 90 of these rungs with a spacing of 20-25m - that gives us, if extrapolated, a rate of 40-50m per day.
Again, if extrapolated - that's a rate in excess of 10km per year of retreat.
And the really interesting thing about that is it's a rate that's pretty much an order of magnitude higher than even the most rapid retreat of the grounding lines in the Pine Island-Thwaites system today."

Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers are two of Antarctica's fastest-changing ice bodies whose ice margins are being melted by warm ocean water getting underneath them.

The ridges seen by the AUVs are some 40km from the cliffs that front the ice edge in the Larsen sector today.
The marks are considered to be around 12,000 years old.
Back then, the ice sheet would have been far more extensive than it is today, but like today would have been experiencing rapid change as the global climate emerged from the deepest of freezes.

The western Weddell Sea is not an easy place to work because of its abundant sea-ice


Dr Alistair Graham from the University of South Florida, US, works with AUV data.
He was not involved in this research.
He said he found the interpretation compelling but that there would likely be some scepticism in the community that the rungs really did form daily with the tides.
"The data in the paper are absolutely stunning," he told BBC News.
"The ability to map at a sub-metre resolution from an AUV really lifts a veil on the seafloor structure and composition.
We have been able to get snapshots of these sorts of images before, by sending an AUV under Pine Island Glacier, for example, but these imagery from the Dowdeswell team are the best yet from anywhere around Antarctica.

"What this paper also emphasises to me is that there are still big lessons to learn from looking at the past history of ice sheets at the poles.
For somewhere like Thwaites Glacier, where we are desperate to understand its future trajectory, understanding what it did in the centuries and millennia leading up to the observations we are making today will be a critical part of determining how much ice is lost and how fast going forwards.
"We do have similar high-resolution imagery from an AUV deployed at Thwaites Glacier last year that we are currently working on, and which will hopefully tackle some of these pressing questions."

The new research is published in the journal Science.
The Weddell Sea Expedition 2019 was an international effort led from the SPRI and funded in part by the Flotilla Foundation and Marine Archaeology Consultants Switzerland.

The AUVs were operated by the US-UK Ocean Infinity company.

Links :

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Autonomous vehicles help scientists estimate fish abundance while protecting human health and safety

Photo courtesy Saildrone


Scientists are capitalizing on existing technological capabilities and partnerships to collect fisheries data.
This will help fill the information gap resulting from the cancellation of FY20 ship-based surveys due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
NOAA Fisheries plans to use autonomous surface vehicles to collect some critically needed data to support management of the nation’s largest commercial fishery for Alaska pollock.

“Extraordinary times require extraordinary measures,” said Alex De Robertis, NOAA Fisheries fisheries biologist and project lead for the Alaska Fisheries Science Center.
“We knew there was a possibility that surveys may be cancelled this year, so we worked on a contingency plan to collect some data just in case.
We were able to capitalize on our previous experience working closely with Saildrone and NOAA Research’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory to get things off the ground quickly.”

This effort supports NOAA’s broader strategy to expand the use of emerging science and technologies including unmanned systems, artificial intelligence, and ‘omics to advance ocean research.
NOAA released its strategy in February.

“The Alaska Fisheries Science Center has been engaged in research and development efforts to test new technologies to both improve our operating efficiencies and enable us to quickly respond when situations like this arise,” said Robert Foy, Alaska Fisheries Science Center Director.
“Providing the best available science to support management decisions is at the heart of our mission to ensure the health of marine ecosystems while supporting sustainable commercial and recreational fisheries and strong local economies.”

Alaska Pollock aggregation measured from a Saildrone in the eastern Bering Sea.
Image credit: NOAA Fisheries

Measuring Fish Abundance Acoustically

Three saildrones, unmanned wind-powered surface vehicles, are en route.
They are sailing autonomously, from Alameda, California on a six-week journey to the eastern Bering Sea.
They are expected to reach Alaska in early July to begin a 60-day survey.
The ocean-going robots will cover roughly the same area normally covered by standard research vessels to estimate pollock abundance.

Scientists and engineers integrated newly designed low-power sonar instruments, known as echosounders, into the saildrones.
This fishfinder technology detects the presence of fish using sound.
Echosounders send sound pulses into the water and measure how much of this energy echoes back from fish.
From this, scientists are able to make an estimate of the population of fish below.
Scientists from the Alaska Fisheries Science Center worked with Saildrone, the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, and Kongsberg to develop this technology.

