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  • richardmitnick 7:24 am on May 26, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "NOAA selects UW to host new regional institute for climate ocean and ecosystem research", , Earth Observation,   

    From University of Washington: “NOAA selects UW to host new, regional institute for climate, ocean and ecosystem research” 

    From University of Washington

    May 21, 2020

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced May 20 that it has selected the University of Washington to host NOAA’s Cooperative Institute for Climate, Ocean and Ecosystem Studies.

    The new regional consortium will include faculty and staff at the UW, the University of Alaska Fairbanks and Oregon State University. Members will contribute expertise, research capacity, technological development, help train the next generation of NOAA scientists, and conduct public education and outreach.

    The selection comes with an award of up to $300 million over five years, with the potential for renewal for another five years based on successful performance.

    The purpose of the cooperative institute is to facilitate and conduct collaborative, multidisciplinary research to support NOAA’s mission; educate and prepare the next generation of scientists to be technically skilled, environmentally literate and reflect the national diversity; and engage and educate the citizenry of the Pacific Northwest, Alaska and the nation about human-caused impacts on ecosystem health and socioeconomic sustainability.

    The new cooperative institute will address some of the major research themes that have been the focus of NOAA’s previous cooperative institute hosted by UW, the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean, including climate and ocean changes and impacts, and will expand to include new research areas and involve additional universities.

    “We’re excited to build on JISAO’s research and education traditions through our regional research consortium,” said director John Horne, professor in the UW School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences. “The expanded research and education portfolios will enable us to better serve NOAA’s mission.”

    The center’s members will work alongside scientists at NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, NOAA Fisheries Alaska Fisheries Science Center and Northwest Fisheries Science Center, all based in Seattle.

    “The challenges we face related to climate, oceans, and coastal ecosystems require ongoing collaboration that crosses sectoral, disciplinary and geographic boundaries,” said Lisa J. Graumlich, Dean of the College of the Environment and Mary Laird Wood Professor at UW. “This ongoing partnership with NOAA, UAF and OSU allows us to collaborate at a scale that we have never seen before in the Pacific Northwest. NOAA’s investment leverages our incredible federal and university resources to understand and confront problems that no one institution could tackle alone.”

    “This is a big win for the University of Washington,” said U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.). “Since 1977, the UW has known what we all know now: that a healthy environment supports a robust ocean economy. Now, at a time when research dollars are critical, NOAA is nearly tripling its investment in the world-class ocean science conducted at the UW. The new Cooperative Institute for Climate, Ocean, and Ecosystem Studies will expand on the UW’s legacy of success by conducting new research into the impacts of climate and ocean variability, environmental chemistry and ocean carbon, and changing marine ecosystems.”

    “The selection of UW to lead NOAA’s new Cooperative Institute for Climate, Ocean, and Ecosystem Studies is great news for our region as we work to combat climate change,” added Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Port Angeles. “With our communities on the front lines of the climate crisis, having more federal dollars invested in Washington state and more expertise at our research institutions will help our entire region take steps to mitigate the impacts, build more resilient communities, and continue to lead the way.”

    NOAA supports 17 cooperative institutes consisting of 57 universities and research institutions in 23 states and the District of Columbia. These research institutions provide educational programs that promote student and postdoctoral scientist involvement in NOAA-funded research.

    “We are pleased to announce that the University of Washington will host our new Cooperative Institute for Climate, Ocean and Ecosystem Studies,” said Craig McLean, assistant NOAA administrator for Oceanic and Atmospheric Research. “This institute will help NOAA achieve our mission to better the ocean and atmosphere, which depends on research, data and information to make sound decisions for healthy ecosystems, communities and a strong blue economy.”

    For more information, contact Horne at jhorne@uw.edu or 206-221-6890; Jed Thompson, JISAO communications, at jedthom@uw.edu; and Monica Allen, NOAA Communications, at 202-379-6693 or monica.allen@noaa.gov.

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    u-washington-campus
    The University of Washington is one of the world’s preeminent public universities. Our impact on individuals, on our region, and on the world is profound — whether we are launching young people into a boundless future or confronting the grand challenges of our time through undaunted research and scholarship. Ranked number 10 in the world in Shanghai Jiao Tong University rankings and educating more than 54,000 students annually, our students and faculty work together to turn ideas into impact and in the process transform lives and our world. For more about our impact on the world, every day.
    So what defines us —the students, faculty and community members at the University of Washington? Above all, it’s our belief in possibility and our unshakable optimism. It’s a connection to others, both near and far. It’s a hunger that pushes us to tackle challenges and pursue progress. It’s the conviction that together we can create a world of good. Join us on the journey.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:12 am on May 23, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Atacama minerals", , Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission, Earth Observation,   

    From European Space Agency – United Space in Europe: “Atacama minerals” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    From European Space Agency – United Space in Europe

    1

    The Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission takes us over part of Chile’s Atacama Desert, which is bound on the west by the Pacific and on the east by the Andes. The Atacama is considered one of the driest places on Earth – there are some parts of the desert where rainfall has never been recorded.

    ESA/Sentinel 2

    In this image, captured on 26 June 2019, a specific area in the Tarapacá Region, in northern Chile, is featured – where some of the largest caliche deposits can be found. It is here where nitrates, lithium, potassium and iodine are mined.

    Iodine, for example, is extracted in a process called heap leaching – which is widely used in modern large-scale mining operations. Leach piles are visible as rectangular shapes dotted around the image, although the exact reason for the different shades of colour is uncertain. Some leach piles could appear lighter or darker owing to the varying water content or soil type concentration.

    The geometric shapes in the right are large evaporation ponds. Brine is pumped to the surface through a network of wells into the shallow ponds. The dry and windy climate enhances the evaporation of the water and leaves concentrated salts behind for the extraction of lithium – which is used in the manufacturing of batteries.

    The bright, turquoise colours of the evaporation ponds are in stark contrast with the surrounding desert landscape – making them easily identifiable from space. Distinctive black lines visible in the image are roads that connect to the various construction sites.

    Copernicus Sentinel-2 is a two-satellite mission to supply the coverage and data delivery needed for Europe’s Copernicus programme. This false-colour image was processed by selecting spectral bands that can be used for classifying geological features.

