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One-fifth of Earth's ocean floor is now mapped – BBC News

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We’ve just become a little less ignorant about Planet Earth.

The initiative that seeks to galvanise the creation of a full map of the ocean floor says one-fifth of this task has now been completed.

When the Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project was launched in 2016, only 6% of the global ocean bottom had been surveyed to what might be called modern standards.

That number now stands at 19%, up from 16% in just the last year.

Some 14.5 million sq km of new bathymetric (depth) data was included in the GEBCO grid in 2019 – an area equivalent to almost twice that of Australia.

It does, however, still leave a great swathe of the planet unmapped to an acceptable degree.

“Today we stand at the 19% level. That means we’ve got another 81% of the oceans still to survey, still to map. That’s an area about twice the size of Mars that we have to capture in the next decade,” project director Jamie McMichael-Phillips told BBC News.

The map at the top of this page illustrates the challenge faced by GEBCO in the coming years.

Black represents those areas where we have yet to get direct echosounding measurements of the shape of the ocean floor. Blues correspond to water depth (deeper is purple, shallower is lighter blue).

It’s not true to say we have no idea of what’s in the black zones; satellites have actually taught us a great deal. Certain spacecraft carry altimeter instruments that can infer seafloor topography from the way its gravity sculpts the water surface above – but this only gives a best resolution at over a kilometre, and Seabed 2030 has a desire for a resolution of at least 100m everywhere.

Better seafloor maps are needed for a host of reasons.

They are essential for navigation, of course, and for laying underwater cables and pipelines.

They are also important for fisheries management and conservation, because it is around the underwater mountains that wildlife tends to congregate. Each seamount is a biodiversity hotspot.

In addition, the rugged seafloor influences the behaviour of ocean currents and the vertical mixing of water.

This is information required to improve the models that forecast future climate change – because it is the oceans that play a critical role in moving heat around the planet. And if you want to understand precisely how sea-levels will rise in different parts of the world, good ocean-floor maps are a must.

Much of the data that’s been imported into the GEBCO grid recently has been in existence for some time but was “sitting on a shelf” out of the public domain. The companies, institutions and governments that were holding this information have now handed it over – and there is probably a lot more of this hidden resource still to be released.

But new acquisitions will also be required. Some of these will come from a great crowdsourcing effort – from ships, big and small, routinely operating their echo-sounding equipment as they transit the globe. Even small vessels – fishing boats and yachts – can play their part by attaching data-loggers to their sonar and navigation equipment.

One very effective strategy is evidenced by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), which operates in the more remote parts of the globe – and that is simply to mix up the routes taken by ships.

“Very early on we adopted the ethos that data should be collected on passage – on the way to where we were going, not just at the site of interest,” explained BAS scientist Dr Rob Larter.

“A beautiful example of this is the recent bathymetric map of the Drake Passage area (between South America and Antarctica). A lot of that was acquired by different research projects as they fanned out and moved back and forth to the places they were going.”

New technology will be absolutely central to the GEBCO quest.

Ocean Infinity, a prominent UK-US company that conducts seafloor surveys, is currently building a fleet of robotic surface vessels through a subsidiary it calls Armada. This start-up’s MD, Dan Hook, says low-cost, uncrewed vehicles may be the only way to close some of the gaps in the more out-of-the-way locations in the 2030 grid.

He told BBC News: “When you look at the the mapping of the seabed in areas closer to shore, you see the business case very quickly. Whether it’s for wind farms or cable-laying – there are lots of people that want to know what’s down there. But when it’s those very remote areas of the planet, the case then is really only a scientific one.”

Jamie McMichael-Phillips is confident his project’s target can be met if everyone pulls together.

“I am confident, but to do it we will need partnerships. We need governments, we need industry, we need academics, we need philanthropists, and we need citizen scientists. We need all these individuals to come together if we’re to deliver an ocean map that is absolutely fundamental and essential to humankind.”

