Apparently Dennis Quaid was wrong… the gulf stream is not slowing down as some climate change models (and over the top eco-adventure movies) predict. Apparently the belief this might happen is a victim of the age old measurement error. Initial measurements suggested the slow down. It turns out over a longer period of time, there is no slow down, just an awful lot of variability from year to year. Scientists are continuing to monitor the flow in attempt to collect more data to confirm these latest findings. On top of that, they hope to figure out what causes the variability, which in and of itself is rather puzzling.
As an aside, what I find fascinating is the sheer magnitude of these sorts of issues. We’re talking attempts to understand and predict phenomena on a global scale and time scales approaching geologic time. That’s a seriously challenging task and more power to all the scientists out there trying to tackle it head on!
Wired news is reporting that modern GPS sensors have be able to determine the Chilean city of Concepcion has been moved 10 feet to the west from the recent earthquake. Apparently this area is prime area for seismic activity due to its location over a subduction zone. The hope by researchers is to quickly get more GPS stations on the ground in that area so more precise movements can be detected.
On my twitter feed this morning, @geoparadigm tweeted this great link on tree hugger about Twenty-Two Maps That Will Change How You See The World. The maps are pretty impressive, although I’m not sure it will change how many of us in the geospatial community sees the world. Being tree hugger and all, most of them are environmental in nature. However the thing that most interested me was that the vast majority of the entries are actually interactive maps, not static maps. If you ask me, the fact that these world view changing maps are primarily interactive shows a whole new world in and of itself. Perhaps the greatest change is the need to move from the static to the dynamic in our maps themselves.
The data from NASA’s earth observation satellites are critical resources in many areas of research, and it’s important to highlight the achievements of the Earth Observation System program, a multi-national and multi-agency partnership including NASA, JPL, and JAXA. The goal of the EOS program has been to provide comprehensive data sets on Earth’s climate, land cover, clouds, oceans, atmospheric conditions and other variables to help researchers and scholars better understand our planet.
Today marks the tenth anniversary of the launch of NASA’s flagship EOS satellite, Terra, which carries ASTER, MISR, MODIS, MOPITT, and CERES sensors and continues to provide us with amazing data more than four years after its projected six-year mission.
The Terra mission website has a nice retrospective gallery of images from Terra’s first ten years, and here’s hoping it can keep providing us with great data for another ten years!
The British Geological Survey, the world’s oldest national geological survey, is offering GEOSCIENCE, a free service for sharing geospatial information including maps, 3D maps, and photographs. The GEOSCENIC is really cool because it is geological photos from their archives that can be used free of charge for non-commercial purposes. They have a make-a-map function for students and teachers. I think that overall this site would make a great addition to history, geography, geology, or science lesson plans. I’m making a bunch of really awesome screen savers.
Who would have thought a Dennis Quaid movie could be right? (well, except for Enemy Mine, which I maintain is simply to awesome to not come true some day) Geology researchers are now saying that the last ice age could have happened in an extremely short period of time, not the previously thought decade or so. This is based upon some research done in Ireland on lake bed. I’m not going to pretend I know the first thing about this stuff, but it is interesting to think that our climate is much more fragile than we thought. Plus, anything that allows me to reference Enemy Mine I’m gonna post toot-sweet.
The BBC has a news article and video about how GPS is being used in Northumberland to record the locations of 69 ‘hairy northern wood ant” nests in advance of a major clearing. The goal is to preserve the ant nests as the modern conifers are cleared to allow for native species to reclaim the region. While the plan is sound, my curiosity is based on the long term results after the clearing. As with any planned effort, the ‘as-builts’ always have a certain degree of ‘oops’ and ‘I thought it was over there’ even with significant technologies.
With the recent devastating earthquakes in the Pacific region, the Great California ShakeOut is a very timely event. On October 15th, at 10:15am local time, millions of Californians are going to be participating in the world’s largest earthquake drill. Although we are powerless to stop natural disasters like earthquakes from happening, knowing what to do and how you can help yourself and others in such as disaster can be crucial.
On the ShakeOut website, there are lots of resources to give you more information about the event, including an interactive map. According the site today, some 5.8 million participants have already registered, from individuals to schools and universities, local governments and other groups. So, if you’re a resident of California, make sure you head over to the ShakeOut website and register if you’d like to participate or just look over the resources and information on the site. Even if you’re not a Californian, there’s lots of good advice and important information on earthquakes and how to prepare.
When I sat down with the BBC News site today I was struck by the number of articles that are related to attempts to create green energy or cut greenhouse gas emissions. I will start off with the one that I found most striking, Hatoyama’s pledge to cut Japan’s emissions by 25% (1990 to 2020). This progressive goal clearly outstrips the 8% that Prime Minister Aso sought, though the 25% is connected to other developed countries pledging similar cuts. With the EU offering a similar cut will the US and other countries step-up to support similar pledges? At the same time the proposed UN climate deal to be agreed on in an upcoming summit in Copenhagen could be hanging ‘in the balance‘.
A couple of technical articles focused on the use of floating wind turbines to allow for offshore wind power farms to be created, and an initial deal signed for the construction of the largest solar array in the world in China by 2019.
However, despite the policy discussions and technical movements afoot, another article suggests that our broadening knowledge of environmental issues is not necessarily translating to a reduced global eco-footprint. Just as with Japan and the EU’s attempts to generate a global movement, we need to support grassroot movements at a broad level as well. Now if there was just a bus that I could take to work…
In case you haven’t seen this around, BoingBoing.net has a nice link round up for NASA’s photos of the current California fires as seen from space. The smoke cloud is impressive in the most depressing way possible. The BoingBoing link has links to NASA’s original image and large version, a NYT piece on the fires featuring the image, and some detailed information about the fires from the JPL at NASA.