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  • richardmitnick 10:54 am on February 16, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Study ocean currents and the tiny creatures they transport, Swarm of Underwater Robots Mimics Ocean Life,   

    From Scripps Institution of Oceanography: “Swarm of Underwater Robots Mimics Ocean Life” Jan 2017 

    Scripps Institution of Oceanography

    Jan 24, 2017 [Just found this]

    Mario Aguilera
    858-534-3624
    scrippsnews@ucsd.edu

    1
    Miniature autonomous underwater explorers.

    Underwater robots developed by researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego offer scientists an extraordinary new tool to study ocean currents and the tiny creatures they transport. Swarms of these underwater robots helped answer some basic questions about the most abundant life forms in the ocean—plankton.

    Scripps research oceanographer Jules Jaffe designed and built the miniature autonomous underwater explorers, or M-AUEs, to study small-scale environmental processes taking place in the ocean. The ocean-probing instruments are equipped with temperature and other sensors to measure the surrounding ocean conditions while the robots “swim” up and down to maintain a constant depth by adjusting their buoyancy. The M-AUEs could potentially be deployed in swarms of hundreds to thousands to capture a three-dimensional view of the interactions between ocean currents and marine life.

    In a new study published in the Jan. 24 [2017] issue of the journal Nature Communications, Jaffe and Scripps biological oceanographer Peter Franks deployed a swarm of 16 grapefruit-sized underwater robots programmed to mimic the underwater swimming behavior of plankton, the microscopic organisms that drift with the ocean currents. The research study was designed to test theories about how plankton form dense patches under the ocean surface, which often later reveal themselves at the surface as red tides.

    “These patches might work like planktonic singles bars,” said Franks, who has long suspected that the dense aggregations could aid feeding, reproduction, and protection from predators.

    Two decades ago Franks published a mathematical theory predicting that swimming plankton would form dense patches when pushed around by internal waves—giant, slow-moving waves below the ocean surface. Testing his theory would require tracking the movements of individual plankton—each smaller than a grain of rice—as they swam in the ocean, which is not possible using available technology.

    Jaffe instead invented “robotic plankton” that drift with the ocean currents, but are programmed to move up and down by adjusting their buoyancy, imitating the movements of plankton. A swarm of these robotic plankton was the ideal tool to finally put Franks’ mathematical theory to the test.

    “The big engineering breakthroughs were to make the M-AUEs small, inexpensive, and able to be tracked continuously underwater,” said Jaffe. The low cost allowed Jaffe and his team to build a small army of the robots that could be deployed in a swarm.

    Tracking the individual M-AUEs was a challenge, as GPS does not work underwater. A key component of the project was the development by researchers at UC San Diego’s Qualcomm Institute and Department of Computer Science and Engineering of mathematical techniques to use acoustic signals to track the M-AUE vehicles while they were submerged.

    During a five-hour experiment, the Scripps researchers along with UC San Diego colleagues deployed a 300-meter (984-foot) diameter swarm of 16 M-AUEs programmed to stay 10-meters (33-feet) deep in the ocean off the coast of Torrey Pines, near La Jolla, Calif. The M-AUEs constantly adjusted their buoyancy to move vertically against the currents created by the internal waves. The three-dimensional location information collected every 12 seconds revealed where this robotic swarm moved below the ocean surface.

    The results of the study were nearly identical to what Franks predicted. The surrounding ocean temperatures fluctuated as the internal waves passed through the M-AUE swarm. And, as predicted by Franks, the M-AUE location data showed that the swarm formed a tightly packed patch in the warm waters of the internal wave troughs, but dispersed over the wave crests.

    “This is the first time such a mechanism has been tested underwater,” said Franks.

    The experiment helped the researchers confirm that free-floating plankton can use the physical dynamics of the ocean—in this case internal waves—to increase their concentrations to congregate into swarms to fulfill their fundamental life needs.

    “This swarm-sensing approach opens up a whole new realm of ocean exploration,” said Jaffe. Augmenting the M-AUEs with cameras would allow the photographic mapping of coral habitats, or “plankton selfies,” according to Jaffe.

    The research team has hopes to build hundreds more of the miniature robots to study the movement of larvae between marine protected areas, monitor harmful red tide blooms, and to help track oil spills. The onboard hydrophones that help track the M-AUEs underwater could also allow the swarm to act like a giant “ear” in the ocean, listening to and localizing ambient sounds in the ocean.

