Sunday, February 28, 2010

Woohoo! Surf's up!

Shouldn't joke really, it is probably not a good time to be in Chile, but the tsunami is unlikely to amount to much by the time it gets here in an hour or so (it's raining and cold here, I'm not going to the beach to look).

Coincidentally, we applied for jobs in Concepcion, right where the epicentre was, many years ago. Sent off the applications, heard nothing back, until a full year later when they asked if we were still interested! We didn't pursue it further though - I think by then we might have got our current jobs in Japan. Didn't expect this would save us from a major earthquake though!


C W Magee said...

Don't worry, you guys will get a similar sized quake one of these days. By definition, all subduction zones slip, it is just a question of when.

Gazete Oku said...

Hi, thank you very much. good job.

David B. Benson said...

And Fuji-san might decide to blow its top any century now...

Hank Roberts said...

Hey, this one's for Japan!

"... According to BBC News, US scientists revealed their estimate of carbon released by whaling at a major ocean sciences meeting in the US.

Dr Andrew Pershing from the University of Maine described whales as the "forests of the ocean".

Dr Pershing and his colleagues from the Gulf of Maine Research Institute calculated the annual carbon-storing capacity of whales as they grew.

"Whales, like any animal or plant on the planet, are made out of a lot of carbon," he said.

"And when you kill and remove a whale from the ocean, that's removing carbon from this storage system and possibly sending it into the atmosphere," he added.

In their initial calculations, the team worked out that 100 years of whaling had released an amount of carbon equivalent to burning 130,000 sq km of temperate forests ...."

I'd just been wishing for this calculation over at Stoat's place a week or two ago.

It's important because but for the one "right whale" dead whales sink -- the abyssal plain is littered with whale skeletons slowly being consumed. That is pretty effective carbon sequestration, given the recent estimates of the total biomass of whales before humans nearly wiped them out.

Top predators, trophic cascades, and they'll come 'round to bite you.

James Annan said...

We're alllll doooooomed, I tell ya!

Even if I escape the quakes and volcanoes, I believe the sun is due to go out in a few billion years.

Yeah I'd seen the whale thing. Maybe we should dump our household rubbish on the sea floor to make up for it :-)

C W Magee said...

Perhaps the Japanese should consider cetacean liposuction

EliRabett said...

Somewhat more seriously why is it not possible to determine the height of the wave as it passes through the ocean?? Buoys and radar from satellites should be able to do this or not??

James Annan said...

Yes, theoretically, and in fact I believe that such a system exists, spurred on by the boxing day one a few years back. Maybe a bit experimental at present, I don't know the details.

However, in deep water the wave amplitude is much reduced, so although in general terms they can see it coming, it is far from trivial to estimate how much it will grow when it shoals in shallower areas (the wave gets slower, thus taller). Especially when this has to be done in real time with v limited data.

Saw a nice vid of the tsunami up a river in Japan, looked like a decent tidal bore. Even at that scale it was fairly forceful.


Hank Roberts said...

And the before-and-after picture here is truly awesome:
"The key to looking young, dear readers, is to take a plastic bottle and mash it against your face for several minutes each day."

C W Magee said...

Eli, I don't think sat coverage is extensive enough or quick enough to be reliable. If I recall, it took several days for the Indian Ocean tsunami to show up in sat data, by which time it was all over.

There are bouys out there, although the ones near Indonesia are regularly stolen by pirates. But if the give contradictory data, what are the forecasters to do?

Also, I think that at least in Hawaii, it was low tide on a full moon when the wave hit, which buys you a meter ot two for free.

C W Magee said...

NYTimes article on forecast: