Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Mountain Glacier Melt to Contribute 12 Centimeters to World Sea-Level Increases by 2100

ScienceDaily (Jan. 11, 2011) — Melt off from small mountain glaciers and ice caps will contribute about 12 centimetres to world sea-level increases by 2100, according to UBC research published this week in Nature Geoscience.

Aerial photo of Mount Garibaldi, Diamond Head with Howe Sound and Squamish British Columbia below. Melt off from small mountain glaciers and ice caps will contribute about 12 centimetres to world sea-level increases by 2100, according to University of British Columbia research. (Credit: iStockphoto/Douglas Burne)

The largest contributors to projected global sea-level increases are glaciers in Arctic Canada, Alaska and landmass bound glaciers in the Antarctic. Glaciers in the European Alps, New Zealand, the Caucasus, Western Canada and the Western United Sates--though small absolute contributors to global sea-level increases--are projected to lose more than 50 per cent of their current ice volume.

The study modelled volume loss and melt off from 120,000 mountain glaciers and ice caps, and is one of the first to provide detailed projections by region. Currently, melt from smaller mountain glaciers and ice caps is responsible for a disproportionally large portion of sea level increases, even though they contain less than one per cent of all water on Earth bound in glacier ice.

"There is a lot of focus on the large ice sheets but very few global scale studies quantifying how much melt to expect from these smaller glaciers that make up about 40 percent of the entire sea-level rise that we observe right now," says Valentina Radic, a postdoctoral researcher with the Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences and lead author of the study.

Increases in sea levels caused by the melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, and the thermal expansion of water, are excluded from the results.

Radic and colleague Regine Hock at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, modelled future glacier melt based on temperature and precipitation projections from 10 global climate models used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

"While the overall sea level increase projections in our study are on par with IPCC studies, our results are more detailed and regionally resolved," says Radic. "This allows us to get a better picture of projected regional ice volume change and potential impacts on local water supplies, and changes in glacier size distribution."

Global projections of sea level rises from mountain glacier and ice cap melt from the IPCC range between seven and 17 centimetres by the end of 2100. Radic's projections are only slightly higher, in the range of seven to 18 centimetres.

Radic's projections don't include glacier calving--the production of icebergs. Calving of tide-water glaciers may account for 30 per cent to 40 per cent of their total mass loss.

"Incorporating calving into the models of glacier mass changes on regional and global scale is still a challenge and a major task for future work," says Radic.

However, the new projections include detailed projection of melt off from small glaciers surrounding the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, which have so far been excluded from, or only estimated in, global assessments.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Getmapping Launch 'WFS' - Web Feature Service for OS MasterMap®

Hartley Wintney, UK, January 10, 2011 - Getmapping has launched a WFS service to stream Ordnance Survey MasterMap®, over the Internet. A WFS feed of MasterMap will reduce network overhead and the need to manage and update this very large, complex and constantly changing dataset.

WFS is a standard protocol from the Open Geospatial Consortium for streaming georeferenced vector mapping data over the Internet to web based applications, GIS and CAD software. A WFS map feed enables users to interrogate, update and create map features whereas WMS feeds used by online mapping portals such as Google Maps only display an image, which users cannot edit or analyse. WFS is very useful for gaining access to the features and intelligence built into highly detailed vector mapping such as OS MasterMap.

Getmapping MasterMap WFSThe new Getmapping WFS service is priced progressively and aimed at organisations which are already heavy users of MasterMap, such as Government departments, Local Authorities and Utilities. WFS feeds offer several distinct advantages over traditional methods of delivery i.e. compressed media files. Firstly users can be sure that they are always referencing the latest data, there is no longer a need to receive updates and load them on to local servers. This also means that there is less network overhead and less time actively managing the data, which can deliver significant savings.

"We have had great success with our WMS feeds of Ordnance Survey Mapping and our own aerial photography, the WFS service for a key mapping dataset like MasterMap was the next logical step," said Tristram Cary, Managing Director of Getmapping. "We already have one customer testing the service for their Professional GIS seats and early indications are that this could be a route to considerable savings in IT overhead," continued Cary.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

'Iceberg Cowboy' Finds Archway in Middle of Ocean

Forget moving mountains. Marine biologist Andrew Perry moves icebergs. And his latest adventure led to the discovery of an icy archway, right in the middle of the ocean.

Perry was out trawling for icebergs with Oceans Limited, a Canadian company that identifies which of the tremendous floaters are drifting towards stationary deep-water oil rigs, when he found the arch -- think Stargate meets portal to Narnia.

"It was a beautiful day, hardly a wave on the water. And then there it was -- a big beautiful arch," Perry told FoxNews.com. "No one had seen anything like this. We thought it was amazing."

Icebergs routinely break off Greenland and float down the Labrador coast, Perry explained, a corridor he called "iceberg alley." Along the way, they post a direct threat to deep-water oil installations. Though they don't move particularly quickly -- typically one to four knots -- they've got enough bulk to do major damage if they hit anything, he explained.

"We recorded some upwards of 350,000 tons," Perry said. Oceans Limited moves smaller icebergs by training water cannons on them for hours. "That's for the smaller ones, we call them growlers," Perry told FoxNews.com. It's much cheaper to move the icebergs, even the very large ones, than to disconnect the oil rig and move it, he pointed out: Moving a rig costs millions, while operating a small boat costs about $25,000 per day.

So Perry's company either lassos the big boys with a single boat or corrals them with a net dragged between two boats. Icebergs don't move particularly fast, Perry explained, so changing their course can take quite a while, but they don't have to move too many each year.

"Depending on the ice season, they may have to tow 10 to 20 ... during the 2009 season we profiled around 60 icebergs to get computer generated 3D images," Perry said.

But he had never run into an iceberg like this one before.