    Jaffe, Franks, and their colleagues were awarded nearly $1 million from the National Science Foundation in 2009 to develop and test the new breed of ocean-probing instruments. The study’s coauthors include: Paul Roberts, principal development engineer at Scripps, Ryan Kastner, professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering; Diba Mirza, postdoctoral researcher in computer science; and Curt Schurgers, principal development engineer at the Qualcomm Institute, and Scripps student intern Adrien Boch.

    See the full article here .

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    A department of UC San Diego, Scripps Institution of Oceanography is one of the oldest, largest, and most important centers for ocean, earth and atmospheric science research, education, and public service in the world.

    Research at Scripps encompasses physical, chemical, biological, geological, and geophysical studies of the oceans, Earth, and planets. Scripps undergraduate and graduate programs provide transformative educational and research opportunities in ocean, earth, and atmospheric sciences, as well as degrees in climate science and policy and marine biodiversity and conservation.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:10 am on February 7, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: grand minimum, , Reduced Energy from the Sun Might Occur by Mid-Century. Now Scientists Know by How Much, Scripps Institution of Oceanography,   

    From UCSD: “Reduced Energy from the Sun Might Occur by Mid-Century. Now Scientists Know by How Much” 

    UC San Diego bloc

    UC San Diego

    Robert Monroe
    858-534-3624
    scrippsnews@ucsd.edu

    UC San Diego scientists review satellite observations of nearby Sun-like stars to estimate the strength of the next “grand minimum” period of diminished UV radiation.

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    Magnetic loops gyrate above the sun, March 23-24, 2017. Photo: NASA/GSFC/Solar Dynamics Observatory

    Solar eruption 2012 by NASA’s Solar Dynamic Observatory SDO


    NASA/SDO

    The Sun might emit less radiation by mid-century, giving planet Earth a chance to warm a bit more slowly but not halt the trend of human-induced climate change.

    The cooldown would be the result of what scientists call a grand minimum, a periodic event during which the Sun’s magnetism diminishes, sunspots form infrequently, and less ultraviolet radiation makes it to the surface of the planet. Scientists believe that the event is triggered at irregular intervals by random fluctuations related to the Sun’s magnetic field.

    Scientists have used reconstructions based on geological and historical data to attribute a cold period in Europe in the mid-17th Century to such an event, named the “Maunder Minimum.” Temperatures were low enough to freeze the Thames River on a regular basis and freeze the Baltic Sea to such an extent that a Swedish army was able to invade Denmark in 1658 on foot by marching across the sea ice.

    A team of scientists led by research physicist Dan Lubin at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego has created for the first time an estimate of how much dimmer the Sun should be when the next minimum takes place.

    There is a well-known 11-year cycle in which the Sun’s ultraviolet radiation peaks and declines as a result of sunspot activity. During a grand minimum, Lubin estimates that ultraviolet radiation diminishes an additional seven percent beyond the lowest point of that cycle. His team’s study, “Ultraviolet Flux Decrease Under a Grand Minimum from IUE Short-wavelength Observation of Solar Analogs,” appears in the publication Astrophysical Journal Letters and was funded by the state of California.

    “Now we have a benchmark from which we can perform better climate model simulations,” Lubin said. “We can therefore have a better idea of how changes in solar UV radiation affect climate change.”

    Lubin and colleagues David Tytler and Carl Melis of UC San Diego’s Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences arrived at their estimate of a grand minimum’s intensity by reviewing nearly 20 years of data gathered by the International Ultraviolet Explorer satellite mission.

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    NASA International Ultraviolet Explorer satellite

    They compared radiation from stars that are analogous to the Sun and identified those that were experiencing minima.

    The reduced energy from the Sun sets into motion a sequence of events on Earth beginning with a thinning of the stratospheric ozone layer. That thinning in turn changes the temperature structure of the stratosphere, which then changes the dynamics of the lower atmosphere, especially wind and weather patterns. The cooling is not uniform. While areas of Europe chilled during the Maunder Minimum, other areas such as Alaska and southern Greenland warmed correspondingly.

    Lubin and other scientists predict a significant probability of a near-future grand minimum because the downward sunspot pattern in recent solar cycles resembles the run-ups to past grand minimum events.

    Despite how much the Maunder Minimum might have affected Earth the last time, Lubin said that an upcoming event would not stop the current trend of planetary warming but might slow it somewhat. The cooling effect of a grand minimum is only a fraction of the warming effect caused by the increasing concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. After hundreds of thousands of years of CO2 levels never exceeding 300 parts per million in air, the concentration of the greenhouse gas is now over 400 parts per million, continuing a rise that began with the Industrial Revolution. Other researchers have used computer models to estimate what an event similar to a Maunder Minimum, if it were to occur in coming decades, might mean for our current climate, which is now rapidly warming.