GEBCO stands for General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans. It is the only intergovernmental organisation with a mandate to map the entire ocean floor. The latest status of its Seabed 2030 project was announced to coincide with World Hydrography Day.

Jonathan.Amos-INTERNET@bbc.co.uk and follow me on Twitter: @BBCAmos

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Newfoundland and Labrador premier tries to allay border fears – SaltWire Network

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ST. JOHN’S, N.L. —

Peter Jackson

Local Journalism Iniative Reporter

peter.jackson@thetelegram.com

@pjackson_nl

As controversy continues to swirl around the prospect of opening Canada’s domestic borders, Newfoundland and Labrador’s premier and health minister are striving to allay fears.

On Wednesday, the premier fielded questions about a date that was tossed out last month around the same time the province announced it was joining an Atlantic bubble.

The opening of Atlantic regional borders, which allows permanent residents of all four provinces to travel freely without self-isolating, took effect July 3.

But Dwight Ball said a proposed opening of all provincial borders on July 17 has not been part of recent discussions.

“We know that around the province right now there’s considerable fear in opening up those borders,” he said this week. “We recognize from a Newfoundland and Labrador perspective that the areas that will line up and have more travellers come into our province would be from provinces like Alberta, provinces like Ontario.”

However, he said there has been talk lately about when, or even if, that may happen.

“First and foremost, I can assure people in Newfoundland and Labrador, it will be the safety of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians that will be the priority and will be what will influence the decision made by all of us before we ease any more travel restrictions.”

Ban not total

Ball also touched on a common misconception about travel into and out of the province since a travel ban was implemented on May 15. At least 8,000 exemptions have been granted to non-residents, for a variety of reasons. That doesn’t include the fact that residents are free to travel outside the province and return again.

“Keep in mind we have a lot of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians that leave the province and go visit families in Alberta and Ontario and other places,” he said. “They can leave. There’s no restriction on leaving. The restriction is when they come back.”

Any person arriving from outside the Atlantic bubble, including those who’ve passed through the region from elsewhere, are still required to self-isolate for 14 days.

The premier also clarified that five new cases in P.E.I. last weekend stemmed from a U.S. citizen who had arrived legally in Halifax and was picked up by family members from P.E.I. The island province turned him back at its border, so he returned to self-isolate in Halifax. Another P.E.I. resident was confirmed positive on Thursday, stemming from the same cluster.

“I think the officials within all of the Maritime provinces — New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and P.E.I. — will clearly say and articulate that what happened with this traveller was not at all connected to the Atlantic bubble,” Ball said.

New Brunswick also reported one new case on Thursday, stemming from travel.

Air travel

Meanwhile, a nursing professor at Memorial University had some thoughts this week on the safety of flying with strangers as airlines start filling planes again.

The issue made headlines last weekend when a Halifax man decided to walk off a plane rather than fly in close quarters with passengers from outside the Atlantic bubble.

“I have mixed feelings about airplanes, and I travel a lot,” Donna Moralejo, who specializes in infection control, said in an interview.

Moralejo said the air in a plane is actually safer than most households because of built-in filtration systems. But surface contacts must be avoided, and close proximity means masks are essential.

“It’s probably not as unsafe as it sounds, given the airflow, but it’s less than ideal, especially on longer flights,” she said.

Peter Jackson is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering health for The Telegram.

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Newfoundland and Labrador premier tries to allay border fears – The Telegram

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ST. JOHN’S, N.L. —

Peter Jackson

Local Journalism Iniative Reporter

peter.jackson@thetelegram.com

@pjackson_nl

As controversy continues to swirl around the prospect of opening Canada’s domestic borders, Newfoundland and Labrador’s premier and health minister are striving to allay fears.

On Wednesday, the premier fielded questions about a date that was tossed out last month around the same time the province announced it was joining an Atlantic bubble.

The opening of Atlantic regional borders, which allows permanent residents of all four provinces to travel freely without self-isolating, took effect July 3.

But Dwight Ball said a proposed opening of all provincial borders on July 17 has not been part of recent discussions.

