Thursday, July 31, 2008

Ancient India:Maps

One of the readers asked for the map of ancient india. 
The history of India is shrouded in antiquity. The country has been thought of as a nation of philosophers with a well-developed and even idyllic society. Excavations of sites belonging to the Harappan era show that the people lived in brick houses in towns with excellent drainage. One of the oldest scriptures in the world is the four volume Vedas that many regard as the repository of national thoughts that anticipated some of the modern scientific discoveries. Despite formidable barriers in the form of the mighty Himalayas and oceans, India also received a succession of foreigners, many of them carrying swords and guns. But nearly all of them stayed on. Out of these waves of immigration has emerged the composite culture of India and made it a land of unity in diversity. India became a land of assimilation and learning, a land of change and continuity. According to the one school of thoughts, the Aryans were among the first to arrive in India, which was inhabited by the Dravidians. Others who came here included Greeks, Persians, Mughals and even British, Portuguese and French. Over the years there have been many major ruling dynasties like the Shakas, the Kushans, the Maurayas and Guptas. Nearly every major religion in the world is represented in India. It is also the land of Lord Buddha, Lord Mahavira and Guru Nanak Dev, the founders of Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. 

Polar Ice Check - Still a lot of ice up there

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Google to provide full aerial view for British Columbia

Canada - An overhead view of Port Alberni illustrates what can happen when government works with an Internet mapping service.

The right side of the image on this page depicts what Google Earth and Google Maps showed before entering into an agreement with the B.C. provincial government: Streets are identified, and you can make out green space and built-up sections, but the map is vague on details.

On the left side of the image is what you can see with the government's help: A high-definition view in which houses and commercial buildings can be picked out and, zooming in, you can make out individual trees in all that green space. 

Source :

VIllage: Basic Unit of Settlement Development

A village is a clustered human settlement or community, larger than a hamlet, but smaller than a town or city[. Though generally located in rural areas, the term urban village may be applied to certain urban neighbourhoods, such as the West Village in Manhattan, New York City and the Saifi Village in Beirut, Lebanon. Villages are normally permanent, with fixed dwellings; however, transient villagescan occur. Further, the dwellings of a village are fairly close to one another, as against being scattered broadly over the landscape (‘dispersed settlement’).

Villages have been the usual form of community for societies that practice subsistence agriculture, and even for some non-agricultural societies. Towns and cities were few, and were home to only a small proportion of the population. The Industrial Revolution caused many villages to grow into towns and cities; this trend of urbanisation has continued, though not always in connection with industrialisation. Villages have thus been eclipsed in importance, as units of human society and settlement.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

IIT Kanpur proposes micro satellite for disaster management to ISRO

India - IIT Kanpur has submitted a proposal to the Indian Space Research Organisation, relating to design and development of a micro satellite. 

The micro satellite, weighing around seven kg, can be used as part of disaster management and in cartography, Director IIT Kanpur S G Dhande, said on the sidelines of a conference on Smart materials, structures and systems. 

The project was expected to require a funding of around Rs five to seven crore, he said, adding the proposal on the subject has been submitted to ISRO. 

Highlighting other applications of micro and smart systems, he said currently a railway project was on to test the application of micro and smart system to track down the location of a train en route to its destination. 

The system fitted over the train engine could send data which could be displayed on a screen locating the train's current position on the route. 

The screen could be displayed in coaches for passengers to be updated on their travel. 
The device could also help the driver get information on all the trains travelling on that route, he said. 

Speaking during the inauguration of the conference, G Madhavan Nair, Chairman, Isro said that smart materials and technology held huge potential in terms of application. 

Citing an example, he said use of smart systems in cars could help a driver gain information on the proximity of other vehicles and automatically apply brakes. 

Source :

ISRO to launch Chandrayaan-I in September

 Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) will launch Chandrayaan-I, India’’s maiden mission to the moon, in September.

Talking to ANI in an exclusive interview on the sidelights of a seminar here today, Chairman of ISRO G. Madhavan Nair said that the final tests have been on to launch the spacecraft to moon.

Chandrayaan-I will be launched atop a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), India’’s workhorse rocket with a streak of nine consecutive flawless missions.

The spacecraft would be loaded with six instruments including a high-resolution stereo camera capable of imaging objects about 16 feet in diameter.

It will also carry near-infrared and X-ray spectrometers and a laser altimeter to determine the altitude of the lunar craft for spatial coverage of various instruments.

These payloads will enable researchers to ascertain the composition and topography of the lunar surface.

The engineers have also built a 64-pound impactor that will be dropped from the orbiting spacecraft for a suicidal nosedive into the moon.

The probe will relay video imagery, altitude information and spectral data back to Earth through the Chandrayaan mothership, which will be in a lunar orbit 100 kilometres away.

The remote sensing satellite will weigh 1304 kg (590 kg initial orbit mass and 504 kg dry mass). 

Source :

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


  The Moore River estuary, a seasonally closed estuary in Western Australia
An estuary is a semi-enclosed coastal body of water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea.Estuaries are often associated with high rates of biological productivity.

An estuary is typically the tidal mouth of a river (aestus is Latin for tide), and estuaries are often characterized by sedimentation or silt carried in from terrestrial runoff and, frequently, from offshore. They are made up of brackish water. Estuaries are more likely to occur on submerged coasts, where the sea level has risen in relation to the land; this process floods valleys to form rias and fjords. These can become estuaries if there is a stream or river flowing into them. Large estuaries, like Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound, often have many streams flowing into them and can have complex shapes. Estuaries are often given names like bay, sound, fjord, etc. The terms are not mutually exclusive. Where an enormous volume of river water enters the sea (as, for example, from the Amazon into the South Atlantic) its estuary could be considered to extend well beyond the coast. Estuarine circulation is common in estuaries; this occurs when fresh or brackish water flows out near the surface, while denser saline water flows inward near the bottom. Anti-estuarine flow is its opposite, in which dense water flows out near the bottom and less dense water circulates inward at the surface. These two terms, however, have a broader oceanographic application that extends beyond estuaries proper, such as in describing the circulation of nearly-closed ocean basins. Estuaries are marine environments, whose pH, salinity, and water level are varying, depending on the river that feeds the estuary and the ocean from which it derives its salinity (oceans and seas have different salinity levels). The time it takes an estuary to completely cycle is called flushing time. As ecosystems, the estuaries are under great threat from human activities. They are small, in demand, impacted by events far upstream or out at sea, and concentrate materials such as pollutants and sediments.
Classes of estuary
Salt wedge 
River output greatly exceeds marine input; there is little mixing, and thus a sharp contrast between fresh surface water and saline bottom water.
Highly stratified 
River output and marine input are more even, with river flow still dominant; turbulence induces more mixing of salt water upward than the reverse.
Slightly stratified 
River output is less than the marine input. Here, turbulence causes mixing of the whole water column, such that salinity varies more longitudinally rather than vertically.
Vertically mixed 
River output is much less than marine input, such that the freshwater contribution is negligible; longitudinal salinity variation only.
Inverse estuary 
Located in regions with high evaporation, there is no freshwater input and in fact salinity increases inland; overall flow is inward at the surface, downwells at the inland terminus, and flows outward subsurface.
Intermittent estuary 
Estuary type varies dramatically depending on freshwater input, and is capable of changing from a wholly marine embayment to any of the other estuary types.

Grouped by structure rather than circulation, there are other types of estuaries. Bar-built estuaries are effectively synonymous with barrier island lagoons, such as Texas's Laguna Madre. Tectonic estuaries form when the sea floods a geologically subsident region, coastal plain estuaries are flooded river valleys, and fjords are submerged glacier-eroded valleys.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Researchers map risk of arsenic contamination

Researchers have produced a series of maps that highlight areas at risk from groundwater arsenic contamination in South-East Asia and Bangladesh.

The researchers, whose paper was published last week (11 July) in Nature Geoscience, used existing data on surface sediments and soil properties to map a variety of 'hotspots' in the region — some of which have not been tested previously for arsenic contamination.

The team calculated the probability of arsenic contamination using eight geological variables such as soil texture. They found that contamination was most likely in very young sediments, deposited before the last Ice Age. 

"Until now, no detailed risk maps for arsenic in groundwater existed," Lenny Winkel, a researcher at Eawag, the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, and one of the authors of the report, told SciDev.Net 

"There was only one way to find out if water from a groundwater well contains arsenic and that was by sampling and analysing the groundwater — a time-consuming and costly matter."

The researchers found that their maps correlate with existing knowledge on arsenic contamination in South-East Asia and Bangladesh. But the maps also highlighted additional regions. 

"There are several known areas at risk, such as the Bengal delta area, the Red River delta of northern Vietnam and the Mekong delta," Michael Berg, a co-author of the study also from Eawag, told SciDev.Net. "But these maps pinpoint areas where arsenic has not been tested for."

The new areas include the Irrawaddy delta in Myanmar and a largearea on the eastern Sumatran coast in Indonesia. 

The researchers confirmed their findings by analysing groundwater tests conducted in the Irrawaddy delta in 2002, and collecting groundwater samples in the province of southern Sumatra last year.

Winkel says that these maps provide a "helpful tool" to immediately pinpoint areas that need to be prioritised for groundwater tests.

Arsenic poses a global threat to health, affecting over 100 million people worldwide. It enters drinking water supplies through natural deposits released into the groundwater. It can cause cancers, skin diseases and respiratory illness, even if ingested in small doses.

The researchers now want to apply the method to other areas including Africa and northern Asia.

Alexander van Geen, a researcher at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Institute at the US-based Columbia University told SciDev.Net that the map emphasises the problem areas rather than why there is no arsenic in other areas. 

Van Geen also pointed out that the model is based on two-dimensional surface maps, whereas geological information contains a three-dimensional component — something that the authors themselves acknowledge, pointing out that in some situations, the environment at the surface differs from the geology at depth.

"The authors say there is not enough geological data to make such assertions [about why some areas are not contaminated] and I agree with them. But they could have still looked at it in some sort of depth-stratified way." 

Source :

भारत-अमरीका परमाणु करार में आए उतार-चढ़ाव

चार जुलाई 2008- वामपंथी दलों ने सरकार को एक चिट्ठी लिखकर कहा कि वह सात जुलाई तक बताए कि क्या वह भारत-अमरीका परमाणु मुद्दे पर अंतरराष्ट्रीय परमाणु ऊर्जा एजेंसी(आईएईए) से वार्ता करने जा रही है.

एक जुलाई 2008- मार्क्सवादी कम्युनिस्ट पार्टी (माकपा) ने कहा कि वह यूपीए सरकार से समर्थन वापस लेने पर विचार कर रही हैं. 

25 जून 2008- परमाणु करार पर पैदा हुए गतिरोध को दूर करने के लिए यूपीए के घटक दलों की बैठक हुई. बैठक में कोई नतीजा नहीं निकल सका. 

फ़रवरी 2008- अमरीका ने भारत से कहा कि वह राष्ट्रपति जार्ज डब्ल्यू बुश का कार्यकाल समाप्त होने से पहले परमाणु समझौता कर ले क्योंकि नई सरकार के आने पर नए सिरे समझौता करना पड़ेगा. 

दिसंबर 2007- वामपंथी दलों ने कहा कि सरकार आईएईए से बात करना बंद करे. 

नवंबर-2007- वामपंथी दलों ने अपने रुख़ में थोड़ी नरमी लाते हुए सरकार को परमाणु समझौते में भारत के हितों को लेकर अंतरराष्ट्रीय परमाणु ऊर्जा एजेंसी से बात करने की अनुमति दी. वामपंथी दलों ने बाद में सरकार पर देश को गुमराह करने का आरोप लगाया. 

अक्तूबर-2007- कांग्रेस अध्यक्ष सोनिया गांधी ने कहा कि परमाणु करार के विरोधी, विकास विरोधी हैं. इसके बाद वामपंथी दलों और सरकार के घटक दलों के बीच बैठक हुई. जिसके बाद सरकार अंतरराष्ट्रीय परमाणु ऊर्जा एजेंसी से संपर्क करने थोड़ी और देर करने को तैयार हुई. 

अगस्त-2007- अमरीका और भारत में होने वाले 123 समझौते के विवरण को दोनों देशों में एक साथ जारी किया गया. भारतीय विश्लेषकों ने कहा कि यह भारत की माँग के अनुरूप है. सरकार को बाहर से समर्थन दे रहे वामपंथी दलों ने कहा कि अगर सरकार ने यह समझौता किया तो वह सरकार से अपना समर्थन वापस ले लेंगे, क्योंकि यह समझौता देश की संप्रभुता के ख़िलाफ़ है. प्रधानमंत्री मनमोहन सिंह ने समझौते का बचाव करते हुए इसे विकास के लिए ज़रूरी बताया. 

जुलाई-2007- दोनों देशों ने द्विपक्षीय समझौते पर महीने भर बातचीत के बाद समझौते को अंतिम रूप देने की घोषणा की. भारत ने कहा कि अगर इसमें कोई नई शर्त जोड़ी गई तो वह उसे स्वीकार नहीं होगा. 

दिसंबर-2006- अमरीकी संसद की ओर से बनाए गए क़ानून पर राष्ट्रपति जार्ज बुश ने दस्तख़त किए. इसमें अमरीका परमाणु ऊर्जा क़ानून में बदलाव किए गए थे. विशेषज्ञों ने कहा कि अगल छह महीनों में समझौते को मंजूरी मिल सकती है. 

दिसंबर-2006- अमरीकी संसद ने समझौते का अनुमोदन किया. भारत को अंतिम रूप से परमाणु हस्तांतरण के लिए 45 सदस्यों वाले परमाणु सप्लाई ग्रुप, अंतरराष्ट्रीय परमाणु ऊर्जा एजेंसी और अमरीकी संसद से एक और मंजूरी ज़रूरी है. 

मार्च-2006- अमरीकी राष्ट्रपति जार्ज बुश ने भारत की तीन दिनों की यात्रा की. इस दौरान भारत के रक्षा और नागरिक उपयोग के परमाणु रियेक्टरों को अलग- अलग करने की योजना पर दोनों देशों में सहमति बनी. 

जुलाई-2005- प्रधानमंत्री मनमोहन सिंह और अमरीकी राष्ट्रपित जार्ज डब्ल्यू बुश परमाणु करार पर सैद्धांतिक रूप से सहमत हुए. यह समझौता पिछले तीस सालों से भारत के साथ परमाणु समझैता न करने की नीति को उलटने वाला था.

Wetlands could unleash "carbon bomb"

The world's wetlands, threatened by development, dehydration and climate change, could release a planet-warming "carbon bomb" if they are destroyed, ecological scientists said on Sunday.

Wetlands contain 771 billion tons of greenhouse gases, one-fifth of all the carbon on Earth and about the same amount of carbon as is now in the atmosphere, the scientists said before an international conference linking wetlands and global warming.

If all the wetlands on the planet released the carbon they hold, it would contribute powerfully to the climate-warming greenhouse effect, said Paulo Teixeira, coordinator of the Pantanal Regional Environment Program in Brazil.

"We could call it the carbon bomb," Teixeira said by telephone from Cuiaba, Brazil, site of the conference. "It's a very tricky situation."

Some 700 scientists from 28 nations are meeting this week at the INTECOL International Wetlands Conference at the edge of Brazil's vast Pantanal wetland to look for ways to protect these endangered areas.

Wetlands are not just swamps: they also include marshes, peat bogs, river deltas, mangroves, tundra, lagoons and river flood plains.

Together they account for 6 percent of Earth's land surface and store 20 percent of its carbon. They also produce 25 percent of the world's food, purify water, recharge aquifers and act as buffers against violent coastal storms.

Historically, wetlands have been regarded as an impediment to civilization. About 60 percent of wetlands worldwide have been destroyed in the past century, mostly due to draining for agriculture. Pollution, dams, canals, groundwater pumping, urban development and peat extraction add to the destruction. 

Climate change, it’s snow joke

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Tropical Storm Cristobal rumbles off the Carolinas

CHARLESTON, S.C. - Tropical Storm Cristobal, the first tropical storm to menace the Southeast seaboard this hurricane season, continued to move along the North Carolina coast early Sunday, and was expected to dump several inches in some areas of the drought-stricken state.  

Today at 5 a.m. EDT, the center of the storm was about 60 miles southwest of Cape Lookout, N.C., and about 130 miles southwest of Cape Hatteras, N.C. The National Hurricane Center said Cristobal was moving northeast at about 6 mph with maximum sustained winds of about 45 mph and some higher gusts.

"Basically the track is running parallel to the coast," said lead center forecaster Martin Nelson, speaking with The Associated Press by telephone from Miami. "Slow strengthening is forecast for the next day or two."

At the By The Sea Motel in North Myrtle Beach, S.C., out-of-state visitors photographed outer storm bands as Cristobal churned off the coast, said hotel manager Charlie Peterson. Intermittent light rain fell in the afternoon but that wasn't enough to chase them away.

"They've got their cameras set and they think there is going to be lightning over the water," he said.

