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Ocean Map Charts Path of Human Destruction

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#1
A. Fenix

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Not to be viewed by the faint of heart...but thought some of you would be interested in both the map and the article. The map name is a little over the top, but makes its point.

http://sciencenow.sc...full/2008/214/2

http://www.nceas.ucsb.edu/GlobalMarine

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#2
Hans van der Maarel

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Not to be viewed by the faint of heart...but thought some of you would be interested in both the map and the article. The map name is a little over the top, but makes its point.

http://sciencenow.sc...full/2008/214/2

http://www.nceas.ucsb.edu/GlobalMarine

analisa


Interesting links. Coincidentally, I was reading a newspaper article this weekend about 2 floating junkyards in the northern Pacific. Currents bring hundreds of tonnes of floating junk to 2 areas, together larger than the US. That was a big eye-opener for me.
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#3
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Hans, I did some research on that gyre in the Pacific - and I have a feeling that it has been a bit blown over the top by media. They make it sound like that it is full of junk, and the size of Texas or something - so then I thought I would see if I could find any remote sensing images of it, which I didn't find. It should be easy to spot if it is that big.

I did find a few photos from there, and it seems like there is a lot of junk, but it is not like looking out over an island of waste, there is still a lot of open water inbetween the pieces of plastic.

If it is that much, you'd wonder too why no-one harvests it, it would be a lot of waste to burn for fuel. (plastics have a fairly high energy content)
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#4
rudy

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Sorry for diverting the topic somewhat but the floating junk thing makes me think of Neal Stephenson's 1992 science fiction novel Snow Crash. If you haven't read it yet, you should. Among other things it describes a Google Earth type application. Interesting book.

#5
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If it is that much, you'd wonder too why no-one harvests it, it would be a lot of waste to burn for fuel. (plastics have a fairly high energy content)


1: collect floating junk
2: ....
3: profit!

:rolleyes:

The article didn't take the sensationalist approach, but it did point out there's an awful lot of stuff out there.
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#6
frax

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For that global map (loads of interesting GIS data for download btw, for us working with global issues, including the results from the study) - I wonder if the projection they are using is really the best. It looks like something like Eckert IV, which is equal area. Goode's interrupted homolosine, in the version that breaks over the continents, might be an option, but the polar seas would be all broken up then - and they contain some very valuable information here.

I think there might be some less mainstream interrupted projection that could be an alternative, but then there is the problem with software support... Something like Dymaxion/fuller for oceans...
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#7
tyrian

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Hi all, I'm Shaun Walbridge, a researcher from NCEAS and the primary geographer / cartographer on the project. The project is fairly complex under the hood, and it was a challenge finding a balance of how to present this information to a non-scientific audience. We settled with the classification scheme used, with clear colors which had good contrast. The break values are derived from an existing study of corral reefs and their degradation status.

To answer your questions frax: We're using the Mollweide projection (equal area, pseudocylindrical) for all of our data. I tried Goode's Homolosine in both the continent- and ocean- breaking versions, but most of the detail in our data is near the coasts, and it felt awkward. Also, we wanted this map to communicate to a general audience, and it must be said that using a 'normal' projection is easier to communicate to normal folks. I chose Mollweide based on the work of USGS on global map projections-- Goode's and Mollweide are two recommended projections to minimize distortion and retain area.

I love the idea of a Dymaxion map of our data, but as you mentioned, the software support problem was a difficult challenge. We used a complex workflow involving many tools (ArcGIS, GRASS, GDAL to name a few) and we had to have projection support in each of these tools for our analysis. Now that we're 'just' making maps, we could do some fun stuff. Suggestions are welcome, and any critiques of the map itself are appreciated.

cheers,
Shaun

#8
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Hi Shaun,

Welcome, and thanks for the background information! I would be curious on how much attention you have been getting now, since this has broken all over the place.

Actually, you guys are stealing the show for us (UN Environment Programme) a bit too - we are launching a report on the exact same theme next week, with a lot of maps by yours truly - but with no impact map like this...

:)
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#9
tyrian

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Welcome, and thanks for the background information! I would be curious on how much attention you have been getting now, since this has broken all over the place.

Actually, you guys are stealing the show for us (UN Environment Programme) a bit too - we are launching a report on the exact same theme next week, with a lot of maps by yours truly - but with no impact map like this...

Hi Frax,

I think the main thing the media has heavily reported on is the idea our oceans are impacted by our actions, and are not an inexhaustible resource. This is a theme that has been raised in the past, but our impact map makes into something concrete. My hope is that the science behind the map (including the many threat layers we've created or collected) will help push this issue much further along, and hopefully future work in this area will receive more attention. We did collaborate with UNEP for this map, and I'm guessing your upcoming report will get more attention since the media is attune to the issue.

In terms of attention, we were fortunate enough to get a few big names, though most of it has been news wire reprints more than in-depth journalism. We've had about 15,000 people download the KML, and a bit more visit our website for further information.

Best of luck with your upcoming release: I'd love to see your maps, please post links when they're up!

#10
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Shaun - I think you'll see too that the map is very powerful and that it is used in a lot of the wire reprints.

