Category Archives: Photography

Headline of the day: Turning their backs on HRC

From the London Daily Mail:

Selfie obsessed? Astonishing image shows entire crowd with backs turned to snap perfect picture of themselves with Hillary Clinton

  • Crowd of supporters were pictured taking selfies with Hillary Clinton
  • Photo has already been retweeted more than 20,000 times since Sunday
  • Twitter slammed ‘narcissistic ‘ generation and called the picture ‘sad’
  • Clinton had suggested the idea of the group selfie telling the crowd that anyone who wanted the picture to ‘turn around right now’
  • Photo of a similar campaign event from 2008 showed stark contrast
  • Supporters reached out for handshakes and autographs in older picture

Time to book your Northwest Passage cruise

Yep, the Northwest Passage, the impossible dream of early European explorers of an Arctic waters shortcut to Asia, is now open.

From NASA’s Earth Observatory:

BLOG Passage

From NASA:

In August 2016, tourists on a luxury cruise departed Seward Alaska and steered toward the waterways of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. The excursion is one example of the growing human presence in an increasingly ice-free Northwest Passage—the famed high-latitude sea route that connects the northern Atlantic and Pacific oceans. In mid-August 2016, the southern route through the Passage was nearly ice-free.

For most of the year, the Northwest Passage is frozen and impassible. But during the summer months, the ice melts and breaks up to varying degrees. The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi NPP satellite captured the top image of the Northwest Passage on August 9, 2016. A path of open water can be traced along most of the distance from the Amundsen Gulf to Baffin Bay.

“It was a warm winter and spring,” said NASA sea ice scientist Walt Meier. That means that the seasonal ice—ice that grew since the end of last summer, and the type found throughout most of the Passage—is thinner than normal. Thinner ice can melt more easily, break up, and move out of the channels.

A scattering of broken ice is visible just east of Victoria Island. “It looks pretty thin and disintegrating,” Meier said. “I think an ice-strengthened ship could get through without too much trouble.”

The open water this year flows along the southern route, or “Amundsen route.” It’s not unusual for the southern route to open up to some degree, as it is more protected than the northern route and receives less sea ice directly from the Arctic Ocean.

At some point in almost every summer since 2007, conditions along the southern passage have been fairly open. There have been exceptions; the second image shows the Northwest Passage on August 9, 2013, as observed by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Aqua satellite. Ice that year was relatively extensive. Turn on the image comparison tool to see the difference.

What’s left of the ice in 2016 is opening up fast. Meier expects that the Northwest Passage will open up completely in the next couple of weeks. Moreover, a strong Arctic cyclone appears to be approaching the archipelago. It could push the ice around and further open up still-blocked channels. Or, it could have the opposite effect and push in ice from the north.

Australia’s vital mangroves dying, climate blamed

From NASA’s Earth Observatory:

BLOG Mangroves

From NASA:

Satellite imagery reveals a severe die-off of mangroves along Australia’s northern coast. More than 7,000 hectares (27 square miles) of mangroves have dried up, research indicates. The tree deaths come amid high temperatures that have also been linked to massive coral bleaching and kelp forest deaths in the region.

These natural-color images were acquired on July 15, 2014, and July 20, 2016, by the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8. They capture the extent of mangrove die-offs on a strip of beach along the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Notable tree loss occurred between November and December 2015, said Norman Duke, leader of the Mangrove Research Hub at Australia’s James Cook University. Between 5 and 25 percent of trees have died along more than 1000 kilometers (620 miles) of shoreline and fringing inlets.

There are few direct human pressures in this isolated region, said Duke. However, the die-off correlates with record-high daytime and nighttime temperatures in the region, according to the Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology. From January through April, rainfall measured 41 percent less than average for that period—the lowest it’s been since 1961, the Bureau reported. The heat arrived on the heels of an unusually long dry season and a 20-centimeter drop in local sea levels that lasted for a month, said Duke.

“These factors coincided in the critical months…when habitat tolerances were at their limit,” Duke wrote in an email. He pointed to man-made climate change as a main cause.

Mangrove trees and shrubs grow at tropical and subtropical latitudes. A dense network of stilt-like roots allows them to thrive in shallow waters. It also provides shelter to many species of fish and turtles. And it helps shelter the dugong, a threatened species that is a relative of the manatee.

Mangrove forests fortify the coast, providing a buffer against storm surges by holding sand together with their roots and causing sediment to build up around them. Scientists like Duke worry that without the mangroves, Australia’s shores could become highly vulnerable to erosion, especially if tropical cyclones hit the region over the next decade.

Filmmakers: Stop repressing folks who film cops

And an amen to that!

From the Guardian:

A group of more than 40 documentarians, including eight Oscar winners, has called on the justice department to investigate the “harassment” and “targeting” of citizen journalists who record episodes of police violence.

Noting that the citizens who filmed the deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castille, Freddie Gray and Eric Garner were all subsequently arrested, the film-makers wrote in an open letter that it is “vital we defend the rights of these individuals to use video as a means of criticizing unjust police activity.”