Bradley Rose, a surf instructor at SandBarz in Carolina Beach, N.C., said surfers took the plunge.

"It looks pretty fun out there," Rose said.

Tropical storm warnings remained in effect from north of Little River Inlet in South Carolina to the North Carolina-Virginia state line.

Flood advisories were posted for coastal counties and Wilmington, N.C., received 2 1/2 inches of rain Saturday, said Stephen Keebler, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service there.

Cristobal's winds were not expected to be a problem, Keebler said.

Forecasters predicted up to 5 inches of rain along the North Carolina coast, with heavier amounts in some areas.

Eastern North Carolina is under a moderate drought while areas along South Carolina's northern coast are considered abnormally dry, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Officials have blamed the drought for a huge wildfire that has charred more than 40,000 acres in eastern North Carolina since it began June 1 with a lightning strike.

Elsewhere Sunday, Hurricane Fausto was expected to weaken far off Mexico's Pacific coast, while Hurricane Bertha, the longest-lived July tropical storm in history, was downgraded to a tropical storm Saturday.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said early Sunday that Bertha continued to move northeastward over the north Atlantic.

At 5 a.m. Sunday EDT, the hurricane center reported that Bertha's center was about 670 miles east-northeast of Cape Race Newfoundland, moving northeast at near 30 mph with maximum sustained winds of nearly 70 mph.

Bertha battered Bermuda earlier this week, knocking out electricity to thousands at the Atlantic tourist destination. ____

Associated Press Writers Meg Kinnard in Columbia, S.C., and Bill Cormier in Atlanta contributed to this report.

Gore Gives 10 Years Time to Humanity

Former American Vice-President Al Gore came to Washington on July 17, 2008, to deliver yet another speech warning of the “climate crisis.” “The leading experts predict that we have less than 10 years to make dramatic changes in our global warming pollution lest we lose our ability to ever recover from this environmental crisis,” Gore stated. But the former Vice President, who has been warning of a 10-year “tipping point” for several years now, appears to be unaware that the United Nations already started the 10 year countdown in 1989!

Satellite Imagery Shows Arctic Ice Still Unmelted

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Biosphere Reserves

According to “The Statutory Framework of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves,” biosphere reserves are created “to promote and demonstrate a balanced relationship between humans and the biosphere.” Under article 4, biosphere reserves must “encompass a mosaic of ecological systems,” and thus consist of combinations of terrestrial, coastal, or marine ecosystems.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Samuel Warren Carey:Author of "The Expanding Earth"

Carey was born in New South Wales and grew up on a farm three miles from Campbelltown. The family was to move to the town centre, saving the young Carey the walk to school. An interest in physics and chemistry during high shool was to lead to selection of both subjects when he attended the University of Sydney in 1929. Mathematics was required and he was encouraged to study Geology as his fourth subject, a department still under the influence of retired Professor Edgeworth David .He started a student Geology club as he became attracted to the subjects mixture of laboratory and field work; David gave the inaugural speech. Along with classmates Alan Voisey and Dorothy York, he was to earn high distinctions at the University. He also joined the Sydney University Regiment. His Masters and Honours degree were based on four papers on the Werris Creek area. He received his MSc in 1934. It was at this time that Carey read the 1924 translation of Wegener's The Origin of Continents and Oceans, the book largely responsible for introducing the concept of continental drift to English-speaking academics. He was to become a key figure in advancing this concept and plate tectonic models that followed

Expanding Earth

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Drawings of Manal (Four and a half year girl)

Myanmar’s Cyclone-Damaged Rice Production Regions Monitored with GIS

Subsequent to Cyclone Nargis, a category 3 tropical storm that struck the low-lying and heavily populated coastline of Myanmar on May 2, 2008, the Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) began producing a series of geographic information system (GIS)-based maps of the damaged agricultural areas to accompany its commodity intelligence reports. Published on the FAS Web site, these maps are created using geospatial data and the technology found in ESRI’s ArcGIS Desktop software. 

The mission of FAS is to improve foreign market access to U.S. agricultural products, build new markets, improve the competitive position of U.S. agriculture in the global marketplace, and provide food aid and technical assistance to foreign countries. FAS achieves a part of this mission by analyzing global crop production capacity with remote-sensing and GIS tools and by issuing commodity intelligence reports highlighting current international crop conditions. GIS-based maps, available in PDF format, provide a visualization of the analysis performed and often serve as each report’s basis. The commodity intelligence reports issued for the country formerly known as Burma focus on Myanmar’s major rice-producing areas, which have suffered saltwater flooding and heavy rainfall as a result of the cyclone. 

The project included satellite imagery obtained from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) moderate-resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS) satellite to delineate the postcyclone flooding region. This imagery was combined with rice land-cover classification data from the Landsat satellite program. FAS used ArcGIS to perform spatial analysis and create maps of the damaged rice production regions of Myanmar. These maps revealed the cyclone’s effect on cropland and livestock, the severity of flooding, and the rate of cropland recovery. The United Nations and nongovernmental organizations (NGO) are using the maps to evaluate the scope of the cyclone’s impact. The information is also been of great interest to the international agriculture industry for determining market impacts. 

“Our GIS maps and flood classification data show that the areas originally inundated by the storm account for approximately 1.7 million hectares of rice, 24 percent of the national rice area, or roughly 2.5 million tons of rice production on a milled basis,” says FAS international crop assessment analyst Michael Shean. “The core region most severely damaged by the tidal wave and high winds, however, accounted for approximately 900,000 hectares of rice land, 13 percent of the national rice area, and roughly 1.35 million tons of milled rice production. In addition, field reports from inside the affected region indicate that within these rice production areas, large numbers of villages were destroyed along with much of their food stocks, livestock, and farming supplies.”