    One such study looked at the climate consequences of a future Maunder Minimum-type grand solar minimum, assuming a total solar irradiance reduced by 0.25 percent over a 50-year period from 2020 to 2070. The study found that after the initial decrease of solar radiation in 2020, globally averaged surface air temperature cooled by up to several tenths of a degree Celsius. By the end of the simulated grand solar minimum, however, the warming in the model with the simulated Maunder Minimum had nearly caught up to the reference simulation. Thus, a main conclusion of the study is that “a future grand solar minimum could slow down but not stop global warming.”

    See the full article here .

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    UC San Diego Campus

    The University of California, San Diego (also referred to as UC San Diego or UCSD), is a public research university located in the La Jolla area of San Diego, California, in the United States.[12] The university occupies 2,141 acres (866 ha) near the coast of the Pacific Ocean with the main campus resting on approximately 1,152 acres (466 ha).[13] Established in 1960 near the pre-existing Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego is the seventh oldest of the 10 University of California campuses and offers over 200 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, enrolling about 22,700 undergraduate and 6,300 graduate students. UC San Diego is one of America’s Public Ivy universities, which recognizes top public research universities in the United States. UC San Diego was ranked 8th among public universities and 37th among all universities in the United States, and rated the 18th Top World University by U.S. News & World Report ‘s 2015 rankings.

     
    • Skyscapes for the Soul 9:29 am on February 7, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Interesting the note about in the Maunder minimum Europe froze while Alaska warmed. Now we’re seeing Alaska warming again, but Russia seems to be having a harder than usual winter, and perhaps Europe too? I just see news items about Paris and Moscow having record snow.

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  • richardmitnick 5:29 pm on December 14, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Bioluminescence, Ferritin, Parchment tubeworm the marine invertebrate Chaetopterus sp., Scripps Institution of Oceanography   

    From Scripps Institution of Oceanography: “Bioluminescent Worm Found to Have Iron Superpowers” 

    Scripps Institution of Oceanography

    Dec 14, 2017

    Lauren Fimbres Wood
    858-534-3624
    scrippsnews@ucsd.edu

    1
    Parchment tubeworm in the field. Photo by Dr. Evelien De Meulenaere, Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.

    Researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego have made a discovery with potential human health impacts in a parchment tubeworm, the marine invertebrate Chaetopterus sp., that resides in muddy coastal seafloors.

    A new study published in Biochemical Journal finds that the tubeworm, also known for its bioluminescence, is found to have a ferritin with the fastest catalytic performance ever described, nearly eight times faster than that of human capabilities.

    Ferritin is an important protein found in nearly all living organisms as it manages iron metabolism in cells by storing and releasing it in a controlled manner. In humans, it is critical to iron storage and iron metabolism, helping balance iron in the blood.

    “We were surprised to discover that even though the tubeworm ferritin is very similar to human ferritin, it outperforms the human variant, by a lot,” said Scripps research scientist Dimitri Deheyn, the lead investigator on the study. “There are major biotechnological research implications to this finding, in particular for the many labs that develop ferritin applications.”

    This discovery also has important human health implications for biomedical research, as ferritin is an essential protein for those with iron deficiency and overall iron metabolism issues. This discovery can be a new tool in future research of ferritin to use in patients, thanks to its biocompatibility and ability to carry, protect and deliver small molecules as medication to specific targets.

    The parchment tubeworm has long been studied by Deheyn’s lab, primarily for its bioluminescent capabilities. The species also has the unique ability to keep its blue light glowing for hours, and sometimes days on end, significantly longer than most bioluminescent organisms that typically illuminate only for milliseconds or seconds. A study published in 2016 in Scientific Reports by former Scripps postdoctoral researcher Renu Rawat suggested that ferritin in the worm’s mucus enabled the sustained light production.

    Because of the light-stimulating effect, the presence of ferritin in the mucus was considered of interest by the researchers to further understand its role in this unusual light-production pattern in the tubeworm.

    “The link to bioluminescence is incredibly important, and we’re just beginning to understand how ferritin influences bioluminescence and why ferritin works so much faster in this organism,” said Scripps postdoctoral scholar and study co-author Evelien De Meulenaere, who has been studying this tube worm’s unique properties for more than three years.

    De Meulenaere described ferritin as being shaped like a soccer ball, with openings that take up iron when available, store it and release it when needed. That specific structure allows for a wide range in applications, from medical to environmental. It could help target medication release, function as a safe contrast agent, while also being used for water treatment by selectively taking up and storing contaminants.