    Video;

    Earth from Space: Atacama minerals

    This image is also featured on the Earth from Space video programme.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 8:33 am on May 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Snow mass estimates now more reliable", , Earth Observation, ESA’s Climate Change Initiative, , GlobSnow-Global Snow Monitoring for Climate Research   

    From European Space Agency – United Space in Europe: “Snow mass estimates now more reliable” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    From European Space Agency – United Space in Europe

    5.21.20

    Estimating the amount of seasonal snow is important for understanding the water cycle and Earth’s climate system, but establishing a clear and coherent picture of change has proven difficult. New research from ESA’s Climate Change Initiative has helped to produce the first reliable estimate of snow mass change and has helped to identify different continental trends.

    Warming surface temperatures are known to have driven substantial reductions in the extent and duration of northern hemisphere snow cover. Equally important, but much less well understood is snow mass – the amount of water held in the snow pack – and how it has changed over time.

    Millions of people rely on snow meltwaters for power, irrigation and drinking water. More accurate snow mass information would not only help to assess the availability of freshwater resources and identify flood risk, but also enable the better assessment of the role seasonal snow plays in the climate system.

    In a new paper, published in Nature, researchers from the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI) and the Environment and Climate Change Canada, working as part of ESA’s Climate Change Initiative, have reliably estimated the amount of annual snow mass and changes in snow cover in the northern hemisphere between 1980 and 2018. Their research shows that snow mass has remained the same in Eurasia and has decreased in North America, but the extent of snow cover has decreased in both regions.

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    Changes in snow mass between 1980 and 2018.
    Changes in snow mass between 1980 and 2018. In areas A-E, large regional changes in the amount of snow are observed. In the blue areas (A, E) the snow mass has decreased, in the red areas (B, C, D) the snow mass has increased. The scale is the change in the water value of snow in millimetres per 10 years (the water value indicates how high a column of water the snow corresponds to when melted).

    The combined 39-year snow mass climate data record is based on passive microwave satellite observations combined with ground-based snow depth measurements. This allowed the team to narrow the annual maximum snow mass for the northern hemisphere to 3062 gigatonnes between 1980-2018, with the peak snow mass occurring in March, while previous estimates ranged from 2500-4200 gigatonnes.

    The team used this method, which corrects any anomalies in the data, and compared them to estimates from the Global Snow Monitoring for Climate Research, also known as GlobSnow, with three independent estimates of snow mass.

    Jouni Pulliainen, the paper’s lead author and Research Professor at FMI, says, “The method can be used to combine different observations and it provides more accurate information about the amount of snow than ever before. The previous considerable uncertainty of 33% in the amount of snow has decreased to 7.4%.”

    The research team found little reduction in northern hemisphere snow mass over the four decades of satellite observations when looking at the annual maximum amount of snow at the turn of February-March.

    However, the more reliable estimates enabled the team to identify different continental trends. For example, snow mass decreased by 46 gigatonnes per decade across North America. This was not reflected in Eurasia, but high regional variability was observed.

    2
    Reduction of uncertainty in northern hemisphere seasonal snow mass.
    Using a method developed by researchers at the Finnish Meteorological Institute, various snow observations can be combined. The method reduces the error margins of the observations from 33% to 7%.

    Jouni continues, “In the past, estimates of global and regional snowfall trends have only been indicative. The results show that the amount of rainfall has increased in the northern regions, especially in the northern parts of Asia.”

    In northern areas, where rainfall generally turns to snow in winter, the snow mass has remained the same or even increased. In the southern parts, where in winter rainfall comes down as water rather than snow, both the extent of the snow cover and the snow mass have decreased.

    Snow mass data have the potential to help scientists analyse and improve the reliability of models used to predict future change, however, previous attempts to estimate the amount of snow mass in northern latitudes are so varied that it is not possible to judge if changes have occurred with sufficient confidence.

    The project team aims to continue developing the GlobSnow algorithm, as part of the ESA’s Climate Change Initiative – a research and development programme that merges and calibrates measurements from multiple satellite missions to generate a global time-series.

    In November 2019, ESA Member States approved a major expansion of the Copernicus Sentinel fleet of satellite missions including CIMR – the Copernicus Imaging Microwave Radiometer candidate mission. To be launched no earlier than 2025, this multi-frequency microwave radiometer will provide high spatial resolution and high-fidelity measurements to continue and extent snow extent and mass records observation records into the future.

    Co-author and member of the ESA CIMR Mission Advisory Group, Kari Luojus, adds, “The FMI team is already working to utilise the upcoming CIMR data for snow mass estimation, to further extend the long-term dataset.”

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 10:55 am on May 21, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "There’s a Russian Volcano That Erupts Diamonds", , , Earth Observation, Tolbachik volcano on the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia   

    From Discover Magazine: “There’s a Russian Volcano That Erupts Diamonds” 

    DiscoverMag

    From Discover Magazine

    May 12, 2020
    Erik Klemetti

    Researchers looking at the 2012-13 eruption from Russia’s Tolbachik found tiny diamonds, but where are they from?

    1
    Tolbachik in Russia, with the cones from the 2012-13 eruption in the middle foreground. (Credit: kuhnmi/Flickr)

    Diamonds are remarkable. Most form deep within Earth, 62 miles or more beneath our feet and are brought to the surface in powerful explosive eruptions. Yet researchers looking at the 2012-13 eruption of Tolbachik on the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia found tiny diamonds in the volcanic debris. This was not one of those powerful explosions but a massive series of lava flows. So why were there diamonds showing up unexpectedly?

    Diamonds from the Deep

    The “easiest” way to form diamonds is taking carbon and exposing it to the immense pressure within Earth’s mantle. Then they get coughed up with other chunks of rock from the mantle in these giant explosive eruptions called kimberlites. They’re named after one of the world’s most famous and productive diamond mines in Kimberley, South Africa. The places where we find most diamonds today are from the rocks created by these eruptions, found in places like northern Canada and Arkansas. Sometimes, glaciers or rivers have moved the diamonds from their sources, but they can be traced back to their original volcano sources.

    There hasn’t a kimberlite eruption in recent human history. The most recent known kimberlite eruption might have happened 10,000 to 20,000 years ago in Tanzania, and that is controversial. The last confirmed kimberlite erupted 30 million years ago in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Both of those places (and the locations of most kimberlite eruptions) are old continental areas called “cratons,” away from active tectonic zones like volcanic arcs.

    So, what are diamonds doing in Kamchatka? The easternmost peninsula in Russia is a subduction zone, where the Pacific plate is sliding under Eurasia. There is a string of active volcanoes starting in Japan and running north into Kamchatka. In Russia, these include highly active volcanoes like Sheveluch, Klyuchevskoi and Bezymianny. So, not really the types of places we would normally expect to find those eruptions that bring diamonds up from the mantle.