A commodity intelligence report and maps issued June 10, 2008, demonstrate that approximately 80 percent of the original inundated rice production area is still affected by some degree of flooding, though conditions in the core damage zone had improved considerably, with only 418,000 hectares, or 46 percent of the original area, still showing flood effects. FAS will continue to produce reports and maps and perform analysis of Myanmar’s rice production regions as new data becomes available. 

As a complete GIS, ArcGIS allows organizations such as USDA to author data, maps, 
globes, and models on the desktop; serve them to a GIS server; and use them through Web, desktop, and mobile clients. The ArcGIS family of products includes desktop, server, mobile, and online GIS as well as ESRI data. 

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British Columbians hate their carbon tax

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Global satellite maps to reveal ocean areas where winds could produce wind energy

Scientists have created maps using nearly a decade of data from NASA's QuikSCAT satellite, which reveal ocean areas where winds could produce wind energy.The new maps have 
many potential uses including planning the location of offshore wind farms to convert wind energy into electric energy.
"Wind energy is environmentally friendly. After the initial energy investment to build and install wind turbines, you don't burn fossil fuels that emit carbon," said study lead author Tim Liu, a senior research scientist and QuikSCAT science team leader at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California."Like solar power, wind energy is green energy," he added.

QuikSCAT, launched in 1999, tracks the speed, direction and power of winds near the ocean surface. Data from QuikSCAT, collected continuously by a specialized microwave radar instrument named SeaWinds, also are used to predict storms and enhance the accuracy of weather forecasts.Wind energy has the potential to provide 10 to 15 percent of future world energy requirements, according to Paul Dimotakis, chief technologist at JPL. 

If ocean areas with high winds were tapped for wind energy, they could potentially generate 500 to 800 watts of energy per square meter, according to Liu's research. Dimotakis noted that while this is slightly less than solar energy (which generates about one kilowatt of energy per square meter), wind power can be converted to electricity more efficiently than solar energy and at a lower cost per watt of electricity produced.
According to Liu, new technology has made floating wind farms in the open ocean possible. A number of wind farms are already in operation worldwide. Ocean wind farms have less environmental impact than onshore wind farms, whose noise tends to disturb sensitive wildlife in their immediate area. Also, winds are generally stronger over the ocean than on land because there is less friction over water to slow the winds down. There are no hills or mountains to block the wind's path.

Ideally, offshore wind farms should be located in areas where winds blow continuously at high speeds. The new research identifies such areas and offers explanations for the physical mechanisms that produce the high winds. 

The new QuikSCAT maps, which add to previous generations of QuikSCAT wind atlases, also will be beneficial to the shipping industry by highlighting areas of the ocean where high winds could be hazardous to ships, allowing them to steer clear of these areas.

Scientists use the QuikSCAT data to examine how ocean winds affect weather and climate, by driving ocean currents, mixing ocean waters, and affecting the carbon, heat and water interaction between the ocean and the atmosphere. 

Source :

Great Geographer Mohd Shafi

Born: 1st August 1924, Jaunpur (UP) India.
Died: 9th December, 2007, Aligarh (UP) India. 
Father: Husain Ali
Children: Prof. Mohd. Jamil (Civil Engg., AMU Aligarh), Dr. Bilquees Bano

Education: 1945: B.A. Allahabad University
1947: M.A. (Geography), AMU Aligarh
1956: Ph.D. from London School of Economics with Prof. Dudley Stamp

Career: 1948: Lecturer, Department of Geography, AMU Aligarh
1956: Reader, Department of Geography, AMU Aligarh
1962: Professor, Department of Geography, AMU Aligarh
1962-84: Chairman, Department of Geography, AMU Aligarh
1966-68: Dean, Faculty of Science
1959-62: Provost, Sir Shah Sulaiman Hall
1984: Professor Emeritus in Dept. of Geography AMU Aligarh
1972-74: Director Academic Program (DAP)
1979-80: Pro-Vice Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University

1985-1993: Vice-President, International Geographical Union

1987: Member, Royal geographical Society of London.
1992-95: Pro-Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University

2001: Padama Shri by the Government of India
2001: Bhoogol Ratna Award by Bhoovigyan Vikas Foundation, New Delhi.
2002: "Saraswati Award" in Environmental Science and Ecology by the UGC

Member: The Scientific Committee of the International Social Science Council

“Laureate d’ honneur” by the International Geographical union at Glasgow,
UK. 'Academician' by the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Member : Bureau for Promotion of Urdu

President : Indian Geographical Union, Indian Geographical Council.

Mohd. Shafi was born on 1st June, 1924 in historical city of Jaunpur in eastern Uttar Pardesh. In 1945, after completing his graduation from Allahabad University, he joined Aligarh Muslim University in M.A. in Geography. 

Association with Aligarh :
Mohd. Shafi completed his M.A. in Geography in 1947. Like other part of the country, Aligarh Muslim University campus was also not safe from the socio-political activities of Indian Freedom movement during this time. But this did not affect the studies of young Mohd. Shafi. After completing his M.A., he joined AMU as lecturer in department of Geography. He completed his Ph.D. from London University in 1956 and was appointed as Reader in Geography department of AMU. His Ph.D. work was well recognized at International level. His research area Agricultural Geography got attention in the research community an department of Geography of AMU Aligarh was declared a center of excellence for the subject buy University Grant Commission and Mohd. Shafi was appointed its Coordinator. His research work on the Food System of India has been recognized with high honors in many countries, and by the United Nations.In 1962, he was appointed as Professor in the same department. In the same year he became Chairman, Department of Geography and served on this position till 1984. He has published 11 books and 130 research papers, and has supervised 34 doctoral works. He also served as Provost for 3 years and Dean Faculty of Science. In 1972, Prof. Abdul Aleem, Vice-Chancellor of AMU Aligarh appointed him as Director of Academic Program (DAP). He served as DAP till 1974. His academic excellence and administrative abilities were noticed by AMU Vice Chancellor Prof. Ali Mohammad Khusro and in 1979 he appointed him as Pro-Vice Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University. He served as Pro Vice-Chancellor for two years. In 1984, he retired from his services but Department of Geography appointed him as Professor Emeritus.