Icebergs are often seen as just giant chunks of compressed water, not stunning works of natural art. Yet beautifully sculpted icebergs like the one Perry found are actually fairly common, thanks to the natural forces of the seas and the skies, explained Ted Scambos, lead scientist for the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

"Complex, sculptured icebergs like this are usually formed from ice that broke off of fast-flowing glaciers," Scambos told FoxNews.com. "It starts off as a rugged piece of ice that waves and sunshine then sculpt."

Sure, but how did this iceberg form in such a stunning fashion? Wave action, Scambos explained, and it's more common than you might think.

"As the waves begin to pound out a dimple in the ice facewall, it focuses the wave energy, leading to more rapid erosion at the center. So, with time, the waves carve through the face to the other side," Scambos told FoxNews.com. "It's not the first one I've seen, but it's the most artistic."

Icebergs are surprisingly noisy as well, according to Perry. They're constantly moving and cracking, he said. The arch "sounded like shotguns being fired off all the time, due to the ice cracking."

And what to do with all of that ice? Perry and his fellow biologists have a unique use for icebergs: They put them in cocktails.

"To be honest it's the cleanest water you can get. The air bubbles trapped in it are under so much pressure the ice fizzes when it melts."

"Who doesn't want 500,000-year-old ice in their drink?" he joked.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Arcgis.com bigger than Flickr?

Ok, so ESRI confirmed that there were indeed 400 million maps created on arcgis.com in October, but I am still not convinced…

It is not that is impossible for ESRI to achieve such growth in one month, it’s that there just isn’t any (publicly accessible) evidence to suggest that the number is anywhere close. To illustrate my point, let’s compare Arcgis.com to another website with massive amounts of user-generated content. Since there is no such website in the GIS space, let’s take Flickr. I know that this is not “apples to apples” comparison, but since we are comparing only the amount of user-generated content it will work.

Here is what we know about Flickr: According to Compete, Flickr enjoyed almost 20 million unique visitors in October who uploaded more than 3000 images per minute. If we do a rough calculation (3000 photos * 1440 minutes * 31 days) we will arrive at 133,920,000 photos for October.

Now let’s look at Arcgis: Compete shows roughly 33K unique visitors for October and the numbers from Alexa are not much different. As I noted earlier, ESRI claims 400,000,000 user-generated maps for this period. This means that every unique visitor had to have created over 12K maps.

Either I am totally off in my calculations or Arcgis.com is 30% larger than Flickr in terms of user-generated content! This is excellent news for map geeks all over the world – making maps is finally more popular than uploading photos.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

London Underwater Tube Map. London by the Sea

Wet commutes forecast as parts of London predicted to be underwater by the end of the century

Large areas of London could be underwater by 2100 as a direct result of climate change, research has shown.

Development charity Practical Action has released an alternative tube map that highlights the impact climate change and rising sea levels could have on the capital.

If climate change talks scheduled to begin in Cancun this week are not successful, it could lead to a 4C rise in global temperatures by the end of the century. This, in turn, could lead to a 4m rise in sea levels proving catastrophic for London and potentially devastating for developing countries.

The "London Underground Map 2100" highlights those areas that could be underwater if no action on climate change is taken including Westminster and the Houses of Parliament, London Bridge, Embankment, Sloane Square and Canary Wharf.

All of which would mean people would potentially face a swim rather than a walk to their jobs in the city and cause embarassment for the UK on the world stage and affect how London is perceived for business and finance.

Margaret Gardner, Director, Practical Action said "if no action is taken against the temperature and sea levels rise as predicted, large areas of London could be underwater by the end of the century - a frightening thought. But what's more frightening are the effects that will be felt in developing countries where people are already living on the front line of climate change and experiencing the worst effects of floods, droughts and extreme temperatures."

"In London we have an insurance industry and the necessary capital to do something about increased flooding risk. We can build barriers and do whatever is necessary. But in Dhaka and other cities in the developing world, there isn't the spare cash to just invest in infrastructure to help people to adapt to climate change. So the answer has to be to avoid climate change in the first place."

"Practical Action works extensively with communities living in these areas helping them to adapt to their changing climate but without action on climate change, the consequences will be too catastrophic to overcome."

Practical Action works with poor communities around the world helping them to adapt to the effects of climate change. From teaching Bangladeshi villagers to build floating gardens on flood waters in order to feed their families, to introducing camels in drought-prone regions of Kenya.

For more information and to sign up to Practical Action's climate change campaign 'Face up to 4C' please visit www.practicalaction.org/faceup.

For further information, please contact Abbie Upton, Practical Action Media Officer, on 01926 634510 or 07714 205342.

How London's Tube map could look in 2010 if climate change talks in Cancun are not successful, leading to a 4m rise in sea levels - click to open hi-res PDF version
Notes for Editors:

Practical Action believes that the right idea, however small, can change lives.

Practical Action is an international development charity with a difference, working together with some of the world's poorest women, men and children, helping to alleviate poverty in the developing world through the innovative use of technology.

Practical Action's particular strength is its 'simple' approach: finding out what people are doing and helping them to do it better. This enables poor communities to build their own knowledge and skills to produce sustainable and practical solutions: driving their own development.

Whether enabling women and men in Darfur to feed their families, providing people in Bangladesh with the chance to control the impact of flooding on their lives or working with remote communities in Peru to introduce electricity, Practical Action's activities are always people focused, locally relevant and environmentally sensitive, offering tangible ways out of poverty.

Practical Action won The Ashden Award for Light and Power in 2007 for its micro-hydro work in Peru, bringing electricity to over 30,000 people living in remote Andean villages.

*Source material here:

* http://legacy.london.gov.uk/mayor/strategies/sds/docs/regional-flood-risk09.pdf