“We know that around the province right now there’s considerable fear in opening up those borders,” he said this week. “We recognize from a Newfoundland and Labrador perspective that the areas that will line up and have more travellers come into our province would be from provinces like Alberta, provinces like Ontario.”

However, he said there has been talk lately about when, or even if, that may happen.

“First and foremost, I can assure people in Newfoundland and Labrador, it will be the safety of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians that will be the priority and will be what will influence the decision made by all of us before we ease any more travel restrictions.”

Ban not total

Ball also touched on a common misconception about travel into and out of the province since a travel ban was implemented on May 15. At least 8,000 exemptions have been granted to non-residents, for a variety of reasons. That doesn’t include the fact that residents are free to travel outside the province and return again.

“Keep in mind we have a lot of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians that leave the province and go visit families in Alberta and Ontario and other places,” he said. “They can leave. There’s no restriction on leaving. The restriction is when they come back.”

Any person arriving from outside the Atlantic bubble, including those who’ve passed through the region from elsewhere, are still required to self-isolate for 14 days.

The premier also clarified that five new cases in P.E.I. last weekend stemmed from a U.S. citizen who had arrived legally in Halifax and was picked up by family members from P.E.I. The island province turned him back at its border, so he returned to self-isolate in Halifax. Another P.E.I. resident was confirmed positive on Thursday, stemming from the same cluster.

“I think the officials within all of the Maritime provinces — New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and P.E.I. — will clearly say and articulate that what happened with this traveller was not at all connected to the Atlantic bubble,” Ball said.

New Brunswick also reported one new case on Thursday, stemming from travel.

Air travel

Meanwhile, a nursing professor at Memorial University had some thoughts this week on the safety of flying with strangers as airlines start filling planes again.

The issue made headlines last weekend when a Halifax man decided to walk off a plane rather than fly in close quarters with passengers from outside the Atlantic bubble.

“I have mixed feelings about airplanes, and I travel a lot,” Donna Moralejo, who specializes in infection control, said in an interview.

Moralejo said the air in a plane is actually safer than most households because of built-in filtration systems. But surface contacts must be avoided, and close proximity means masks are essential.

“It’s probably not as unsafe as it sounds, given the airflow, but it’s less than ideal, especially on longer flights,” she said.

Peter Jackson is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering health for The Telegram.

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4 thriller objects spotted in deep room, compared with nearly anything at any time seen – haveeruonline

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Astronomers are baffled about 4 objects that were noticed in deep room by a enormous radio telescopes, stories mentioned.

LiveScience.com documented on Thursday that the highly circular objects that appear vibrant alongside the edges had been found when astronomers reviewed archival info from radio telescopes in Australia and India.

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Kristine Spekkens, an astronomer from the Royal Military services College or university of Canada and Queen’s College, told the science internet site that the objects look to be a little something not nevertheless probed.

“It could also be that these are an extension of earlier known course of objects that we have not been in a position to discover,” she claimed. Researchers have referred to the objects as ORCs, or “odd radio circles.”

The Australian astronomers in the study noted that the objects ended up uncovered though functioning on the Evolutionary Map of the Universe Pilot, an all-sky continuum study, working with a square kilometer array pathfinder telescope.

The objects ended up described as circular, “edge-brightened discs.” They do not “correspond to any recognized style of object.” Two of them are reasonably close together, which could point out some relation. Two also attribute “an optical galaxy in the vicinity of the center of the radio emission.”

“We speculate that they could represent a spherical shock wave from an more-galactic transient occasion, or the outflow, or a remnant, from a radio galaxy considered finish-on,” the experts wrote.

The scholarly papers ended up posted on Arxiv.org.

The paper lists a several possible explanations but dismisses them. They theorized that it could be a supernova remnant, galactic planetary nebula or a deal with-on star-forming galaxy or ring galaxy.

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The face-on star-forming galaxy principle, for case in point, was dashed, in part, owing to the “lack of measurable optical emission” in comparison to the radio emission.

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