Professor Shafi is the first Indian Geographer in the Indian sub-continent including SAARC countries to receive this prestigious award at the 30th International Geographical Congress held at Glasgow in U.K. More than 1800 geographers from 81 countries participated in the Congress. The Russian Academy of Sciences also conferred on him its highest award 'Academician'. The Royal Geographers Society, London made him its Honorary Corresponding Member of the Council and the American Geographic Society offered him its Fellowship. In 2002 he has been honored for "Saraswati Award" in Environmental Science and Ecology by the University Grants Commission. On April 22, 2001 at New Delhi Bhoovigyan Vikas Foundation awarded him the maiden Bhoogol Ratna Award, which consists of Rs One lakh and a citation.

In AMU Court meeting on July 5th, 1992, Professor Mohd Shafi was elected as Pro-Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University for a period of 3 years.

On 9th December 2007, Professor Mohd Shafi died in Aligarh. He was laid to rest in University Graveyard 'Mintoyee'.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Remote tribe uses high-tech protection

US - On a recent afternoon deep in the Amazon's rain forest, members of the Surui tribe, which made contact with the outside world less than 40 years ago, could not resist that urge well-known to modern man -- they Googled themselves.

Then they looked up football.

Computers with an Internet connection, video cameras, Global Positioning System devices and other high-tech gadgets are replacing bows and arrows in the small indigenous village about 1,600 miles northwest of Rio de Janeiro, which has teamed up with Google Earth to help protect its 600,000-acre reserve from illegal miners and loggers.

"Since the Surui and other indigenous people were given training tools by Google, our land has received more visibility," Chief Almir Surui said in an e-mail written in Portuguese. Surui is both the common surname and the name of the tribe. "All the information is shedding light on the invasion of our land ... and giving our people the responsibility for their own future."

The collaboration between the Mountain View, Calif., high-tech giant and one of the most remote tribes in the world is the brainchild of Almir, the first Surui to graduate from college, who traveled to California's Bay Area last year. During his visit, Almir met with officials at Google Earth, asking them to provide high-quality satellite imagery that would allow the tribe to monitor illegal loggers and raise global awareness about the destruction of the rain forest.

Last month, a small group of scientists from Google Earth Outreach, the company's philanthropic arm, traveled to Brazil to conduct a crash course for the Surui people on how to surf the Web and use map data, YouTube and blogs.

Now, armed with the satellite imagery, videos and photos, the Surui people hope to tell stories about their culture, history and traditions through the virtual world of Google Earth. The maps will also provide updates on the planned reforestation project of the 17,300 acres the tribe has lost to illegal logging.

Though the project is still in the initial stages, once the Surui are done, "it will be a very rich layer unlike anything anyone has ever seen before," said Rebecca Moore, project manager at Google Earth Outreach.

"We traveled to the Amazon rain forest expecting to be the teachers," Moore said. "But the story of the Surui as they engage with the modern world holds lessons for all of us, and if we pay attention, we may have more to learn from them than they from us."

Since the Surui tribe made its first contact with civilization in 1969 during the construction of the 2,000-mile Trans-Amazon Highway, it has been fighting for its survival, with various diseases devastating its population. While the Brazilian constitution guarantees indigenous tribes the right to live on their lands, the government lacks resources to protect them from illegal loggers and ranchers.

The technology is helping the tribe fight back.

Source :

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Climate Change

Blog 52 has published a wonderful post. I am reproducing it faor our readers.

When it comes to global climate change we seem to act like a deer in the headlights of an oncoming car. We see the cataclysm coming, but somehow we’re frozen in place, unable to take action to avert it.

Come to think of it, we’re both the deer and the driver of the car.

NASA and the Jet Propulsion Lab have an amazing Global Climate Change website loaded with data and interactive tools. Like this chart that shows how CO2 emissions have exploded in recent years. Yes, there’s always a bit of variation from year to year, but over the long haul it has been inexorably climbing upward .

Their Climate Time Machine is especially cool (and especially scary), showing how temperatures and sea levels are rising.

My overwrought metaphor goes like this: If you read all this data and still don’t think you need to take action to avoid the cataclysm, then you’re too drunk on fossil fuels and need to find a designated driver.

'परमाणु करार में भारत को काफ़ी रियायतें...'

भारत-अमरीका परमाणु समझौते के तहत भारत और अंतरराष्ट्रीय परमाणु ऊर्जा एजेंसी के बीच अनिवार्य समझौते के मसौदे को पढ़कर मुझे ऐसा लगता है कि ये 'स्टैंडर्ड सेफ़गार्ड एग्रीमेंट' है यानी सामान्य समझौते का मसौदा है. जब भी कोई देश अंतरराष्ट्रीय सहयोग के माध्यम से परमाणु सुविधा, परमाणु रिएक्टर वग़ैरह शुरू करना चाहते हैं तो उसे इस तरह का समझौता करना पड़ता है. दूसरी बात ये है कि भारत की स्थिति दूसरों से थोड़ी अलग है क्योंकि भारत ...


Water found in Moon rock samples

A new scan has shown the presence of water in Moon rock at levels not previously thought possible.

A team from the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington developed a new form of materials analysis called secondary ion mass spectrometry.

The technique was tested on samples of Moon rock brought back from the Apollo landings in the 1960s and 1970s.

When the samples were scanned they were found to contain hydrogen, similar to that found in the Earth's mantle.

"We looked at many factors over a wide range of cooling rates that would affect all the volatiles simultaneously and came up with the right mix," said James Van Orman, a former Carnegie researcher now at Case Western Reserve University.