    In her research, De Meulenaere tested two different approaches to measure enzyme response, covering different time scales. Both approaches compared the reactions of worm ferritin with human ferritin. In the first approach, iron was added to reaction tubes containing the respective ferritins, after which the remaining amount of ferrous iron left in solution was measured over time (1-2 hours). The second analyzed on millisecond scale how much iron oxide was created inside the ferritin, indicated by the generation of “rust” coloration the tube. Both approaches determined the worm ferritin converted iron significantly faster.

    The tubeworm is pervasive in nearshore, muddy seafloors. The one used in this study is common throughout San Diego and Southern California, however, different variations of the tubeworm can be found in temperate coastal areas around the world. Considered an invasive species that typically lives in a tube that it builds in the mud, the worm and its tube encasement are also being studied by researchers in Deheyn’s Lab to further analyze its resilience to heat.

    This study was funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (grant no. FA9550-17-0189), which is interested in learning more about the unique bioluminescent properties of the worm, the outstanding performances of the worm ferritin, and the resilient properties of the tube encasement, within a larger framework studying biomimetic systems.

    See the full article here .

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    A department of UC San Diego, Scripps Institution of Oceanography is one of the oldest, largest, and most important centers for ocean, earth and atmospheric science research, education, and public service in the world.

    Research at Scripps encompasses physical, chemical, biological, geological, and geophysical studies of the oceans, Earth, and planets. Scripps undergraduate and graduate programs provide transformative educational and research opportunities in ocean, earth, and atmospheric sciences, as well as degrees in climate science and policy and marine biodiversity and conservation.

     
  • richardmitnick 3:29 pm on June 16, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ARM West Antarctic Radiation Experiment (AWARE), , , Scripps Institution of Oceanography   

    From BNL: “With ARM Instruments Watching, an Extensive Summer Melt in West Antarctica” 

    Brookhaven Lab

    June 15, 2017

    A new paper in Nature Communications demonstrates atmospheric reasons for ice loss

    One day in December of 2015, bound for a remote ice camp in the interior of Antarctica, Scripps Institution of Oceanography doctoral student Ryan Scott boarded a ski-equipped LC-130 turboprop transport plane at McMurdo Station at the south tip of Ross Island. It was austral summer and the temperature outside hovered around -4 degrees Celsius.

    Scott was part of the 2015 to 2017 ARM West Antarctic Radiation Experiment (AWARE), the most comprehensive meteorological field campaign in West Antarctica since 1957. He was stationed in the remote West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) ice camp, where scientists spent 45 days collecting first-ever surface measurements of clouds and radiation. The main AWARE site, far more heavily instrumented and researched, was at McMurdo.

    In mid-January 2016, Scott and other AWARE scientists got a bonus: a close-up view—with instruments—of an extensive summer surface melt event on the WAIS. It affected 915,000 square kilometer, an area more than twice the size of California. The temperature rose rapidly, imparting a mugginess to the air that Scott compared to stepping off a plane in Miami after a visit to wintry New York.

    The surface melt event inspired a paper that appears in the June 15, 2017, issue of Nature Communications.

    “We were very lucky,” says co-author and Ohio State University (OSU) atmospheric scientist David Bromwich, who co-wrote the 2015 AWARE science plan. “We wouldn’t have known about this [surface melt event] without instruments and scientists at the WAIS Divide.”
    Measuring surface melt intensity

    AWARE was a joint field study of the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Climate Research Facility, a U.S. Department of Energy scientific user facility, which supplied state-of-the-art portable instrumentation, and the National Science Foundation Division of Polar Programs, which provided logistical support critical to the deployment. Co-author Andrew Vogelmann, an atmospheric scientist at Brookhaven National Laboratory and an AWARE co-principal investigator, calls the collaborative effort “an excellent marriage between two outstanding capabilities.”

    The WAIS Divide ice camp was upslope and downwind from the surface melt event, an 1,801 meter-high vantage point just on the edge of the affected area. Scott, who spent five weeks there in a tent staked into the snow, had an unexpected front-row seat to what lead author Julien P. Nicolas (who is at OSU) calls “one of the most prominent events we’ve seen since 1978.”

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    Number of days in January 2016 when surface melt was detected from passive microwave satellite observations. Credit: Julien Nicolas, The Ohio State University

    Nicolas described the 11-day warming event in January 2016 as having the second greatest melt intensity behind one recorded by satellite during the austral summer of 1991 to 1992.