    Yet, Erik Galimov and his colleagues found just that at Tolbachik. This Russian volcano produced one of the largest lava flow eruptions of the 21st century (so far), dumping over 1/10 of a cubic mile of lava. There were some explosions as part of the eruption, producing lava fountains that reached hundreds of meters upwards.

    From Russia, With Carbon

    A recent paper by Galimov and others in American Mineralogist details the tiny diamonds they found in lavas from Tolbachik. These crystals are less an a 0.03 inches and mostly found in the rocks made during the lava fountain phase of the eruption. So, how did these mysterious diamonds form?

    Normally, diamonds would be part of a foreign rock brought up in a kimberlite eruption. Geologists call these xenoliths, and the diamonds themselves are xenocrysts. They aren’t really related to the magma erupting, but they came along for the ride. However, these Tolbachik diamonds don’t seem to be from xenoliths because there isn’t much other evidence for these chunks of foreign debris in 2012-13 lava.

    2
    Microdiamonds found in lava from the 2012-13 eruption at Tolbachik. “Mkm” scale is micrometer (0.00003 inch). (Credit: Galimov et al. 2020 American Mineralogist)

    If they didn’t come from deep in the mantle, what are their sources? Galimov and others decided to look at the composition of the diamonds. Surprisingly enough, the composition of impurities in the diamonds in elements like nitrogen, fluorine, chlorine and silicon matched the composition of the volcanic gases from Tolbachik. This suggested that they may actually have been forming from the gases being released during the eruption.

    However, there was one more potential source for these diamonds: people! Could the microdiamonds actually just be contamination from drilling or the sampling instruments themselves? Most diamonds used in industry are synthetic and would have a specific nitrogen isotopic composition. Galimov and others looked at the nitrogen isotope composition of the Tolbachik diamonds and, sure enough, they weren’t synthetic. These diamonds formed naturally from the volcanic gases being released from the lava. [Author’s note: I’ve had a brief discussion with Dr. Ryan Ickert (Purdue University) and it seems like it might not be as simple at the paper portrays. It doesn’t change the idea that these diamonds are likely crystallized from the volcanic gases at Tolbachik, but the isotope argument might be messier.]

    This type of crystallization, directly from a gas, isn’t a new observation. In some rhyolite eruptions, the hot gases that get released after a massive explosive eruption form minerals like topaz. These diamonds at Tolbachik likely formed the same way, where hot volcanic gases laden in carbon dioxide and other elements cooled in bubbles and rapidly crystallized minerals like diamonds.

    Now, don’t rush out to Kamchatka. You’re not going to get rich from these tiny diamonds from Tolbachik. However, these little crystals show just how bizarre volcanic activity can be, where diamonds can form directly from a gas, high pressure not needed.

    See the full article here .

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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

     
  • richardmitnick 9:09 am on May 21, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Swarm probes weakening of Earth’s magnetic field", , Earth Observation, Earth’s magnetic field is vital to life on our planet., , Over the last 200 years the magnetic field has lost around 9% of its strength on a global average., The South Atlantic Anomaly refers to an area where our protective shield is weak.   

    From European Space Agency – United Space in Europe: “Swarm probes weakening of Earth’s magnetic field” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    From European Space Agency – United Space in Europe

    5.20.20

    1
    Swarm constellation
    The magnetic field is thought to be largely generated by an ocean of superheated, swirling liquid iron that makes up Earth’s the outer core 3000 km under our feet. Acting like the spinning conductor in a bicycle dynamo, it generates electrical currents and thus the continuously changing electromagnetic field. Other sources of magnetism come from minerals in Earth’s mantle and crust, while the ionosphere, magnetosphere and oceans also play a role. ESA’s constellation of three Swarm satellites is designed to identify and measure precisely these different magnetic signals. This will lead to new insight into many natural processes, from those occurring deep inside the planet, to weather in space caused by solar activity.


    South Atlantic Anomaly impact radiation
    The South Atlantic Anomaly refers to an area where our protective shield is weak. White dots on the map indicate individual events when Swarm instruments registered the impact of radiation from April 2014 to August 2019. The background is the magnetic field strength at the satellite altitude of 450 km.

    In an area stretching from Africa to South America, Earth’s magnetic field is gradually weakening. This strange behaviour has geophysicists puzzled and is causing technical disturbances in satellites orbiting Earth. Scientists are using data from ESA’s Swarm constellation to improve our understanding of this area known as the ‘South Atlantic Anomaly.’

    Earth’s magnetic field is vital to life on our planet. It is a complex and dynamic force that protects us from cosmic radiation and charged particles from the Sun. The magnetic field is largely generated by an ocean of superheated, swirling liquid iron that makes up the outer core around 3000 km beneath our feet. Acting as a spinning conductor in a bicycle dynamo, it creates electrical currents, which in turn, generate our continuously changing electromagnetic field.

    This field is far from static and varies both in strength and direction. For example, recent studies [Nature Geoscience] have shown that the position of the north magnetic pole is changing rapidly.

    Over the last 200 years, the magnetic field has lost around 9% of its strength on a global average. A large region of reduced magnetic intensity has developed between Africa and South America and is known as the South Atlantic Anomaly.

    From 1970 to 2020, the minimum field strength in this area has dropped from around 24 000 nanoteslas to 22 000, while at the same time the area of the anomaly has grown and moved westward at a pace of around 20 km per year. Over the past five years, a second centre of minimum intensity has emerged southwest of Africa – indicating that the South Atlantic Anomaly could split up into two separate cells.

    Earth’s magnetic field is often visualised as a powerful dipolar bar magnet at the centre of the planet, tilted at around 11° to the axis of rotation. However, the growth of the South Atlantic Anomaly indicates that the processes involved in generating the field are far more complex. Simple dipolar models are unable to account for the recent development of the second minimum.

    Scientists from the Swarm Data, Innovation and Science Cluster (DISC) are using data from ESA’s Swarm satellite constellation to better understand this anomaly. Swarm satellites are designed to identify and precisely measure the different magnetic signals that make up Earth’s magnetic field.

    Jürgen Matzka, from the German Research Centre for Geosciences, says, “The new, eastern minimum of the South Atlantic Anomaly has appeared over the last decade and in recent years is developing vigorously. We are very lucky to have the Swarm satellites in orbit to investigate the development of the South Atlantic Anomaly. The challenge now is to understand the processes in Earth’s core driving these changes.”

