Dr. Kevin Arrigo is a Professor in the Department of Environmental Earth System Science at Stanford University. (Photo: Dr. Kevin Arrigo)
Dr. Kevin Arrigo is a Professor in the Department of Environmental Earth System Science at Stanford University. He is the Chief Scientist for NASA’s ICESCAPE (Impact of Climate change on the Eco-Systems and Chemistry of the Arctic Pacific Environment) mission this summer onboard U.S. Coast Guard Cutter HEALY.
Welcome to ICESCAPE! As Chief Scientist of this exciting NASA-funded oceanographic research program, I will be keeping you up to date on our scientific objectives and progress over the coming weeks. We have been, and will continue to be, studying the physics, biology, and chemistry of the Arctic Ocean (and its associated sea ice) and how these two unique ecosystems are responding to recent changes in climate.
This region of the world has undergone some of the largest alterations of any ocean on the planet in the last decade. A few of these changes include: about a 30% loss of sea ice cover, a dramatic reduction in sea ice thickness, and a 20% increase in the growth of phytoplankton (those single-celled plant-like specks that float near the ocean surface and provide the food for virtually the entire Arctic ecosystem). In addition, the many large rivers that pour into the Arctic Ocean during the spring and summer of each year are carrying with them an increasing amount of material released from melting permafrost, which are changing the color and the chemistry of its coastal waters.
ICESCAPE consists of about 50 scientists and 80 crew members living onboard the U.S. Coast Guard HEALY. There are about 11 different scientific fields represented in ICESCAPE and in the coming weeks, you will read about what each of these scientific teams do. You will also learn how, as a team, we will be striving to assemble a clearer picture of how the Arctic Ocean works and get a better handle on its possible vulnerabilities. I look forward to sharing our adventure with you!
The science party onboard USCGC HEALY poses in front of the ship during recent ice liberty. Click for larger image. (Photo: Haley Smith Kingsland)
With that incentive, guesses poured into Wired.com’s comments bar. People guessed everything from “in God we trust” to “Soylent Green is people”. Well, I cracked the code, but you can keep my t-shirt. (Wired.com shirts aren’t exactly babe magnets.)
The code is Cyber Command’s mission statement:
USCYBERCOM plans, coordinates, integrates, synchronizes and conducts activities to: direct the operations and defense of specified Department of Defense information networks and; prepare to, and when directed, conduct full spectrum military cyberspace operations in order to enable actions in all domains, ensure US/Allied freedom of action in cyberspace and deny the same to our adversaries.
The encryption uses an old message-digest algorithm, called MD5, created back in 1991. You can create MD5 hash from any string of 256 characters or less. In short, you can make one of those 32-digit codes (MD5 hash) from anything ranging from the word “apple” to an elaborate mission statement.
iBreathe: Mobile Application for Stress Reduction (Image: DCoE)
The commonly referred to fight or flight, or stress response, occurs when the mind and body are challenged by difficult situations known as stressors. In fact, the fight or flight response is a “normal” reaction to a challenge or threat.
While lingering or especially intense stress can exact a physical and mental toll, research confirms that relaxation exercises like diaphragmatic (“belly”) breathing, when used regularly, can manage stress, focus the mind, and improve overall health and well-being.
Subject matter experts at DCoE’s National Center for Telehealth & Technology (T2), led by Dr. Gregory Gahm, are developing a mobile skill-rehearsal tool. The iBreathe application will guide users through a diaphragmatic breathing stress management technique.
Dr. Jennifer Alford, T2’s project lead for iBreathe, notes that smart phone users carry their phones an average of 14 hours a day. “Mobile platforms represent an exciting opportunity for deploying training tools that are readily accessible and available on-the-go,” said Alford.
iBreathe will provide video-based instruction that explains the body’s reaction to stressors and how belly breathing can reduce stress. The application includes illustrative examples, narrator-guided exercises, practice sessions, pre/post stress ratings, graphically-charted progress, a journal, a visual stress tracker, customization and a feature that allows users to tag data points with personal notes.
Dr. William Phillips, an Office of Naval Research (ONR)-funded Nobel Prize-winning physicist, recently delivered a compelling lecture at ONR´s Distinguished Lecture Series. Phillips’ presentation, titled “Time, Einstein and the Coolest Stuff,” highlighted the importance of basic research and ONR´s legacy of support for innovative scientists.
Dr. Phillips is a pioneer and leading researcher in laser cooling and trapping of atoms at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. His fundamental studies were used to develop applications for new kinds of physics measurements and processes such as high resolution spectroscopy, atomic clocks, atomic collisions, atom optics, bio-molecular interactions, and atomic-scale and nano-scale fabrication.
The folks at Apple say they designed the iPad to provide functions between a laptop computer and mobile devices like a smart phone or iPod. It is built to do a number of functions brilliantly: surf the web, read and write emails, browse photos, videos and books, and run thousands of apps including productivity software and games. All of this is done via a nine-inch touch screen that allows users to navigate through pages and functions with taps and swipes of the finger.
If you’ve used an iPhone, it’s the same. If not, you can pick up the techniques pretty quickly. The interface creates a personal connection between you and what you’re doing. There’s no mouse cursor; you directly manipulate what you want on the screen. This makes the whole experience kind of fun. Sometimes the whole touch interface isn’t the most accurate or perfect, but I found the margin of error to be acceptable, especially when you consider what any alternative methods of navigating there could be, like a mouse or a roller ball.
All iPad models can connect to the internet through a wi-fi connection, while 3G models connect through the cell phone network for a price. The speed of the 3G reminds me of internet speeds from about ten years ago, but given the fact that I could surf the web far from any regular connection quickly made up for the lack of speed. But be warned, the 3G speeds are only useful for light web surfing and emailing. I ran into a download size limit a few times (especially trying to download certain apps) on the 3G network that forced me to seek out a wi-fi connection to finish the job.
US Coast Guard Cutter HEALY is underway for Arctic West Summer 2010. (Photo: US Coast Guard)
The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter HEALY, the United States’ most technologically advanced polar icebreaker, recently embarked on its latest scientific mission: ICESCAPE.
“Impacts of Climate on Ecosystems and Chemistry of the Arctic Pacific Environment” is a multi-year NASA shipborne project to investigate the impacts of climate change on the ecology and biogeochemistry of the Arctic. During five weeks at sea, more than 40 scientists will sample the physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of the ocean and sea ice.
A variety of instruments will be used onboard HEALY and deployed into the ocean and on the sea ice. An automated microscope onboard will take continuous digital photographs of phytoplankton cells for near-real time observations of the quantity of different species. Floats with near-real time satellite communication will be placed in the ocean to measure temperature and various biological and optical properties. Scientists also will work on the sea ice several hundred yards from the ship to study the condition of the ice and sample the ocean ecosystem beneath it.
There are a number of ways to follow HEALY’s scientific adventure:
NASA’s Arctic Voyage 2010 blog features blog posts from a variety of men and women on the cutter. Earlier this week, U.S. Coast Guard Captain William Rall discussed exactly how the icebreaker breaks ice.
Ensign Emily Kehrt, HEALY’s Public Affairs Officer, will also be providing regular updates. In a recent blog post on The Coast Guard Compass, she described how the Coast Guard Marine Science Division onboard has been exceptionally busy, helping the scientists operate all of HEALY’s science equipment.
The USCG Icebreaker Science Operations website provides a glorious Google map to track the HEALY’s voyage. The map even lets you drill down to specific latitude and longitudinal coordinates and get information on temperature and humidity.