On the coloring - maybe the current color scheme might be too alarmist. Depending on how you want to angle it! Now I haven't actually read your study (which I should do), but it is easy to read/interpret the map as orange-red colors mean "ruined/destroyed" marine ecosystems. I feel that the pale green color dissappears a bit in the whole map as well - one tends to just look for the blues.

A few small things that I am just curious about:
* Can you maybe explain this line that we see by Antarctica, at about 65 south, is this due to the Antarctic Treaty designating this part of the Antarctic Ocean in a degree of protection? (but the ATS is at 60 deg S)
* We also see some artefacts/tracks in the ocean, most notably in the caribbean and the East Pacific - is this shipping lanes or artefacts from marine surveys (survey tracks)
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#11
ravells

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Quick question for Sean. I thought it was interesting that the 'high impact' spots on your map doesn't include the 'floating junkyards of the North Pacific' mentioned by Hans as 'high impact areas'. Is there a reason for this?

Many Thanks and lovely work.

Ravi.

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#12
tyrian

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Shaun - I think you'll see too that the map is very powerful and that it is used in a lot of the wire reprints.

On the coloring - maybe the current color scheme might be too alarmist. Depending on how you want to angle it! Now I haven't actually read your study (which I should do), but it is easy to read/interpret the map as orange-red colors mean "ruined/destroyed" marine ecosystems. I feel that the pale green color dissappears a bit in the whole map as well - one tends to just look for the blues.

A few small things that I am just curious about:
* Can you maybe explain this line that we see by Antarctica, at about 65 south, is this due to the Antarctic Treaty designating this part of the Antarctic Ocean in a degree of protection? (but the ATS is at 60 deg S)
* We also see some artefacts/tracks in the ocean, most notably in the caribbean and the East Pacific - is this shipping lanes or artefacts from marine surveys (survey tracks)

Thanks for the kind words. On the coloring: the best source for this information is by skimming the SOM: information on how the break values were determined is under the header 'Ground-truthing the impact scores', and while the color scheme is strong (perhaps too much so) the two highest impacted classes the values fall into the labels (from Pandolfi's paper, which studied only Corals) of 'ecologically extinct' and 'globally extinct'. I agree that the green drops out, I'll think about how we can improve its visibility.

On the Antarctica 65d south line: We don't account for protection status, so it may be driven by some of the threats being either geographically limited. I'll do a little digging.

Those tracks are real, and in our case they're driven by ship traffic. The SOM has details on the methods we used to derive shipping traffic, hopefully that has enough detail to answer your question.

#13
tyrian

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Quick question for Sean. I thought it was interesting that the 'high impact' spots on your map doesn't include the 'floating junkyards of the North Pacific' mentioned by Hans as 'high impact areas'. Is there a reason for this?

Many Thanks and lovely work.

Ravi.

Hi Ravi,

One of the PIs, Carrie Kappel, was asked this same question, and her response is spot on:

The notorious garbage patch circulating in the Pacific gyre is not captured by our methods because we have not distributed pollutants like marine debris using an ocean circulation model. Instead we have used simple methods to model the local distribution of pollution diffusing away from its source (at the mouths of coastal watersheds, along commercial shipping tracks, etc.), but we acknowledge that marine debris and pollutants don't necessarily stay where you put them. Accurately modeling where these things end up would be a much bigger (and valuable) project. That said, we felt it was a safe starting assumption that the highest concentrations of pollutants are near their sources, and that's certainly where you would start to address them.


Also, a difficult factor in accounting for the garbage gyre is that it isn't currently possible to remote sense, and instead requires ship-based data collection. Hopefully, some solid data comes out of these efforts and we can revise future iterations.

cheers,
Shaun

#14
ravells

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Thanks Shaun (and sorry for misspelling your name in my previous post!), that makes perfect sense. Your map has caused quite a stir in the newspapers (and is hopefully being cut out of them and posted on class-room walls for posterity as we speak). Let's hope you guys get the funding to produce further maps to help us understand the scale of impact man has on the oceans.




Quick question for Sean. I thought it was interesting that the 'high impact' spots on your map doesn't include the 'floating junkyards of the North Pacific' mentioned by Hans as 'high impact areas'. Is there a reason for this?

Many Thanks and lovely work.

Ravi.

Hi Ravi,

One of the PIs, Carrie Kappel, was asked this same question, and her response is spot on:

The notorious garbage patch circulating in the Pacific gyre is not captured by our methods because we have not distributed pollutants like marine debris using an ocean circulation model. Instead we have used simple methods to model the local distribution of pollution diffusing away from its source (at the mouths of coastal watersheds, along commercial shipping tracks, etc.), but we acknowledge that marine debris and pollutants don't necessarily stay where you put them. Accurately modeling where these things end up would be a much bigger (and valuable) project. That said, we felt it was a safe starting assumption that the highest concentrations of pollutants are near their sources, and that's certainly where you would start to address them.


Also, a difficult factor in accounting for the garbage gyre is that it isn't currently possible to remote sense, and instead requires ship-based data collection. Hopefully, some solid data comes out of these efforts and we can revise future iterations.

cheers,
Shaun


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#15
frax

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The report that I have been involved in (did most of the maps) has now been launched: In dead water - climate change, pollution, over-harvest, and invasive species in the world's fishing grounds.

Maps (and graphics) can be seen here: http://maps.grida.no...fishing-grounds
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