    It has been speculated whether the current weakening of the field is a sign that Earth is heading for an eminent pole reversal – in which the north and south magnetic poles switch places. Such events have occurred many times throughout the planet’s history and even though we are long overdue by the average rate at which these reversals take place (roughly every 250 000 years), the intensity dip in the South Atlantic occurring now is well within what is considered normal levels of fluctuations.

    At surface level, the South Atlantic Anomaly presents no cause for alarm. However, satellites and other spacecraft flying through the area are more likely to experience technical malfunctions as the magnetic field is weaker in this region, so charged particles can penetrate the altitudes of low-Earth orbit satellites.

    The mystery of the origin of the South Atlantic Anomaly has yet to be solved. However, one thing is certain: magnetic field observations from Swarm are providing exciting new insights into the scarcely understood processes of Earth’s interior.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 8:49 am on May 21, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Milk-carton-sized HyperScout making hyperspectral Earth views", , Earth Observation, ESA’s GomX-4B CubeSat, , HyperScout imager   

    From European Space Agency – United Space in Europe: “Milk-carton-sized HyperScout making hyperspectral Earth views” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    From European Space Agency – United Space in Europe

    5.20.20

    1
    This cloud-free image of the northern Netherlands during lockdown comes from a camera the size of a milk carton, aboard a satellite the size of a shoebox.

    The HyperScout imager on ESA’s GomX-4B CubeSat combines multiple image frames like these to produce hyperspectral views of its target, combining more colours than the human eye can perceive to yield much richer environmental information than standard optical satellite acquisitions.

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    GomX-4 pair
    -ESA’s biggest small satellite yet: the GomX-4B six-unit CubeSat will demonstrate miniaturised technologies, preparing the way for future operational nanosatellite constellations.
    -GomX-4B is double the size of ESA’s first technology CubeSat, GomX-3, which was released from the International Space Station in 2015.
    -The contract with Danish CubeSat specialist GomSpace is supported through the In-Orbit Demonstration element of ESA’s General Support Technology Programme, focused on readying new products for space and the marketplace.
    GomX-4B will be launched and flown together with GomX-4A on 2 February 2018, designed by GomSpace for the Danish Ministry of Defence under a separate contract.
    -The two CubeSats will stay linked through a new version of the software-defined radio demonstrated on GomX-3, while their separation on their shared orbit will be controlled up to a maximum 4500 km.
    -Such intersatellite links will allow future CubeSat constellations to relay data quickly to users on the ground. The same radio system will also be used for rapid payload data downloads to Earth.

    “HyperScout reached orbit with GomX-4B back in February 2018, and acquired its first image a little over two years ago,” explains project manager Marco Esposito of Netherlands-based cosine Measurement Systems, the company that designed and built HyperScout in collaboration with ESA.

    3
    HyperScout

    “We are pleased that our compact but powerful instrument is still operating well, demonstrating its reliability. Acquiring up to 45 visible and near-infrared spectral bands, HyperScout is well suited to monitor vegetation and crop health, water quality and land cover change detection in general. Scientists have been eager to make use of its data, with scientific papers on the way.”

    HyperScout’s April 2020 image of its Dutch homeland demonstrates its wide footprint, measuring approximately 200 x 150 km. This is possible from such a small imager thanks to years of ESA-led research, to shrink down a complex assemblage of precisely curved ‘three-mirror anastigmat’ mirrors to a sufficiently small scale.

    “Each line making up a HyperScout image is acquired in a different spectral band,” explains ESA optical engineer Alessandro Zuccaro Marchi. “The imager takes advantage of the onward orbital motion of its host CubeSat so that these lines overlap, to build up a complete hyperspectral ‘image cube’.”

    4
    Hyperspectral imaging
    HyperScout is a miniaturised instrument that captures images in 45 different wavelength bands, making it possible to determine the composition of the Earth’s surface. This false-colour overlay shows Railroad Valley in California, USA, with analysis ready data that the HyperScout imager produced aboard the GomX-4B CubeSat, ready to be interpreted by users on the ground.

    Marco Esposito adds: “The resulting hyperspectral image is very large in terms of data volume, so HyperScout is able to perform its own onboard image processing and data compression.

    “This means less data need to be downlinked to the ground, to stay within the limited bandwidth of such small satellite platforms. Data users, for instance, might review a sample image, then decide to focus only on a smaller area of interest, such as a vegetated regions. HyperScout can then customise its hyperspectral data for downlink accordingly.”

    Luca Maresi, Head of ESA’s Optics section, explains that “even though HyperScout is a tiny instrument, its complexity is equal to much larger systems. It was developed by an industrial consortium led by cosine, comprising VITO in Belgium, S&T in the Netherlands, and Technical University of Delft.

    “The consortium worked in close collaboration to provide the HyperScout with the capabilities to perform real-time on-board data processing, a task that usually requires days of computation by powerful on-ground computers.”

    HyperScout’s development was supported through ESA’s General Support Technology Programme (GSTP), advancing promising technology for space, which also found it an early flight opportunity aboard ESA technology CubeSat GomX-4B developed by GomSpace in Denmark.

    “The product has already found commercial success in the international marketplace,” adds Marco, “and an enhanced version, Hyperscout2, developed with the ESA Earth Observation Φ department, is due to be launched this summer as part of Spain’s FSSCat mission, aboard ESA’s inaugural Vega Small Spacecraft Mission Service launch.”

    The enhanced HyperScout 2 offers even more processing performance through the use of the Movidius processing board, based on Intel Ireland’s new Myriad 2 artificial intelligence chip, developed within the frame of GSTP’s Fly element. HyperScout 2 also features an additional thermal infrared channel, developed through cooperation with the Φ department and the Φ-lab of ESA’s Earth Observation Programme.

    Marco notes: “One of the mission goals is to see the results of this extra processing power and capability in terms of power efficiency.”

    HyperScout imagery has also been cross-calibrated with multispectral views from the full-sized Copernicus Sentinel-2 satellite as part of the ESA ɸ-lab MATCH activity.

    ESA/Sentinel 2

    HyperScout with its wide field view and numerous spectral bands offers complementary information to such larger satellites.