    At the WAIS Divide ice camp, a smaller suite of instruments was in place compared to the main AWARE site at McMurdo. Scott monitored the weather, measured snow moisture, launched radiosondes, cleaned instruments, checked data quality, and took regular photos of snow grains—the kind that pattered against his tent like bird shot as he was trying to sleep.

    On January 10, from a 6- by 10-foot instrument shed arrayed with computers, Scott watched the temperature rise fast, from -20 Celsius to near zero, an astonishing spike in the mercury considering the camp’s high elevation and the position of the sun at the time; it was low on the horizon.

    “Once that warm air hit, it was relatively humid and muggy,” says Scott. “I knew something was up.” He soon alerted other scientists, including Scripps research physicist Dan Lubin, lead principal investigator for AWARE.

    Everyone in the AWARE campaign, of course, wanted to see and measure a melt event. But the traditional window to see such events usually passes by early January every year, says Nicolas. That made the mid-January warming in 2016, closely recorded by ARM instruments, a happy accident that came just in time. Not long after, instruments at the WAIS Divide camp were packed up and shipped out.

    “The atmospheric flow that caused [the surface melt event] passed over the ARM site at WAIS Divide,” says Bromwich. Those direct ARM measurements of the atmospheric conditions provided a clear picture of clouds over the WAIS Divide, including data on liquid water, ice phase, and mixed phase clouds.

    A robust array of ARM instruments

    Observations at the WAIS Divide on clouds, surface energy budget, and on atmospheric moisture and temperature came from a series of ARM instruments. Radiosonde balloons—the first there since 1967—were launched four times a day in the site’s 24-hour daylight, yielding vertical profiles of temperature and water vapor.

    Microwave radiometers, including a G-Band (183 GHZ) Vapor Radiometer Profiler (GVRP), estimated column water vapor and the low-liquid cloud water path of passing clouds. “ARM made special provisions to make the GVRP’s AWARE deployment possible,” says Vogelmann. “That turned out to be critically important to observe the low-cloud liquid water paths.”

    Vogelmann helped the AWARE team determine which subset of instruments to include for maximum benefit in the WAIS Divide deployment, where space was at a premium. Meanwhile, the main body of ARM instrumentation resided at McMurdo. He says the site separation is parallel to the idea of a central observation facility augmented by an extended facility on the periphery of the main realm of observation. (The two sites are 1,600 kilometers apart. WAIS Divide is open only in summer.)

    The challenge was getting everything for the Divide into one sea container, he says. The instruments also had to be versatile and robust enough to make the journey into the harsh interior of an already harsh place. (Instrument engineer for AWARE at WAIS Divide was Heath Powers from Los Alamos National Laboratory.) For observing the surface energy budget during the surface melt event, says Vogelmann, the chosen instruments “worked out incredibly well.”

    In the paper, Figure 4 demonstrates how the surface energy budget was derived. The last panel shows the surface energy gain in the first 17 days of that January. Plainly, nature had turned the burners on high from January 10 to 14, a period the paper describes as Phase 1 of the surface melt event.

    “You got this huge build-up” of net surface energy gain, says Vogelmann, and it was supported by contemporaneous satellite data.

    Phase 2 (January 15 to 21) represents the next four days, when surface energy gain started to sink back to the normal range. Such surface melt events have occurred in the past, he says, “but without ARM instruments we could have only known from satellites that something was going on. We would not have had this picture from the surface to help us understand what was really happening.”

    Interactive puzzle of ENSO and SAM

    In the Nature Communications paper, Nicolas, Bromwich, and others at OSU’s Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center used satellite data to measure the extent and duration of the melt event; to examine the atmospheric circulation that led to it; and to run model simulations of two large-scale modes of climate variability: the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), a recurring Tropical Pacific climate pattern, and the Southern Annular Mode (SAM), a westerly wind belt that during its “positive” phase contracts protectively toward Antarctica.

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    AWARE instruments measure cloud characteristics and surface energy balance components in central West Antarctica for the first time since 1967. This photo, taken on December 22, 2015 using a fish-eye lens, displays an optical effect known as a “sun dog,” caused by light interacting with atmospheric ice crystals. Credit: Colin Jenkinson, Australian Bureau of Meteorology

    The January 2016 surface melt event coincided with one of the strongest El Niño events on record. These warm phases of ENSO tend to shift warm air towards Antarctica’s temperature-vulnerable Ross Ice Shelf. On the other hand, the SAM (when in its positive phase, as it was in January 2016) often blocks the warm air like a kind of atmospheric fence. As the paper notes, understanding the roles of ENSO and SAM in such Antarctic surface melting events would provide insight into their future likelihood.