"It suggests the intriguing possibility that the Moon's interior might have had as much water as the Earth's upper mantle."

Scientists believe that the Moon was formed by an object the size of Mars crashing into the Earth and knocking debris into orbit.

The process of lunar formation would have been intensely hot and this, coupled with the lack of atmosphere, would have led to any water boiling away. 

Scientists have suggested that some water from comets may be found in rock formations at the Moon's poles but the idea of naturally occurring water had been largely discounted.

Friday, July 11, 2008

G8 Summit:No End of Conflict Between Developed and Developing Nation

It seems increasingly unlikely that the fundamental conflict between the developed nations and the emerging economies of the developing world about collective climate targets can be resolved anytime soon. The time has come for policy makers around the world to ponder whether a new global climate agreement no longer based on mandatory and legally binding emissions targets is a viable compromise.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Natural data census on cards in India

India - Orissa Remote Sensing Application Centre (Orsac) has decided to undertake a natural resources census of the state.

The organisation hopes that the census would provide a clearer picture of the state’s status in terms of natural resources by providing a systematic inventory and creating a standardised Geographic Information System (GIS) database.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Paraglider, Chinar,Byas and Apples in Scenic Himalayas

Recently we have gone on a tour of Simla, Manali,Kullu and Rohtang Pass. The beauty was breathtaking especially the River Byas travelling with us. Here are some of the photographs we took.

more photographs

Exploring Karst in Guilin, China

An ancient Chinese adage says, “He who travels in Guilin finds himself in a fairy land.”
Traveling to China this summer for the Olympics? Don’t just stay in Beijing — try straying off the beaten path a little bit. Jordan Clary, a freelance writer who recently lived in China, recommends checking out some of the more geologically fascinating areas, such as Guilin in the vast country’s southeastern corner. 

Guilin, China, bears an uncanny resemblance to J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth. At any moment you might expect to see Gandalf the Wizard galloping across the plains on his white steed or a dragon roaring down from the sharp cliffs. Guilin, however, is no trick of a novelist’s imagination. Its more than 5,180 square kilometers of karst landscape is the result of a perfect alchemy of geological conditions.
read on

Monday, July 7, 2008

Digital map for urban growth in India

Six towns in the Orriss state of Indiawill soon have digital maps and Geographic Information System (GIS) database of their areas to check disorderly growth and help in better urban planning.

The facility will be provided through the ministry of urban development’s recently launched National Urban Information System (NUIS) scheme aimed at achieving better planning and management of urban settlements.

The scheme with an outlay of Rs 66.68 crore would cover Cuttack, Rourkela, Balasore, Baripada, Berhampur and Sambalpur among the 137 cities and towns across the country. The information system would consist of urban land use, soil, groundwater, surface water, vacant zones, green zones, transport system and satellite towns/villages in the neighbourhood.

Isro had assigned Orissa Remote Sensing Application Centre (Orsac) to generate the information for the six towns by using high-resolution Indian Cartosat satellite data and aerial pictures. “The satellite-generated digital maps and GIS data will be helpful for speedy preparation of master plans, zonal plans, utility plans and town planning schemes in the six towns,” said Orsac chief executive officer Debajit Mishra. “The information will also be useful for infrastructure development, disaster management and environment monitoring.”

Mishra said the urban information system to be developed by Orsac would be adopted by the Union government’s town and country planning organisation in collaboration with the state directorate of town planning. 

Source :

Mistral of France

The Mistral in France is a fresh or cold, often violent, and usually dry wind, blowing throughout the year but is most frequent in winter and spring. It blows from the northwest or north of Europe through the valley of the Rhône River to the Mediterranean.[1] It also affects the whole of Sardinia in Italy.

In the south of France the name comes from the Languedoc dialect of the provençal language and means "masterly." The same wind is called mistrau in the occitan language, mestral in Catalan and maestrale in Italian and Corsican.

The mistral is usually accompanied by clear and sunny weather, and it plays an important role in creating the climate of Provence. It can reach speeds of more than ninety kilometers an hour, particularly in the Rhone Valley.
read on

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Solar Wind

The solar wind is a stream of charged particles—a plasma—that are ejected from the upper atmosphere of the sun. It consists mostly of electrons and protons with energies of about 1 keV. These particles are able to escape the sun's gravity, in part because of the high temperature of the corona, but also because of high kinetic energy that particles gain through a process that is not well-understood at this time.

Many phenomena are directly related to the solar wind, including geomagnetic storms that can knock out power grids on Earth, the aurorae such as the Northern Lights, and the plasma tails of comets that always point away from the sun. While early models of the solar wind used primarily thermal energy to accelerate the material, by the 1960s it was clear that thermal acceleration alone cannot account for the high speed of solar wind. An additional unknown acceleration mechanism is required, and likely relates to magnetic fields in the solar atmosphere.

Saturday, July 5, 2008


Blizzards are severe winter storms that pack a combination of blowing snow and wind resulting in very low visibilities. While heavy snowfalls and severe cold often accompany blizzards, they are not required. Sometimes strong winds pick up snow that has already fallen, creating a blizzard. Officially, the National Weather Service defines a blizzard as large amounts of falling OR blowing snow with winds in excess of 35 mph and visibilities of less than 1/4 of a mile for an extended period of time (greater than 3 hours). When these conditions are expected, the National Weather Service may issue a “Blizzard Warning”. When a less severe, but still dangerous, winter storm is expected a “Winter storm Watch” or “Winter storm Warning” may be issued. A “Winter storm Watch” is issued in advance and means that there is the possibility of a winter storm affecting your area. Keep alert and stay tuned to TV, radio, and other sources of weather information. A “Winter storm Warning” means a winter storm is imminent or already occurring.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Horse latitudes

Horse latitudes or Subtropical High are subtropic latitudes between 30 and 35 degrees both north and south. This region, under a ridge of high pressure called the Subtropical ridge, is an area which receives little precipitation and has variable winds mixed with calm. The term "Horse Latitudes" may owe its name to the fact that early colonialist sailors would accidentally come too close to the center of the Atlantic Ocean while crossing it and get stuck in this belt of calm weather where winds tend to lift off the water instead of blowing across it, along with little current. The confused sea, muggy heat, and rolling and pitching of waves (variably stilled and aerated by winds) often slowed colonial ships for days to weeks due to lack of propulsion. The crew would throw horses overboard in order to conserve water and food. This also reduced the weight of the ship, thereby lightening the load and increased the speed of the ship in the low winds.