    A small constellation of satellites with HyperScout would provide hourly revisits of areas of interest, such as densely populated regions, offering a novel service at a cost that no other satellite can match.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 8:02 am on May 19, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Antarctic sea-ice models improve for the next IPCC UW study shows", , , Earth Observation,   

    From University of Washington: “Antarctic sea-ice models improve for the next IPCC, UW study shows” 

    From University of Washington

    1

    May 14, 2020

    The world of climate modeling is complex, requiring an enormous amount of coordination and collaboration to produce. Models feed on mountains of different inputs to run simulations of what a future world might look like, and can be so big — in some cases, lines of code in the millions — they take days or weeks to run. Building these models can be challenging, but getting them right is critical for us to see where climate change is taking us, and importantly, what we might do about it.

    2
    Lettie Roach in her office. Credit Dave Allen

    The models are a powerful tool, but they are only as good as the parameters and assumptions they are built on. Those need to be scrutinized and validated by scientists—and that’s where Lettie Roach, a postdoctoral researcher in Atmospheric Sciences at UW, and her collaborators come in. Their recent publication in Geophysical Research Letters evaluates 40 recent climate models focusing on sea ice, the relatively thin layer of ice that forms on the surface of the ocean, around Antarctica, and was coordinated and produced to inform the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

    “I am really fascinated by Antarctic sea ice, which the models have struggled more with than Arctic sea ice,” says Roach. “Not as many people are living near the Antarctic and there haven’t been as many measurements made in the Antarctic, making it hard to understand the recent changes in sea ice that we’ve observed through satellites.”

    Roach and her colleagues found that all models project decreases in the aerial coverage of Antarctic sea ice over the 21st century under different greenhouse gas emission scenarios, but the amount of sea ice loss varies considerably between the lowest emission scenario and the highest.

    3
    A thin layer of Antarctic sea ice. Credit Lettie Roach.

    The models they examined are known as coupled climate models, meaning they incorporate atmospheric, ocean, terrestrial and sea ice models to project what the future holds for our climate system. We are all familiar with the story of soon-to-be ice-free summers in the Arctic and the implications that may have on global trade. But what’s driving change around Antarctic sea ice and what’s expected in the future is less clear. Her team’s assessment of Antarctic sea ice in the new climate models is among the first.

    “This project arose from a couple of workshops that were polar climate centered, but no one was leading an Antarctic sea ice group,” said Roach. “I put my hand up and said I would do it. The opportunity to lead something like this was fun, and I’m grateful to collaborators across many institutions for co-creating this work.”

    The Antarctic is characterized by extremes. The highest winds, largest glaciers and fastest ocean currents are all found there, and getting a handle on Antarctic sea ice, which annually grows and shrinks six-fold, is critically important. To put that into perspective, that area is roughly the size of Russia. The icy parts of our planet — known as the cryosphere — have an enormous effect on regulating the global climate. By improving the simulation of Antarctic sea ice in models, scientists can increase their understanding of the climate system globally and how it will change over time. Better sea ice models also shed light on dynamics at play in the Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica, which is a major component of our southern hemisphere.

    “The previous generation of models was released around 2012,” says Roach. “We’ve been looking at all the new models released, and we are seeing improvements overall. The new simulations compare better to observations than we have seen before. There is a tightening up of model projections between this generation and the previous, and that is very good news.”

    4
    Researchers venture out on the sea ice. Credit Lettie Roach

    This process, where scientists critically evaluate climate models, has long been part of the IPCC approach. Scientists verify those model assumptions make sense, compare predictions to see if they align with observations from the field and make sure the highest quality data were used to underpin model performance. Asking these questions helps fine-tune models to perform at their best. These assessments have occurred for decades and continue to become more sophisticated as the models themselves become more sophisticated and powerful— and that’s great news as they continue to play an essential role in helping us all make sense of the world around us and how it is changing.

    The scientific community works together very cohesively to develop climate projections for the IPCC reports. “The international effort that goes into developing models and sharing their output is hugely collaborative,” says Roach. “There’s a ton of work that goes into these models. I think they are the best tools we have to help us to understand climate change and what will happen in the future, and to provide good information for the policymakers to make decisions on.”

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    The University of Washington is one of the world’s preeminent public universities. Our impact on individuals, on our region, and on the world is profound — whether we are launching young people into a boundless future or confronting the grand challenges of our time through undaunted research and scholarship. Ranked number 10 in the world in Shanghai Jiao Tong University rankings and educating more than 54,000 students annually, our students and faculty work together to turn ideas into impact and in the process transform lives and our world. For more about our impact on the world, every day.
    So what defines us —the students, faculty and community members at the University of Washington? Above all, it’s our belief in possibility and our unshakable optimism. It’s a connection to others, both near and far. It’s a hunger that pushes us to tackle challenges and pursue progress. It’s the conviction that together we can create a world of good. Join us on the journey.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:16 am on May 18, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Melting glaciers cool the Southern Ocean", Earth Observation,   

    From MIT News: “Melting glaciers cool the Southern Ocean” 

    MIT News

    From MIT News

    May 17, 2020
    Fernanda Ferreira | School of Science

    1
    MIT scientists suggest sea ice extent in the Southern Ocean may increase with glacial melting in Antarctica. This image shows a view of the Earth on Sept. 21, 2005 with the full Antarctic region visible. Photo: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center.

    2
    Discrepancies between observed and modeled surface temperatures (shown in Celsius) in the Southern Ocean might be explained by glacial melt. Image courtesy of the researchers.

    Research suggests glacial melting might explain the recent decadal cooling and sea ice expansion across Antarctica’s Southern Ocean.

    Tucked away at the very bottom of the globe surrounding Antarctica, the Southern Ocean has never been easy to study. Its challenging conditions have placed it out of reach to all but the most intrepid explorers. For climate modelers, however, the surface waters of the Southern Ocean provide a different kind of challenge: It doesn’t behave the way they predict it would. “It is colder and fresher than the models expected,” says Craig Rye, a postdoc in the group of Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Oceanography John Marshall within MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (EAPS).

    In recent decades, as the world warms, the Southern Ocean’s surface temperature has cooled, allowing the amount of ice that crystallizes on the surface each winter to grow. This is not what climate models anticipated, and a recent study accepted in Geophysical Research Letters attempts to disentangle that discrepancy. “This paper is motivated by a disagreement between what should be happening according to simulations and what we observe,” says Rye, the lead author of the paper who is currently working remotely from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, or GISS, in New York City.