    So far, the mechanisms are not clear, though it is likely, the paper says, that a predicted future of more extreme and frequent El Niño patterns could mean more prolonged summer melt events in the WAIS.

    Grasping the ENSO-SAM interactions with the ice sheet of West Antarctica is consequential.

    “The ice sheet was gone in previous warming periods,” says Bromwich, pointing to the Earth’s last inter-glacial period about 125,000 years ago. Conditions then, he added, “were only a little warmer than today”—and yet the sea level was 6 to 9 meters higher than it is now. How much came from the WAIS is presently uncertain.

    One key point of the new paper, agreed Bromwich and Nicolas in a joint phone interview, is that scientific attention is now shifting from a traditional sense of Antarctica’s ice-melt susceptibility (warm ocean water underneath the coastal ice shelves) to a sense that it is also influenced by a warming atmosphere, which spurs surface melting.

    It’s an idea pointedly made in a 2016 Nature paper (cited in the Nature Communications article) on the continent’s contribution to past and future sea level rise.

    “There is a lot of work to be done with climate models and teleconnections,” says Bromwich, which are climate features related to one another at long distances, over thousands of kilometers. “We’ll see what these can tell us about the future.”

    Continuing momentum of science

    AWARE benefited from having instruments in the right place at the right time to observe and record such an extensive summer surface melt event. “It was an extraordinary piece of good luck,” agrees Lubin. But more broadly, the data gathered during AWARE “will have a great deal of longevity,” he says. “They are very unique, very powerful data sets.”

    Lubin and Bromwich had tried for years to propose Antarctic projects that were the investigative predecessors of AWARE and had come close to funding several times. Finally, the science stars aligned because of the ARM Mobile Facilities, says Lubin. “The timing was just right,” he says.

    The first of these portable instrumented observation platforms, available by a competitive proposal process, was launched in 2005; now there are three.

    There is momentum in southern latitudes research. This September, ARM will launch the Measurements of Radiation, Aerosols, and Clouds over the Southern Ocean (MARCUS) campaign using its second mobile facility designed with ship deployments in mind. It will unfold off the coast of Antarctica on the Australian Antarctic supply vessel Aurora Australis, in a usually pristine region tossed by epic storms, winds, and waves.

    AWARE is also likely to inspire “AWARE-like” projects for years to come, says Lubin.

    Moreover, extensive surface melt events in West Antarctica continue to happen. Scott pointed to one this past January in the Ross Sea sector.

    He is currently funded by a NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship and is one of many scientists busy grappling with AWARE data sets. Scott is lead author on a paper cited in the Nature Communications article and has another on the way based on earlier (though less extensive) melting events he found in online satellite data from 1973 to 1978.

    Scott, slated to get his doctorate next year, would like to spend years scouring AWARE data for insights into the consequential fate of ice cover in Antarctica. Most of the measurements are from ARM instruments that had been sited at McMurdo on Ross Island, he says. “It’s the first time Antarctica has seen data like this.”

    Related Links

    Nature Communications Paper: January 2016 extensive summer melt in West Antarctica favoured by strong El Niño
    Ohio State University press release
    Scripps Institution of Oceanography press release
    Brookhaven Lab story on launch of AWARE study

    See the full article here .

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    One of ten national laboratories overseen and primarily funded by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Brookhaven National Laboratory conducts research in the physical, biomedical, and environmental sciences, as well as in energy technologies and national security. Brookhaven Lab also builds and operates major scientific facilities available to university, industry and government researchers. The Laboratory’s almost 3,000 scientists, engineers, and support staff are joined each year by more than 5,000 visiting researchers from around the world. Brookhaven is operated and managed for DOE’s Office of Science by Brookhaven Science Associates, a limited-liability company founded by Stony Brook University, the largest academic user of Laboratory facilities, and Battelle, a nonprofit, applied science and technology organization.
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  • richardmitnick 10:46 am on March 8, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , California Fault System Could Produce Magnitude 7.3 Quake, , , Newport-Inglewood/Rose Canyon fault mostly offshore but never more than four miles from the San Diego Orange County and Los Angeles County coast, Scripps Institution of Oceanography   

    From Eos: “California Fault System Could Produce Magnitude 7.3 Quake” 

    AGU bloc

    AGU
    Eos news bloc

    Eos

    Mar 7, 2017

    A new study finds rupture of the offshore Newport-Inglewood/Rose Canyon fault that runs from San Diego to Los Angeles is possible.