The technology is great at detecting fish.
But, it is less effective at differentiating among species and fish sizes.
That is why during standard acoustic-trawl surveys on research vessels, scientists also use a net to collect a sample of fish.
From this, they are able to confirm the species, as well as the weight, length, and sex of individual fish.

Stock assessment scientists use these data together with other data collected from commercial fishing vessels to estimate fish population size each year.

De Robertis and colleagues have spent the past several years testing and validating this technology. They conducted side-by-side comparisons with a NOAA research vessel.
They found that the saildrone-mounted echosounders produced equivalent acoustic measurements of pollock to NOAA’s fisheries survey vessels.

“In this part of the Bering Sea, pollock are by far the dominant midwater fish species.
So, we are confident of getting a useful measure of pollock abundance from the echosounder, even if we can’t directly sample fish.
Acoustic-only measurements from ships are already used to inform fisheries management, and we plan to do the same thing with the saildrones,” said De Robertis.

The saildrones are also equipped with solar-powered instruments to measure oceanographic and meteorological conditions.
Wind, solar radiation, surface temperature, and salinity measurements will be made along the way.

Planned Saildrone survey transects.
The colors indicate the tracks of different Saildrones.
Image credit: NOAA Fisheries

Real-time Data to Inform Management Decisions

Throughout the survey, compressed summaries of the echosounder data and environmental conditions, and photos will be transmitted to shore via the saildrone’s satellite modem four times per hour.

With the real-time information, De Robertis and colleagues can monitor progress.
Using the satellite link, they will be able to adjust the course of the saildrones, if necessary.

Scientists at the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory will process the oceanographic and meteorological data in real time.
“We will make data available to weather forecast centers worldwide via the World Meteorological Organization's Global Telecommunication System so that the observations can be incorporated into weather predictions,” said Eugene Burger, associate director for Information Technology, Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory.

According to De Robertis what he once perceived as science fiction has become an operational reality.
A lot of progress has been made in just a few short years using unmanned surface vehicles and associated technologies for studying the marine environment.
“If you had asked me six years ago, when I first heard about this, I wouldn’t have thought it possible.
Now, I see it as a valuable tool for augmenting our standard research surveys.”

This is especially relevant this year.
Unmanned vessel surveys are helping scientists provide some key scientific data at a time when it will be difficult to collect the data any other way.

Links :

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Scientist's theory of climate's Titanic moment the 'tip of a mathematical iceberg'

photo : NASA

From The Guardian by Graham Readfearn

Formula for climate emergency shows if ‘reaction time is longer than intervention time left’ then ‘we have lost control’

When is an emergency really an emergency?

If you’re the captain of the Titanic, approaching a giant iceberg with the potential to sink your ship becomes an emergency only when you realise you might not have enough time to steer a safe course.

And so it is, says Prof Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, when it comes to the climate emergency.

Knowing how long societies have to react to pull the brake on the Earth’s climate and then how long it will take for the ship to slow down is the difference between a climate emergency and a manageable problem.

Rather than being something abstract and open to interpretation, Schellnhuber says the climate emergency is something with clear and calculable risks that you could put into a formula. And so he wrote one.

Emergency = R × U = p × D × τ / T

In a comment article in the journal Nature, Schellnhuber and colleagues explained that to understand the climate emergency we needed to quantify the relationship between risk (R) and urgency (U).

Borrowing from the insurance industry, the scientists define risk (R) as the probability of something happening (p) multiplied by damage (D).

For example, how likely is it that sea levels will rise by a metre and how much damage will that cause.

Urgency (U) is the time it takes you to react to an issue (τ) “divided by the intervention time left to avoid a bad outcome (T)”, they wrote.

Schellnhuber, of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, tells Guardian Australia the work on the formula was just the “tip of a mathematical iceberg” in defining the climate emergency.

“It can be illustrated by the Titanic disaster, but it applies to many severe risks where you can calculate the do-nothing/business-as-usual probability of a highly damaging event,” he says. “Yet there are options to avoid the disaster.

“In other words, this a control problem.”