    “This is a big conundrum in the climate community,” says Marshall, a co-author on the paper along with Maxwell Kelley, Gary Russell, Gavin A. Schmidt, and Larissa S. Nazarenko of GISS; James Hansen of Columbia University’s Earth Institute; and Yavor Kostov of the University of Exeter. There are 30 or so climate models used to foresee what the world might look like as the climate changes. According to Marshall, models don’t match the recent observations of surface temperature in the Southern Ocean, leaving scientists with a question that Rye, Marshall, and their colleagues intend to answer: how can the Southern Ocean cool when the rest of the Earth is warming?

    This isn’t the first time Marshall has investigated the Southern Ocean and its climate trends. In 2016, Marshall and Yavor Kostov PhD ’16 published a paper exploring two possible influences driving the observed ocean trends: greenhouse gas emissions, and westerly winds — strengthened by expansion of the Antarctic ozone hole — blowing cold water northward from the continent. Both explained some of the cooling in the Southern Ocean, but not all of it. “We ended that paper saying there must be something else,” says Marshall.

    That something else could be meltwater released from thawing glaciers. Rye has probed the influence of glacial melt in the Southern Ocean before, looking at its effect on sea surface height during his PhD at the University of Southampton in the UK. “Since then, I’ve been interested in the potential for glacial melt playing a role in Southern Ocean climate trends,” says Rye.

    The group’s recent paper uses a series of “perturbation” experiments carried out with the GISS global climate model where they abruptly introduce a fixed increase in melt water around Antarctica and then record how the model responds. The researchers then apply the model’s response to a previous climate state to estimate how the climate should react to the observed forcing. The results are then compared to the observational record, to see if a factor is missing. This method is called hindcasting.

    Marshall likens perturbation experiments to walking into a room and being confronted with an object you don’t recognize. “You might give it a gentle whack to see what it’s made of,” says Marshall. Perturbation experiments, he explains, are like whacking the model with inputs, such as glacial melt, greenhouse gas emissions, and wind, to uncover the relative importance of these factors on observed climate trends.

    In their hindcasting, they estimate what would have happened to a pre-industrial Southern Ocean (before anthropogenic climate change) if up to 750 gigatons of meltwater were added each year. That quantity of 750 gigatons of meltwater is estimated from observations of both floating ice shelves and the ice sheet that lies over land above sea level. A single gigaton of water is very large — it can fill 400,000 Olympic swimming pools, meaning 750 gigatons of meltwater is equivalent to pouring water from 300 million Olympic swimming pools into the ocean every year.

    When this increase in glacial melt was added to the model, it led to sea surface cooling, decreases in salinity, and expansion of sea ice coverage that are consistent with observed trends in the Southern Ocean during the last few decades. Their model results suggest that meltwater may account for the majority of previously misunderstood Southern Ocean cooling.

    The model shows that a warming climate may be driving, in a counterintuitive way, more sea ice by increasing the rate of melting of Antarctica’s glaciers. According to Marshall, the paper may solve the disconnect between what was expected and what was observed in the Southern Ocean, and answers the conundrum he and Kostov pointed to in 2016. “The missing process could be glacial melt.”

    Research like Rye’s and Marshall’s help project the future state of Earth’s climate and guide society’s decisions on how to prepare for that future. By hindcasting the Southern Ocean’s climate trends, they and their colleagues have identified another process, which must be incorporated into climate models. “What we’ve tried to do is ground this model in the historical record,” says Marshall. Now the group can probe the GISS model response with further “what if?” glacial melt scenarios to explore what might be in store for the Southern Ocean

    See the full article here .


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    The mission of MIT is to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the twenty-first century. We seek to develop in each member of the MIT community the ability and passion to work wisely, creatively, and effectively for the betterment of humankind.

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  • richardmitnick 9:59 am on May 17, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Magnitude-6.5 earthquake rattles Nevada and California", , Earth Observation, ,   

    From temblor: “Magnitude-6.5 earthquake rattles Nevada and California” 

    1

    From temblor

    May 15, 2020
    Alka Tripathy-Lang, PhD

    A shallow earthquake struck near the California-Nevada border in the early morning hours on May 15, 2020, waking people as far away as the Bay Area and Las Vegas.

    1
    A magnitude-6.5 quake struck a remote part of Nevada today (May 15, 2020), but was felt in the San Francisco Bay area, Bakersfield, and Las Vegas. Based on its aftershocks and focal mechanism, the event probably struck on an unnamed left-lateral fault. Credit: Temblor

    On May 15, 2020, at 4:03 a.m. local time, the desert area west of Tonopah, Nev., was rattled awake by a widely felt magnitude-6.5 earthquake. Nucleating at a depth of 1.7 miles (2.8 kilometers), this shallow temblor occurred on a nearly vertical fault surface where no matter which side of the fault you’re on, the other side moved to the left. Called a left-lateral strike-slip fault, it is similar to the fault that ruptured during the magnitude-6.4 Ridgecrest foreshock that struck approximately 170 miles (270 kilometers) to the south less than a year ago.

    Damage appeared to be minimal, with the Nevada Department of Transportation reporting minor pavement damage to a half-mile section of U.S. Highway 95.

    Earthquakes east of the Sierra Nevada

    As the Pacific Plate moves northwest relative to North America, much of that motion occurs on the famed San Andreas Fault. However, a significant component of the movement between these two tectonic plates, almost 20-25 percent of the total motion, shows up several hundred miles to the east, in the Walker Lane Belt, says Ian Pierce, a postdoctoral researcher at Oxford University who studies active faults. The Walker Lane Belt runs roughly parallel to the California-Nevada border, east of the Sierra Nevada. Like the notorious San Andreas, Walker Lane is a right-lateral fault zone, meaning whichever side you are on, the other side moves to the right.

    Spanning 500 miles (800 kilometers) between near Ridgecrest, Calif., at its southern extent into the northern Sierra Nevada, the Walker Lane Belt comprises many smaller zones of right-lateral faulting that are linked by small left-lateral faults, says Pierce. “It looks like this earthquake was one of those left-lateral faults rupturing,” he says. “As far as the tectonic setting,” he continues, “it’s basically the same as Ridgecrest last year.”

