Thursday, May 8, 2008

New Ocean Current Discovered

New Ocean Current Discovered

ScienceDaily (May 2, 2008)
Scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology have discovered a new climate pattern called the North Pacific Gyre Oscillation. This new pattern explains, for the first time, changes in the water that are important in helping commercial fishermen understand fluctuations in the fish stock. They’re also finding that as the temperature of the Earth is warming, large fluctuations in these factors could help climatologists predict how the oceans will respond in a warmer world.

“We’ve been able to explain, for the first time, the changes in salinity, nutrients and chlorophyll that we see in the Northeast Pacific,” said Emanuele Di Lorenzo, assistant professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.

Since 1945, fishermen in the California current of the Pacific Ocean have been tracking temperature, salinity and nutrients, among other things, in the ocean to help them predict changes in fish populations like sardines and anchovies that are important for the industry. Studying this data, along with satellite images, Di Lorenzo discovered a pattern of current that he named the North Pacific Gyre Oscillation.

Recent satellite data suggest that this current is undergoing intensification as the temperature of the Earth has risen over the past few decades.

"Although the North Pacific Gyre Oscillation is part of a natural cycle of the climate system, we find evidence suggesting that its amplitude may increase as global warming progresses,” said Di Lorenzo.

If this is true, this newly found climate pattern mey help scientists predict how the ecosystem of the Pacific Ocean is likely to change if the world continues to warm, as predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The research appears in the April 30 edition of the journal Geophysical Research Letters.


Severe Cyclone Hits Burma

Tornadoes Happen. Be Prepared


Citizens are urged to be aware and be prepared for weather emergencies, particularly for tornado events.

If there is a tornado warning for any area in St. Mary’s County, the county’s Emergency Communications staff will activate the Fire & Rescue Sirens with a “Take Cover” signal for Tornado Warnings.

This signal lasts for 13 cycles and is significantly different from a fire or rescue call signal. While this system is tested on the first Saturday of every month at noon, it will also be tested this Saturday, May 10 at noon.

Please be aware of the monthly test and do not confuse it with an actual Tornado Warning.

Things you can do to prepare include:

• Familiarize yourself with the terms that are used to identify a tornado hazard.

• A tornado watch means a tornado is possible in your area. You should monitor NOAA Weather Radio local radio and television news outlets for the latest developments.

• A tornado warning is when a tornado is actually occurring; take shelter immediately.

• Determine in advance where you will take shelter in case of a tornado warning.

• Storm cellars or basements provide the best protection.

• If underground shelter is not available, go into an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.

• In a high-rise building, go to a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.

• Stay away from windows, doors and outside walls. Go to the center of the room. Stay away from corners because they attract debris.

• A vehicle, trailer or mobile home does not provide good protection. Plan to go quickly to a building with a strong foundation, if possible.

• If shelter is not available, lie flat in a ditch or other low-lying area. Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location.

• Plan to stay in the shelter location until the danger has passed.

• Get a kit of emergency supplies. Store it in your shelter location.


Google diving into 3D mapping of oceans

We've got Google Earth and Google Sky. Next up will be a map of the world below sea level--Google Ocean.

The company has assembled an advisory group of oceanography experts, and in December invited researchers from institutions around the world to the Mountain View, Calif., Googleplex. There, they discussed plans for creating a 3D oceanographic map, according to sources familiar with the matter.

The tool--for now called Google Ocean, the sources say, though that name could change--is expected to be similar to other 3D online mapping applications. People will be able to see the underwater topography, called bathymetry; search for particular spots or attractions; and navigate through the digital environment by zooming and panning. (The tool, however, is not to be confused with the "Google Ocean" project by France-based Magic Instinct Software that uses Google Earth as a visualization tool for marine data.)

"We hope that one of the outcomes of Google Ocean will be an understanding of how much remains to be explored."
--Stephen P. Miller, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Asked to comment on Google Ocean, a Google spokeswoman said the company had "nothing to announce right now."