The undersigned filmmakers include Going Clear director Alex Gibney, Citizenfour director Laura Poitras, Cartel Land director Matt Heineman and The House I Live In director Eugene Jarecki.

“Mainstream media has paid ample attention to the images captured by these citizen journalists. Largely, it has ignored the methods in which they were recorded and distributed, and the penalties for those involved,” the letter states.

Like in other high profile police killings from the last two years, the cases of Sterling and Castile, which inspired nationwide protests throughout much of July, both gained attention largely through the release of bystander video.

Heavens above!: The Aurora Borealis from space

From NASA’s Earth Observatory, a stunning view of the Northern Lights from the International Space Station:

3 February 2012, Nikon D3S, ISO 320, 28 mm, f/1.4, 0.6 sec

3 February 2012, Nikon D3S, ISO 320, 28 mm, f/1.4, 0.6 sec

From NASA:

An astronaut aboard the International Space Station adjusted the camera for night imaging and captured the green veils and curtains of an aurora that spanned thousands of kilometers over Quebec, Canada.

Snow and ice in this winter image (February 2012) reflect enough light from stars, the Moon, and the aurora to reveal details of the landscape. On the lower right, we see a circle of ice on the frozen reservoir that now occupies Manicouagan impact crater (70 kilometers in diameter). City lights reveal small settlements, such as Labrador City (an iron-ore mining town) and the Royal Canadian Air Force base at Goose Bay on the Labrador Sea.

The aurora borealis (northern lights) is the light that glows when charged particles from the magnetosphere (the magnetic space around Earth) are accelerated by storms from the Sun. The particles collide with atoms in the atmosphere; the green and red colors, for instance, are caused by the release of photons by oxygen atoms.

The fainter arc of light that parallels the horizon is known as airglow. This is another manifestation of the interaction of the Earth’s atmosphere with radiation from the Sun.

The atmosphere shields life on Earth from the Sun’s harmful radiation. It also causes small asteroids to burn up or catastrophically explode before hitting the ground. Larger asteroids can occasionally penetrate the atmosphere and collide with our rocky planet—with dramatic effects.

Geologists know that a large asteroid slammed into Earth roughly 214 million years ago, creating a crater about 100 kilometers (60 miles) across on the landmass that is now part of Canada. The impact caused a shock wave to radiate across Earth’s surface, followed closely by high-velocity winds. Near the impact point, wind speeds would have exceeded 1000 kilometers (600 miles) per hour. The shock wave and air blast would have severely damaged and killed plants and animals out to distances of approximately 560 kilometers (350 miles)—as far as Goose Bay. After erosion by glaciers and other processes over millions of years, the Manicouagan crater is now about 60 kilometers (37 miles) wide.

Berkeley Street Scenes: A note on the sidewalk

Spotted by the Ashby BART Station in Berkeley whilst walking to the post office late this afternoon:

4 August 2016 Panasonic DMC-ZS19, 100 ISO, 1/400 sec, 31.3mm, f/5.4

4 August 2016 Panasonic DMC-ZS19, 100 ISO, 1/400 sec, 31.3mm, f/5.4

Images of a California wildfire as seen from space

From NASA’s Earth Observatory, with high resolution images available at the link:

BLOG Cal fires one

For nearly 11 days in late July and early August, wildfire has been burning near the California coast between Monterey and Big Sur. The fire started along Soberanes Creek in Garrapata State Park on July 22, 2016, and has since moved into Los Padres National Forest. According to news reports, CalFire suggested that in a worst-case scenario, the fire might not be fully extinguished until the end of August.

On July 30, 2016, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured a natural-color image [above] of the Soberanes fire as smoke blew north and east over the California Coast Ranges and into the Central Valley.

A day earlier, the Operational Land Imager [OLI] on the Landsat 8 satellite acquired higher-resolution images [below] of the fire. In the natural-color image, thick smoke mostly obscures the land surface. The second image — combining shortwave infrared, near-infrared, and green light [OLI bands 7-5-3] — penetrates the smoke to provide a clearer view of the burn scar. In this false-color view, active fires are bright red and orange, scarred land is dark red, and intact vegetation and human development are shades of green. [Note that the active fires, mostly on the south and east sides, are easier to see in the downloadable large image.]

BLOG Cal fires 2

BLOG Cal fires 3

According to InciWeb, the Soberanes fire had burned 40,618 acres (larger than San Francisco) and just 18 percent of the perimeter was contained by firefighters by noon on August 1. At least 57 residences and 11 outbuildings have been destroyed. Six state parks have been closed, and hundreds of people have been evacuated. One man has died.

More than 5,200 firefighting personnel were involved in beating back the flames. The effort has been particularly difficult because of the steep, rugged terrain with little road access. The landscape is also primed to burn due to high temperatures, low humidity, and “an above-average cured grass crop,” according to CalFire. Meteorologists have noted an unusual local pattern where humidity drops at night (as low as 5 percent)—as opposed to rising, as it does in most other locations—causing the flames to grow more after dark.