    Similarities to Ridgecrest

    On July 4, 2019, a magnitude-6.4 foreshock rattled Ridgecrest’s residents, but that was just the opening act to the magnitude-7.1 mainshock, which occurred 34 hours later. Pierce compares the Tonopah earthquake with the Ridgecrest foreshock, and points out that aside from their similar magnitudes, “they both occurred on left-lateral faults with small surface ruptures on fairly short—maybe 20-kilometer—fault[s]

    2
    Map of the southern section of the Walker Lane Belt around surrounding regions showing the the past 30 days of earthquake activity. The three stars indicate important quakes—the July 2019 Ridgecrest magnitude-6.4 foreshock, the July 2019 Ridgecrest magnitude-7.1 mainshock, and the Tonopah magnitude-6.5 event of May 15, 2020. Stars are scaled to correspond with magnitude. Credit: Temblor

    However, Pierce says, although Ridgecrest started with a big quake and was followed by an even larger one the next day, “we probably won’t have a magnitude-7.1 tomorrow.”

    Aftershock forecasts

    The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) issues aftershock forecasts, which can be found here. Over the course of the next week, the chance of an aftershock with magnitude-7.0 or higher is 1 percent, indicating that it’s certainly possible, but with very low probability. On the other hand, the chance of a magnitude-3.0 aftershock or higher is greater than 99 percent. As of this writing, at least 12 aftershocks greater than magnitude-4.0 have been reported, including magnitude-4.9 and magnitude-5.1 shocks that occurred less than an hour after the mainshock.

    “People don’t think of Nevada as being very active, but it really is,” says Kathleen Hodgkinson, a geophysicist at UNAVCO.

    Felt on the other side of the mountains

    As of this writing, more than 21,000 people have reported feeling (or not feeling) the event, according to the USGS “Did you Feel It?” citizen science initiative. People felt the distinctive shaking associated with earthquakes in Las Vegas, about 170 miles (280 kilometers) to the southeast, all the way to the California Bay Area, about 280 miles (450 kilometers) west. Austin Elliot, a research geologist at the USGS Earthquake Science Center in the Bay Area, described waking up to “the seemingly ceaseless thumping of the closet doors” on twitter. He also pointed out that “building height amplified the otherwise maybe imperceptible ground motions,” referencing the fact that the higher up you are, the more likely you are to feel the swaying as seismic waves pass by.

    See the full article here .


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    Earthquake Alert

    1

    Earthquake Alert

    Earthquake Network project

    Earthquake Network is a research project which aims at developing and maintaining a crowdsourced smartphone-based earthquake warning system at a global level. Smartphones made available by the population are used to detect the earthquake waves using the on-board accelerometers. When an earthquake is detected, an earthquake warning is issued in order to alert the population not yet reached by the damaging waves of the earthquake.

    The project started on January 1, 2013 with the release of the homonymous Android application Earthquake Network. The author of the research project and developer of the smartphone application is Francesco Finazzi of the University of Bergamo, Italy.

    Get the app in the Google Play store.

    3
    Smartphone network spatial distribution (green and red dots) on December 4, 2015

    Meet The Quake-Catcher Network

    QCN bloc

    Quake-Catcher Network

    The Quake-Catcher Network is a collaborative initiative for developing the world’s largest, low-cost strong-motion seismic network by utilizing sensors in and attached to internet-connected computers. With your help, the Quake-Catcher Network can provide better understanding of earthquakes, give early warning to schools, emergency response systems, and others. The Quake-Catcher Network also provides educational software designed to help teach about earthquakes and earthquake hazards.

    After almost eight years at Stanford, and a year at CalTech, the QCN project is moving to the University of Southern California Dept. of Earth Sciences. QCN will be sponsored by the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) and the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC).

    The Quake-Catcher Network is a distributed computing network that links volunteer hosted computers into a real-time motion sensing network. QCN is one of many scientific computing projects that runs on the world-renowned distributed computing platform Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC).

    The volunteer computers monitor vibrational sensors called MEMS accelerometers, and digitally transmit “triggers” to QCN’s servers whenever strong new motions are observed. QCN’s servers sift through these signals, and determine which ones represent earthquakes, and which ones represent cultural noise (like doors slamming, or trucks driving by).

    There are two categories of sensors used by QCN: 1) internal mobile device sensors, and 2) external USB sensors.

    Mobile Devices: MEMS sensors are often included in laptops, games, cell phones, and other electronic devices for hardware protection, navigation, and game control. When these devices are still and connected to QCN, QCN software monitors the internal accelerometer for strong new shaking. Unfortunately, these devices are rarely secured to the floor, so they may bounce around when a large earthquake occurs. While this is less than ideal for characterizing the regional ground shaking, many such sensors can still provide useful information about earthquake locations and magnitudes.

    USB Sensors: MEMS sensors can be mounted to the floor and connected to a desktop computer via a USB cable. These sensors have several advantages over mobile device sensors. 1) By mounting them to the floor, they measure more reliable shaking than mobile devices. 2) These sensors typically have lower noise and better resolution of 3D motion. 3) Desktops are often left on and do not move. 4) The USB sensor is physically removed from the game, phone, or laptop, so human interaction with the device doesn’t reduce the sensors’ performance. 5) USB sensors can be aligned to North, so we know what direction the horizontal “X” and “Y” axes correspond to.

    If you are a science teacher at a K-12 school, please apply for a free USB sensor and accompanying QCN software. QCN has been able to purchase sensors to donate to schools in need. If you are interested in donating to the program or requesting a sensor, click here.

    BOINC is a leader in the field(s) of Distributed Computing, Grid Computing and Citizen Cyberscience.BOINC is more properly the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing, developed at UC Berkeley.

    Earthquake safety is a responsibility shared by billions worldwide. The Quake-Catcher Network (QCN) provides software so that individuals can join together to improve earthquake monitoring, earthquake awareness, and the science of earthquakes. The Quake-Catcher Network (QCN) links existing networked laptops and desktops in hopes to form the worlds largest strong-motion seismic network.

    Below, the QCN Quake Catcher Network map
    QCN Quake Catcher Network map

    ShakeAlert: An Earthquake Early Warning System for the West Coast of the United States
    1

    The U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) along with a coalition of State and university partners is developing and testing an earthquake early warning (EEW) system called ShakeAlert for the west coast of the United States. Long term funding must be secured before the system can begin sending general public notifications, however, some limited pilot projects are active and more are being developed. The USGS has set the goal of beginning limited public notifications in 2018.

    Watch a video describing how ShakeAlert works in English or Spanish.

