A subsurface array of sensors known as the Overturning in the Subpolar North Atlantic Program (OSNAP), extends from Canada’s Labrador Coast to the tip of Greenland, crosses south of Iceland and finally ends near the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. It measures the currents that move from the ocean depths to the warmer surface areas, a process that exchanges somewhere near 15.3 million cubic meters of water every second. As much as I want this sensor array to be a solid string of instruments, it’s actually 53 different moorings of independent sensor clusters measuring temperature, salinity and water speed. You can see in the diagram below that the sensors are arranged in 3 distinct clusters – one across the Labrador Sea, another spanning the Irminger Sea and a final cluster from the Iceland Basin to Scotland’s Rockall Trough. Featured Image: Recovering the flotation sphere for mooring CF4 with an iceberg in the background. Pictured from left to right: Andrew Davies, Pete Liarikos, John Kemp and Brian Hogue. Photo by Isabela Alexander-Astiz Le Bras
When we speak of exploration in the modern era, many people are surprised to learn how much is left unknown on our own planet, much less in the cosmos beyond. While we see hyper-realistic renderings of deep space entities and 3D maps of the ocean floor with some regularity, our sense of omniscience is a tenuous one. The reality is that we’re constantly discovering new things, both near and far away. In 2018, scientists and explorers made huge strides to expand our understanding of the world and create the technology and science that will drive discoveries for years to come. As we hurdle into the new year, we’ve assembled our favorite exploration milestones from 2018, from light years away to the deepest parts of the sea. SpaceX Double Booster Landing The last time so many people watched an aerospace event together was the Felix Baumgartner jump in 2012. Then, in February 2018, we all collectively held our breath and were treated to one of the most unexpectedly beautiful sights of the year as twin boosters from the SpaceX Falcon Heavy touched down simultaneously. With 21 launches (18 of them commercial) last year, SpaceX confirmed its position as the leader in...Read...
Using satellite imagery and machine learning, we can now monitor global fishing fleets in near real time, including the previously opaque world of fishing on the high seas. It’s estimated that without government subsidies, over half of this $8 Billion market would be unprofitable, including all deep-sea trawling, a perennial culprit of extensive ecosystem damage. The high seas — marine waters that fall outside national jurisdiction — cover 43% of the Earth’s surface and the fishing of its depths is dominated by 5 countries: China, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Spain. In their paper “The economics of fishing the high seas“, the authors dive into the technical details of their economic analysis and while it can get pretty dry in spots, the use of satellite imagery with advance machine learning is an incredible application of technology.