There is a time lag between the rapid cuts to greenhouse gases and the climate system reacting. Knowing if you have enough time tells you if you’re in an emergency or not.

Schellnhuber used “standard risk analysis and control theory” to come up with the formula, and he was already putting numbers to it.

“As a matter of fact, the intervention time left for limiting global warming to less than 2C is about 30 [years] at best. The reaction time – time needed for full global decarbonisation - is at least 20 [years].”

As the scientists write in Nature, if the “reaction time is longer than the intervention time left” then “we have lost control”.

Schellnhuber says: “Beyond that critical point, only some sort of adaptation option is left, such as moving the Titanic passengers into rescue boats (if available).”

Earlier this month, Oxford Dictionaries announced “climate emergency” as the word of the year, defining it as “a situation in which urgent action is required to reduce or halt climate change and avoid potentially irreversible environmental damage resulting from it”.

One website tracking climate emergency declarations says 1,195 jurisdictions in 25 countries, representing 454 million people, have already voted on the emergency.

This week the European parliament joined them, as did Ballina shire council in northern New South Wales, the 76th local government authority in Australia to make the declaration.

Prof Will Steffen, of the Australian National University and the Stockholm Resilience Centre, and a co-author of the article, says: “Emergency can mean many things to many people. But there are some hard numbers behind why so many people are saying we are in a climate emergency.

“This formula sharpens our thinking. So we have 30 years to decarbonise and to stabilise our pressure on the climate system.”

In the Nature article, the scientists highlight nine “tipping points” that, if crossed, become almost impossible to stop. At least five are already “active”.

Some of them, like melting permafrost or forest degradation, can start to add more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, making the job of keeping global temperatures down even harder.

“There are a range of these intervention times left,” Steffen says. “How long do we have before [the Greenland ice sheet] goes? Maybe we have 20 to 25 years and then we might be committed to losing Greenland.

“But the time we have left to intervene to stabilise coral reefs, for example, is a lot less than 30 years.

“Our reaction time has to be fast and to decarbonise by 2050 we have to really move now. That’s the point of [Schellnhuber’s] maths.

“To err on the side of danger is a stupid thing to do.”

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

We hacked a ship

Stephan Gerling - Yacht Hacking from SatCOM to engine control
DEF CON 27 Hack the Sea Village

From The Digital Ship by Ewan Robinson, director of maritime communications and solutions provider Yangosat.
Yangosat is a maritime communications and solutions provider, helping shipowners and providers realise new systems and invigorate existing ones.

We hacked a ship.
The Owner is Liable.
Well, we hacked the communications system of the ship.
Technically we have been doing this for a few years.
This time we did it like a “bad guy” would.
We got into the vessel, belonging to a multinational company, and found out everything possible about the system, the setup, the manufacturers information.
This is a very specialised vessel that was alongside in the capitol city of a major European country, carrying out cargo discharge.
We could have broken the system so badly, the vessel would have been back to Sat-C and flag signals.
Any information going through that satcomm would have been able to be collected, checked and used.

As we are Ethical Hackers, we are obliged to act in certain ways.
One of them is that we have to tell everyone involved if we did something during testing.
We did.
Well, we tried to.
The Owners operators, when we finally managed to get someone in the overworked operations department to listen, didn’t care and ignored us.
The manufacturers didn’t even bother to respond.
All of the test was documented, peer reviewed and otherwise substantiated by trusted persons.
The lawyers are going to have a field day and be very happy.
Ship owners are not.

Owners and operators are being badly supported and advised by these super providers, who use third party engineers, or poorly trained engineers, and leave systems in an exposed state.
Equipment manufacturers and developers are so guilty of poor techniques and security that using “industry best practice” is a total contradiction.
Lawyers, P&I and Class are going to be so busy refusing claims in the event of a cyber incident, that the poor owners are not going to know where to turn.
Owners are forced into accepting sub-standard equipment.
This equipment cannot be made secure in its current format, and yet the manufacturers and developers, fail to update and secure them.
The providers supply this equipment, along with the bandwidth and engineers who install them, and then incorrectly configure and allow public access to them.
The Owner is still liable.

