Radioactive ocean currents reach Southern California

Radioactive particles released in the nuclear reactor meltdown in Fukushima, Japan, following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami were detected in giant kelp along the California coast, according to a recently published study.

Radioactive iodine was found in samples collected from beds of kelp in locations along the coast from Laguna Beach to as far north as Santa Cruz about a month after the explosion, according to the study by two marine biologists at Cal State Long Beach.

The levels, while most likely not harmful to humans, were significantly higher than measurements prior to the explosion and comparable to those found in British Columbia, Canada, and northern Washington state following the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, according to the study published in March in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

The highest levels were found in Corona del Mar.

via LA Times

Google Maps adds real-time traffic to driving directions

Google Maps now includes the ability to see the estimated time of your trip, based on real-time traffic conditions. The data will show up when you search for directions, and Google Maps will show how long several different routes will take with no traffic, as well as the estimated amount of time it will take based on the current traffic.

“In areas where the information is available, this new and improved feature evaluates current traffic conditions and is constantly being refreshed to provide you with the most accurate, up-to-date estimate possible,” Szabolcs Payrits, software engineer for Google Maps.

Users might remember that Google Maps used to show estimates of trip times based on traffic. But that information was based on historic traffic data, and didn’t always reflect real-time traffic conditions.

via PC Mag (more details and link to official Google Maps article)

 

Perpetual Ocean – NASA recreates the ocean currents of the world

This visualization shows ocean surface currents around the world during the period from June 2005 through Decemeber 2007. The visualization does not include a narration or annotations; the goal was to use ocean flow data to create a simple, visceral experience.

This visualization was produced using NASA/JPL’s computational model called Estimating the Circulation and Climate of the Ocean, Phase II or ECCO2.

ECCO2 is high resolution model of the global ocean and sea-ice. ECCO2 attempts to model the oceans and sea ice to increasingly accurate resolutions that begin to resolve ocean eddies and other narrow-current systems which transport heat and carbon in the oceans.The ECCO2 model simulates ocean flows at all depths, but only surface flows are used in this visualization.

A full 20-minute version in HD is available at the Perpetual Motion NASA site.

 

Another writer ponders the similarities to Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night:

What you’re looking at is the surface current flow (not anything deeper) of oceans around the world, recorded from 2006 to 2007. The white lines are the currents, and the darker blue colors of the water represent bathymetry (the fancy word for misnomer “ocean topography”).

The image is wondrous, isn’t it? I had no conception of how many massive whirlpools sit off the world’s coasts. It’s hard to imagine how difficult sea travel must have been to early explorers, trapped in currents without motors, relying only on wind, guts, and the stars to take them somewhere they’ve never seen before. Heck, it seems scary to undertake now.

And all this pontification is ignoring just how unthinkingly beautiful the visualization looks.

via Co.Design