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    A Scripps research vessel tows a hydrophone array used to collect high-resolution bathymetric to better understand offshore California faults. Credit: Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego

    A fault system that runs from San Diego to Los Angeles is capable of producing up to magnitude 7.3 earthquakes if the offshore segments rupture and a 7.4 if the southern onshore segment also ruptures, according to a new study led by Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego.

    The Newport-Inglewood and Rose Canyon faults had been considered separate systems but the study shows that they are actually one continuous fault system running from San Diego Bay to Seal Beach in Orange County, then on land through the Los Angeles basin.

    “This system is mostly offshore but never more than four miles from the San Diego, Orange County, and Los Angeles County coast,” said study lead author Valerie Sahakian, who performed the work during her doctorate at Scripps and is now a postdoctoral fellow with the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, California. “Even if you have a high 5- or low 6-magnitude earthquake, it can still have a major impact on those regions which are some of the most densely populated in California.”

    The new study was accepted for publication in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.

    In the new study, researchers processed data from previous seismic surveys and supplemented it with high-resolution bathymetric data gathered offshore by Scripps researchers between 2006 and 2009 and seismic surveys conducted aboard former Scripps research vessels New Horizon and Melville in 2013. The disparate data have different resolution scales and depth of penetration providing a “nested survey” of the region. This nested approach allowed the scientists to define the fault architecture at an unprecedented scale and thus to create magnitude estimates with more certainty.

    2
    Locations of NIRC fault zone as observed in seismic profiles. Credit: AGU/Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth

    They identified four segments of the strike-slip fault that are broken up by what geoscientists call stepovers, points where the fault is horizontally offset. Scientists generally consider stepovers wider than three kilometers more likely to inhibit ruptures along entire faults and instead contain them to individual segments—creating smaller earthquakes. Because the stepovers in the Newport-Inglewood/Rose Canyon (NIRC) fault are two kilometers wide or less, the Scripps-led team considers a rupture of all the offshore segments is possible, said Neal Driscoll, a geophysicist at Scripps and co-author of the new study.

    The team used two estimation methods to derive the maximum potential a rupture of the entire fault, including one onshore and offshore portions. Both methods yielded estimates between magnitude 6.7 and magnitude 7.3 to 7.4.

    The fault system most famously hosted a 6.4-magnitude quake in Long Beach, California that killed 115 people in 1933. Researchers have found evidence of earlier earthquakes of indeterminate size on onshore portions of the fault, finding that at the northern end of the fault system, there have been between three and five ruptures in the last 11,000 years. At the southern end, there is evidence of a quake that took place roughly 400 years ago and little significant activity for 5,000 years before that.

    Driscoll has recently collected long sediment cores along the offshore portion of the fault to date previous ruptures along the offshore segments, but the work was not part of this study.

    “Further study is warranted to improve the current understanding of hazard and potential ground shaking posed to urban coastal areas from Tijuana to Los Angeles from the NIRC fault,” the study concludes.

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 5:48 pm on March 7, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Advanced Cyberinfrastructure Development Lab, , , , ICESat, OpenAltimetry, Scripps Institution of Oceanography,   

    From UCSD: “UC San Diego to Develop Cyberinfrastructure for NASA’s ICESat-2 Data” 

    UC San Diego bloc

    UC San Diego

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    UCSD Supercomputer Center

    March 7, 2017
    Jan Zverina
    jzverina@sdsc.edu
    SDSC Communications
    (858) 534-5111

    The San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) and Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego have been awarded a NASA ACCESS grant to develop a cyberinfrastructure platform for discovery, access, and visualization of data from NASA’s ICESat and upcoming ICESat-2 laser altimeter missions.


    NASA ICESat

    ICESat and ICESat-2 (scheduled for launch in 2018) measure changes in the volume of Earth’s ice sheets, sea-ice thickness, sea-level height, the structure of forest and brushland canopies, and the distribution of clouds and aerosols.

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    (Top left) ICESat 91-day tracks across newly discovered subglacial Lake Engelhardt in West Antarctica. Tracks are color-coded by elevation changes between October 2003 and November 2005. White asterisks locate tide-induced ice-flexure limits for the grounding line derived from ICESat repeat-track analysis. (Top right/bottom left) Repeat ICESat profiles along two tracks across the lake (see top left panel for locations). Track 206 was an almost exact repeat of an 8-day track. (Bottom right) ICESat elevations against time at three orbit crossovers in the center of the lake including the 8-day data at crossover 1 in February/March 2003. Image courtesy of Fricker, Helen Amanda; Ted Scambos; Robert Bindschadler; Laurie Padman: “An Active Subglacial Water System in West Antarctica Mapped from Space.” Science 315, no. 5818 (2007): 1544-1548.