So how were they failed?
We have been presenting at various conferences over the last few years, highlighting how exposed we are as an industry to ‘hackers’ and bad actors.
It normally consisted of a prepared victim vessel, using a system that had been poorly configured by the provider, or the providers appointed/trained engineer, and accessing the equipment onboard, normally the antenna or satcomm system.
It’s a quick way to display to an audience just how much we are ‘displaying publicly’.
recently someone asked “what could someone actually do?”
A relevant question we thought, so we tested to see what we could actually do.
As a basic attack, an intruder could lock out all the users from accessing the equipment.
They could turn off the satcom, or prevent systems and users onboard gaining access to the internet or to systems onshore or stop onshore reaching the vessel.
OK, so this is annoying and disruptive, costing from a few hundreds to several tens or hundreds  of thousands if the charterer deems “off hire” status due to lack of communications.
Well, that’s quite expensive, potentially.

Live map of "hacked" shipping vessels VSAT systems (2017)
Some large shipping vessels are equipped with profoundly insecure VSAT systems, allowing crewmembers to send and receive messages and access the Internet during voyages and could allow an attacker to gain access, and disrupt communications.
The researcher who found the vulnerability computed a publicly available map of the vulnerable vessels on shodan...

But what can we learn from the systems we can get at?
A lot.
Given the amount of systems that are exposed to the internet, with poor configuration, it is relatively easy to find a ‘victim’, and to maximise the information gained by using the tools available and exposed by the simplest of mistakes.
Default admin passwords.
There is a need for it, but no excuse for it.
Service Providers, who manage several thousands of vessels, still use engineers who leave default admin usernames and passwords.
So, it’s a fault on one vessel, but it cant really hurt can it?
It can.
And it does.

Our target vessel was found.
That took 7 minutes to locate.
It belonged to a very large multinational corporation.
The default username and password was still in effect on the VSAT system.
Access was made to the administration area, so all usernames and passwords could be changed.
Also available was access to the system by FTP.
Even if this had not already been enabled, as we were in the Admin area, we could have enabled it.
This is where major security flaw #1 was found.
The FTP access gave access to the entire operating system of the device, not just the FTP area.
Major security flaw #2 was putting a text file in every folder with a map of the entire structure of the operating system.
This allowed for finding and copying the ‘hidden’ password file to our local machine.
It was actually encrypted.
2 hours later, it wasn’t.
So now we had all the manufacturers usernames and passwords.
Now we can access the publicly available machines where they have changed the default admin username and password, by using the manufacturers.
They have these so the engineers can always get in.
Great for business and support, not so for security.
The network connections listed in the antenna setup were then investigated.
The VSAT Modem was accessed, again using default connections on SSH, with publicly available usernames and passwords.
Command line access to the modem was achieved, allowing us to take control and alter the configuration.
In effect we could now control the communications in 2 different places.

Such systemic failures, at the developmental and operational level, are going to have huge issues when Cyber 2021 comes into force next year.
Class and P&I will be left wondering who to refuse claims and who to sue for negligence when there are events, while the operators are trusting the providers to implement correctly, and the manufacturers and developers are failing at such basic levels, they will likely be left with the legal responsibility in the first instance.
The lesson of life in todays marine communications environment?
Don’t trust what’s being given to you.
Unless you have had your own trusted IT check what’s gone before, why would you blindly trust a stranger with your vessels now?
The Owner is Liable.

Links :

Monday, June 1, 2020

Why Dubai's man-made islands are still empty

Almost twenty years ago, Dubai's islands were advertised
as some of the largest man-made island development projects in the world.

What went wrong?

Sunday, May 31, 2020


Tāura is a polynesian legend.
Tāura are animals, plants and minerals that are "allied" with humans, families, clans.
They are considered fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters.
The relationship with them is fraternal and respectful.
The last long shot was certainely one of the dive I've ever done.
I was so grateful to spend so much time with the mother and her baby.
I choosed this letterbox cause it has a "vintage" look and it reminds me some really good memories. It also has the aspect (like a POV) of what I see with my mask during the dive.

"ISANG MILYON" means one million in Filipino.
I clearly dont' know how many fishes I saw but maybe more than a million !
Some shots I took during incredible dives last year.
It was the first time I saw a sardine run.
This is how I tried to transpose what I felt in this edit.
The dynamic song really helped me to edit this insanity.
I chose the black and white grading to accentuate the graphic side and the movements of the shoal.