You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘mariners’ tag.
Ship logs from the 19th century mariner explorers sailing from Pacific Northwest and California to chart the Arctic and the then new Alaskan territories are being studied to explore changes in Arctic climate over the last century. The University of Washington with the support of the National Archives enlisted the help of volunteer citizen-scientists to examine and transcribe data from the historic ship logs. The 19th century handwriting is too stylized for computers to decipher, so human volunteers have been solicited for the task.
From phys.org: Volunteers transcribing pages from their home computers completed the logbooks from the doomed U.S.S. Jeannette expedition, which left San Francisco in the summer of 1879 bound for the North Pole. The ship soon became trapped in thick ice and drifted for almost two years, during which time the 33-member crew maintained the boat, hunted seals and polar bears – and recorded hourly scientific observations.
The observations help to reveal past weather and climate.
“When we see events like Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Katrina and the recent melt in the Beaufort Sea, people want to know: Has this ever happened before? And that turns out to be a hard question to answer,” Wood said.
Before arriving at the UW in 2004, Wood worked for 25 years as a merchant mariner, so he has firsthand knowledge of maritime weather observations. He also has a longtime interest in studying the Arctic as a climate scientist at the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean, a research center that is a partnership between the UW and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
In 2010, Wood attended a scientific meeting and met Philip Brohan, a climate scientist at the U.K.’s national weather office who had just launched the Old Weather project to transcribe World War I-era Royal Navy logbooks. The two discussed extending it to the U.S. fleet.
Wood approached the National Archives, and an interagency collaboration to allow NOAA access to the logs was established in 2011. OldWeather – Arctic launched last October. Volunteers use historic US ship logbooks to uncover Arctic climate data
Two interns now work at the U.S. National Archives in Washington, D.C., taking archival-quality digital images of each page. So far, the team has photographed more than 275,000 pages containing some 23 million new oceanic, atmospheric and sea-ice observations. The team is ready to add more than 20 ships to the existing fleet of 16. Wood expects that all of the logbooks from 60-some Navy, Coast Guard and Coast Survey ships that traveled to the Arctic before 1950 will be scanned by the end of this year.
Transcriptions are under way thanks to more than 16,000 active Old Weather volunteers, mainly science and history buffs from the U.S., the U.K. and other countries. Volunteers first create an account with Zooniverse, a site that hosts citizen-science projects, and then select Old Weather. A tutorial explains where to find the weather and other information and how to enter it into the database. Volunteers begin as cadets, and then move up through the ranks to lieutenant and captain as they complete transcriptions.
The site’s community forums are active, Wood said. When volunteers discover an unusual incident – say, somebody trying to jump ship through a porthole – they head to the forum to compare notes to find out where that person eventually ended up.
“A lot of people are motivated by being able to see the history unfolding in real time,” Wood said.
Wood and Brohan will analyze the weather observations in completed transcriptions, focusing on the period between 1854 and 1950.
The climate data comes when it’s badly needed, and when it can be particularly useful to scientists. Just five years ago, Wood said, researchers relied on gridded weather observations, so a few new data points gleaned from ship records would be nice, but only a drop in the bucket. Now, sophisticated computer programs can use observations to reconstruct the whole Earth’s atmosphere, and even sparse data points can recreate the weather for an entire region.
Wood is also collaborating with polar scientists at the UW’s Applied Physics Laboratory to add historic sea-ice observations that will help to extend their Arctic sea ice model back into the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Wood notes that the U.S.S. Jeannette became encased in 20-foot-thick sea ice in water that is now ice-free in summer.
“I think these logbooks may change people’s perspective on just how dramatic the current melt back is,” he said.
As with other citizen-science projects, volunteers will be credited on publications. The data is also being added to the International Comprehensive Ocean-Atmosphere Data Set, for use by scientists worldwide. Read more here…
by Mai Armstrong for Working Harbor Committee
BOATLIFT is the story of the largest maritime evacuation in history. Eleven years ago, on 9/11, over 500,000 people were rescued from Manhattan’s sea walls in just under nine hours.
The city was under attack. The subway was shut down, the bridges closed, commuter rail ground to a halt. Hundreds of thousands of people streamed towards the water’s edge, desperate to get to safety, desperate to get off the island.
Ghost-like, thousands came through the dark, smokey mist. They crowded the seawall 10-deep, crying out for rescue.
Help us. We need help.
Then the Coast Guard made the call. All available boats. Anyone able to help with the evacuation of Lower Manhattan, report to Governor’s Island.
One radio call went out and within minutes, hundreds of tugboats, ferries, fishing boats, coast guard cutters, private boats, party boats, small professional diving boats and other vessels converged on the harbor to do what they could.
“If it floated, and it could get there, it got there,” said Mary Gellatly engineer Robin Jones. As the towers fell, the brave community of mariners who work the waters of New York Harbor rushed towards the disaster.
That day, through the thick, acrid smoke came angels from the water.
“I believe everybody’s got a little hero in them. You gotta look in, and it’s in there. It’ll come out, if need to be.” –Robin Jones, engineer Mary Gellatly
So, on this 11th anniversary, let’s also honor and remember these humble maritime heroes; average people who stepped-up when needed, to accomplish the impossible.
by Mai Armstrong for Working Harbor Committee