    The new project, dubbed OpenAltimetry , will build upon technology that SDSC developed for its NSF-funded OpenTopography facility, which provides web-based access to high-resolution topographic data and processing tools for a broad spectrum of research communities.

    OpenAltimetry, which includes the Boulder, CO-based National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) and UNAVCO as collaborators, also incorporates lessons learned from a prototype data discovery interface that was developed under NASA’s Lidar Access System project, a collaboration between UNAVCO, SDSC, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, and NSIDC.

    OpenAltimetry will enable researchers unfamiliar with ICESat/ICESat-2 data to easily navigate the dataset and plot elevation changes over time in any area of interest. These capabilities will be heavily used for assessing the quality of data in regions of interest, and for exploratory analysis of areas of potential but unconfirmed surface change.

    Possible use cases include the identification of subglacial lakes in the Antarctic, and the documentation of deforestation via observations of forest canopy height and density changes.

    “The unique data generated by ICESat and the upcoming ICESat-2 mission require a new paradigm for data access, both to serve the needs of expert users as well as to increase the accessibility and utility of this data for new users,” said Adrian Borsa, an assistant professor at Scripps’ Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics and principal investigator for the OpenAltimetry project. “We envision a data access system that will broaden the use of the ICESat dataset well beyond its core cryosphere community, and will be ready to serve the upcoming ICESat-2 mission when it begins to return data in 2018,” added Borsa. “Ultimately, we hope that OpenAltimetry will be the platform of choice for hosting similar datasets from other altimetry missions.”

    “OpenTopography has demonstrated that enabling online access to data and processing tools via easy-to-use interfaces can significantly increase data use across a wide range of communities in academia and industry, and can facilitate new research breakthroughs,” said Viswanath Nandigam, associate director for SDSC’s Advanced Cyberinfrastructure Development Lab. Nandigam also is the principal investigator for the OpenTopography project and co-PI of OpenAltimetry.

    On a broader scale, the OpenAltimetry project addresses the primary objective of NASA’s ACCESS (Advancing Collaborative Connections for Earth System Science) program, which is to improve data discovery, accessibility, and usability of NASA’s earth science data using mature technologies and practices, with the goal of advancing Earth science research through increasing efficiencies for current users and enabling access for new users.

    The project leadership team includes Co-I Siri Jodha Singh Khalsa from NSIDC, Co-I Christopher Crosby from UNAVCO, and Co-I Helen Fricker from Scripps. Additional SDSC staff supporting the project include Kai Lin, a senior research programmer; and Minh Phan, a software developer. The OpenAltimetry project is funded under NASA ACCESS grant number NNX16AL89A until June 22, 2018.

    About SDSC

    As an Organized Research Unit of UC San Diego, SDSC is considered a leader in data-intensive computing and cyberinfrastructure, providing resources, services, and expertise to the national research community, including industry and academia. Cyberinfrastructure refers to an accessible, integrated network of computer-based resources and expertise, focused on accelerating scientific inquiry and discovery. SDSC supports hundreds of multidisciplinary programs spanning a wide variety of domains, from earth sciences and biology to astrophysics, bioinformatics, and health IT. SDSC’s Comet joins the Center’s data-intensive Gordon cluster, and are both part of the National Science Foundation’s XSEDE (Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment) program.

    About Scripps Institution of Oceanography

    Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego, is one of the oldest, largest, and most important centers for global science research and education in the world. Now in its second century of discovery, the scientific scope of the institution has grown to include biological, physical, chemical, geological, geophysical, and atmospheric studies of the earth as a system. Hundreds of research programs covering a wide range of scientific areas are under way today on every continent and in every ocean. The institution has a staff of more than 1,400 and annual expenditures of approximately $195 million from federal, state, and private sources. Learn more at http://scripps.ucsd.edu.

    See the full article here .

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    UC San Diego Campus

    The University of California, San Diego (also referred to as UC San Diego or UCSD), is a public research university located in the La Jolla area of San Diego, California, in the United States.[12] The university occupies 2,141 acres (866 ha) near the coast of the Pacific Ocean with the main campus resting on approximately 1,152 acres (466 ha).[13] Established in 1960 near the pre-existing Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego is the seventh oldest of the 10 University of California campuses and offers over 200 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, enrolling about 22,700 undergraduate and 6,300 graduate students. UC San Diego is one of America’s Public Ivy universities, which recognizes top public research universities in the United States. UC San Diego was ranked 8th among public universities and 37th among all universities in the United States, and rated the 18th Top World University by U.S. News & World Report ‘s 2015 rankings.

     
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