Oceanography researchers, however, say such a tool would be incredibly useful.

"There is no real terrain or depth model for the ocean in Google Earth," said Tim Haverland, a geospatial application developer at the Fisheries Service of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). "You can't get in a submarine and in essence fly through the water and explore ocean canyons yet."

Google Ocean will feature a basic layer that shows the depth of the sea floor and will serve as a spatial framework for additional data, sources said, adding that Google plans to try to fill in some areas of the map with high-resolution images for more detail.

Additional data will be displayed as overlying layers that depict phenomena like weather patterns, currents, temperatures, shipwrecks, coral reefs, and algae blooms, much like the National Park Service and NASA provide additional data for Google Earth and Google Sky.

"Google will basically just provide the field and then everyone will come flocking to it," predicted Stephen P. Miller, head of the Geological Data Center at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. "There will be peer pressure to encourage people to get their data out there."

This is an image of a bathymetry map that shows the depth of the sea floor. It is based on sparse ship soundings and satellite altimeter measurements of subtle bumps and dips in the ocean surface which are produced by tiny variations in the pull of gravity.

(Credit: David Sandwell and Walter Smith/Scripps Institute of Oceanography)

While satellite imagery has the entire globe covered, as well as a good amount of known outer space, much less is known about the bodies of water that cover about 70 percent of the planet. Only a small percentage of the sea floor has been mapped in detail by sonar.

"It would take about 100 ship years to map the oceans at high resolution," said Dave Sandwell, a professor of geophysics at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Sandwell speculated that Google will get at least some of the basic sea floor data from Scripps' Predicted Depth Map. Created from ship sonar soundings and satellites, it infers the depth of the sea floor based on the tiny bumps and dips in the ocean's surface.

To bring more clarity to the sea floor, Sandwell and others said, Google will likely use high-resolution grids from oceanographic institutions showing the depths of select areas of the seas and paste them in. Data for those grids, which cover a very small portion of the sea floor, are created by ships using multibeam sonar.

One possible source for Google Ocean data are detailed "tiles" from multibeam and predicted topography compiled by the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO) of Columbia University. Tiles are high-resolution sun-shaded images as well as digital elevation models covering the entire global ocean that allow for interactivity similar to Google Earth, where you can get different views by zooming in and out and by tilting the planet's surface.

This screenshot shows an example of high-resolution imagery above and below sea level. The view is looking eastward at Monterey Bay on the California coast with the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the background. The continental slope is sculpted by submarine canyons with their numerous tributary gullies.

(Credit: GeoMapAppVG/Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University)

"Our application gets data from databases over the Internet without the user having to know the name of the database or how to connect to it. Google could talk to our databases," said William B. F. Ryan, an earth and environmental studies professor at Columbia's LDEO.

Ryan cautioned that "Google would have to put the tiles on their servers because their public of millions would bring the servers at Columbia University to their knees."

On top of the depth map, and in addition to the select high-resolution tiled areas, there will likely be various layers of specialized data from different sources. For example, NOAA already has made public visual information for Google Earth related to sea hotspots around coral reefs, Gulf of Mexico marine debris, surface temperatures and wave heights in the Great Lakes, and shipwrecks.

In addition to the "wow factor" Google Ocean will no doubt have for amateur oceanographers, marine enthusiasts, and anyone fascinated by the movie 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, the project has the potential to promote more collaboration and advance research.

"We hope that one of the outcomes of Google Ocean will be an understanding of how much remains to be explored," said Miller of Scripps. "We know far more about the surface of Mars from a few weeks of radar surveying in orbit than we know of the bottom of the ocean after two centuries."

The Guardian's at thier Finest!

Coast Guard Air Station Houston hoists 4 people to safety after their boat goes over the Colorado River dam in Bay City, TX.

NAMMA – National Maritime Day Seminar

The North American Maritime Ministry Association (NAMMA) is sponsoring the 2008 National Maritime Day Seminar – The Environmental Imperative: Accelerating Solutions – on Washington, DC on May 21. (5/5/08).