The consistently warm, dry conditions of the horse latitudes also contribute to the existence of temperate deserts, such as the Sahara Desert in Africa, the southwestern United States and northern Mexico, and parts of the Middle East in the Northern Hemisphere, and the Atacama Desert, the Kalahari Desert, and the Australian Desert in the Southern Hemisphere.


The word Naga has evolved from the word Nagna, which means naked. It is so because the Nagas are known by the paucity of their clothes. Some also say that the word Naga originated from Naga meaning Snake or king of snakes. Mythlogically, princess Ulupi was a Naga Kanya, that is daughter of the king of snakes. Ulupi`s residence is generally identified in the southwest of Nagaland. Since this area was under the Naga raj, the people are known as Naga.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Buran or Burga/Purga

A strong cold north-easterly wind creating extreme blizzard conditions during winter. The Buran occurs most frequently in Mongolia and Siberia and Buran winds are are strong and full of ice and snow. The skies is often laden with snow which swirls about and reduces the visibility to near zero at times.

This Buran is much feared in the region and can be persistent and close passes for weeks as it blows. Over the tundra it is also known as Purga . In Alaska this severe north-easterly wind is known as Burga bringing snow and ice pellets.


Buran or Burga/Purga

A strong cold north-easterly wind creating extreme blizzard conditions during winter. The Buran occurs most frequently in Mongolia and Siberia and Buran winds are are strong and full of ice and snow. The skies is often laden with snow which swirls about and reduces the visibility to near zero at times.

This Buran is much feared in the region and can be persistent and close passes for weeks as it blows. Over the tundra it is also known as Purga . In Alaska this severe north-easterly wind is known as Burga bringing snow and ice pellets.


Future of Satellites: Nano, Micro and Mini Satellites

India - The smooth and flawless launch of eight nano satellites developed by universities from across the world along with two Indian spacecraft in one go by the April 28 path-breaking flight of the four stage Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), while helping put ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) on par with front-ranking international space agencies, has brought into sharp focus the growing popularity of nano, micro and mini satellites.

These eight nano satellites are being used for experimental communication, forest fire detection and earth observation applications. Apparently, these eight nano satellites, whose launch has fetched Antrix Corp Ltd, the Bangalore based commercial arm of ISRO, Rs 24-million, were essentially designed to prove the feasibility of emerging nano technologies in building satellites as well as for the development of technologies for satellite applications.

For quite some time now, space researchers have been stressing the point that micro systems technology and micro electronics for space applications can draw great advantages from pre qualification in a real space environment. Reducing weight, size and energy characteristics of micro, mini and nano satellites is a major challenge before space professionals. The Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of USA have a strong R&D programme for designing and building small, micro and nano satellites.

Similarly the 83-kg IMS-1, an Indian mini satellite payload for earth observation applications, launched by the April 28 PSLV mission, features many innovative technology and miniaturised sub systems. IMS-1 carries two remote sensing payloads: a multi-spectral camera and a hyper spectral camera capable of operating in the visible and near infrared regions of the electro magnetic spectrum.

The flexible satellite platform built for IMS-1 will serve as a forerunner of space missions for end uses like remote sensing, communications and space science research. Sometime ago, ISRO Chairman G Madhavan Nair had stated that “we are now trying to look at a small platform which can take up scientific experiments or may be used for cluster formation and things like that.” ISRO has called for proposals from the Indian scientific community for space science research with the help of small satellite payloads.

The PSLV flight, slated to take place over the next one year, will orbit X-sat, a micro satellite designed and developed by Singapore's Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and Cubesat, a nano satellite cluster from Netherlands as piggy back payloads. And sometime before the end of this decade, a PSLV mission will launch 35-kg Anusat, designed and developed by Chennai-based Anna University with the support of ISRO. This is an imitative of ISRO to bring university-based academicians and experts of ISRO together to implement a project in the University environment. This micro satellite will have body mounted solar panels and feature a digital store and forward payload for amateur communications. In addition, it features turbo coolers and MEMS (micro electro mechanical system) hardware. The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) at Mumbai and Kanpur are also planning micro satellites for launch by ISRO.

Another important micro satellite project being spearheaded by ISRO is Youthsat which will carry payloads of scientific interest with the participation of youth from universities. According to ISRO, youth from universities will participate from testing of the payloads in laboratories up to utilisation of the data from payloads. The micro satellite bus is planned and designed to carry different kinds of payloads like earth imaging, atmospheric applications, weather monitoring, stellar observation and scientific experiments. Youthsat will be launched as a piggy back payload by one of the PSLV flights during 2008-09.

In fact, it is the prohibitive cost of building large satellites and putting them into orbit, that has proved to be a "push factor" for the development of micro, mini and nano satellites. Micro satellites can also be used for the monitoring of disasters, natural resources and landscape mapping.

Surrey Satellite Technology, functioning under the Surrey University, is a pioneer in micro satellite technology. A number of countries have built small satellites inspired by the SSTL satellite models. Sweden, on its part, has developed and launched micro satellites for communications, scientific research and remote sensing applications. 

Source :