    The primary project partners include:

    United States Geological Survey
    California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES)
    California Geological Survey
    California Institute of Technology
    University of California Berkeley
    University of Washington
    University of Oregon
    Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

    The Earthquake Threat

    Earthquakes pose a national challenge because more than 143 million Americans live in areas of significant seismic risk across 39 states. Most of our Nation’s earthquake risk is concentrated on the West Coast of the United States. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has estimated the average annualized loss from earthquakes, nationwide, to be $5.3 billion, with 77 percent of that figure ($4.1 billion) coming from California, Washington, and Oregon, and 66 percent ($3.5 billion) from California alone. In the next 30 years, California has a 99.7 percent chance of a magnitude 6.7 or larger earthquake and the Pacific Northwest has a 10 percent chance of a magnitude 8 to 9 megathrust earthquake on the Cascadia subduction zone.

    Part of the Solution

    Today, the technology exists to detect earthquakes, so quickly, that an alert can reach some areas before strong shaking arrives. The purpose of the ShakeAlert system is to identify and characterize an earthquake a few seconds after it begins, calculate the likely intensity of ground shaking that will result, and deliver warnings to people and infrastructure in harm’s way. This can be done by detecting the first energy to radiate from an earthquake, the P-wave energy, which rarely causes damage. Using P-wave information, we first estimate the location and the magnitude of the earthquake. Then, the anticipated ground shaking across the region to be affected is estimated and a warning is provided to local populations. The method can provide warning before the S-wave arrives, bringing the strong shaking that usually causes most of the damage.

    Studies of earthquake early warning methods in California have shown that the warning time would range from a few seconds to a few tens of seconds. ShakeAlert can give enough time to slow trains and taxiing planes, to prevent cars from entering bridges and tunnels, to move away from dangerous machines or chemicals in work environments and to take cover under a desk, or to automatically shut down and isolate industrial systems. Taking such actions before shaking starts can reduce damage and casualties during an earthquake. It can also prevent cascading failures in the aftermath of an event. For example, isolating utilities before shaking starts can reduce the number of fire initiations.

    System Goal

    The USGS will issue public warnings of potentially damaging earthquakes and provide warning parameter data to government agencies and private users on a region-by-region basis, as soon as the ShakeAlert system, its products, and its parametric data meet minimum quality and reliability standards in those geographic regions. The USGS has set the goal of beginning limited public notifications in 2018. Product availability will expand geographically via ANSS regional seismic networks, such that ShakeAlert products and warnings become available for all regions with dense seismic instrumentation.

    Current Status

    The West Coast ShakeAlert system is being developed by expanding and upgrading the infrastructure of regional seismic networks that are part of the Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS); the California Integrated Seismic Network (CISN) is made up of the Southern California Seismic Network, SCSN) and the Northern California Seismic System, NCSS and the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network (PNSN). This enables the USGS and ANSS to leverage their substantial investment in sensor networks, data telemetry systems, data processing centers, and software for earthquake monitoring activities residing in these network centers. The ShakeAlert system has been sending live alerts to “beta” users in California since January of 2012 and in the Pacific Northwest since February of 2015.

    In February of 2016 the USGS, along with its partners, rolled-out the next-generation ShakeAlert early warning test system in California joined by Oregon and Washington in April 2017. This West Coast-wide “production prototype” has been designed for redundant, reliable operations. The system includes geographically distributed servers, and allows for automatic fail-over if connection is lost.

    This next-generation system will not yet support public warnings but does allow selected early adopters to develop and deploy pilot implementations that take protective actions triggered by the ShakeAlert notifications in areas with sufficient sensor coverage.

    Authorities

    The USGS will develop and operate the ShakeAlert system, and issue public notifications under collaborative authorities with FEMA, as part of the National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program, as enacted by the Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act of 1977, 42 U.S.C. §§ 7704 SEC. 2.

    For More Information

    Robert de Groot, ShakeAlert National Coordinator for Communication, Education, and Outreach
    rdegroot@usgs.gov
    626-583-7225

    Learn more about EEW Research

    ShakeAlert Fact Sheet

    ShakeAlert Implementation Plan

     
  • richardmitnick 9:47 am on May 15, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Magnetic north and the elongating blob", , Earth Observation,   

    From European Space Agency – United Space in Europe: “Magnetic north and the elongating blob” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    From European Space Agency – United Space in Europe

    5.14.20

    1
    Unlike our geographic north pole, which is in a fixed location, magnetic north wanders. This has been known since it was first measured in 1831, and subsequently mapped drifting slowly from the Canadian Arctic towards Siberia. However, since the 1990s, this drift has turned into more of a sprint – going from its historic wandering of 0–15 km a year to its present speed of 50–60 km a year. Scientists from Leeds University in the UK, says this is down to competition between two magnetic blobs on the edge of the Earth’s outer core. Changes in the flow of molten material in the planet’s interior have altered the strength of the above regions of negative magnetic flux. The image shows the pattern of flow in Earth’s outer core inferred by satellite data, including ESA’s Swarm mission, of the magnetic field. The image was supplied by Dr Nicolas Gillet from the University of Grenoble. The research is partially supported by the CNES French Space Agency. © N. Gillet

    For some years now, scientists have been puzzling over why the north magnetic pole has been making a dash towards Siberia. Thanks, in part, to ESA’s Swarm satellite mission, scientists are now more confident in the theory that tussling magnetic blobs deep below Earth’s surface are at the root of this phenomenon.

    ESA/Swarm

    Unlike our geographic north pole, which is in a fixed location, magnetic north wanders. This has been known since it was first measured in 1831, and subsequently mapped drifting slowly from the Canadian Arctic towards Siberia.


    Unlike our geographic North Pole, which is in a fixed location, magnetic north wanders. This has been known since it was first measured in 1831, and subsequently mapped drifting slowly from the Canadian Arctic towards Siberia. One of the practical consequences of this is that the World Magnetic Model has to be updated periodically with the pole’s current location. The model is vital for many navigation systems used by ships, Google maps and smartphones, for example. Between 1990 and 2005 magnetic north accelerated from its historic speed of 0–15 km a year, to its present speed of 50–60 km a year. In late October 2017, it crossed the international date line, passing within 390 km of the geographic pole, and is now heading south.

    ESA’s Swarm mission is not only being used to keep track of magnetic north, but scientists are using its data to measure and untangle the different magnetic fields that stem from Earth’s core, mantle, crust, oceans, ionosphere and magnetosphere. Our magnetic field exists because of an ocean of superheated, swirling liquid iron that makes up the outer core. Like a spinning conductor in a bicycle dynamo, this moving iron creates electrical currents, which in turn generate our continuously changing magnetic field. Tracking changes in the magnetic field can, therefore, tell researchers how the iron in the core moves.

    See the full article here .


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    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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