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Data analysis: Oceans
‘ the lonely sea and the sky’– view from the top of a robot data acquisition buoy in the Pentland Firth, between scotland and Orkney (part of a
solute transfer survey in association with a University of the Highland and islands project).
Down by the sea
On a smaller span, both spatially and
Felix Grant fishes for data analysis
temporally, but of no less scientific interest,
applications among the mysteries of the deep
are the migrations of the bar tailed godwit.
This wading shorebird crosses astonishing
distances (10,000km and more) across
‘Wide is the ocean, sweet gravity...’ while Environment Research Council (NERC) data open water without stopping: individuals
that refrain from Cerys Matthews’ song
grid connect with a wide and flexible range have been tracked across the Pacific from
Ocean is intended as poetic metaphor, it is of analyses, stretching down to individual Australasia to China. In some ways, the
also appropriate to a scientific computing desktops. It includes among its components flight of hummingbirds across the Caribbean
view of things. The size (roughly two thirds of a frictional 3D Edwards and Shepherd
may be even greater feats of endurance.
planetary surface area) and mass (on the order ocean, and incorporates specific facilities Analysis of these birds and their flights has a
of a quintillion tonnes, sloshing around daily for GEODISE linkage to MatLab. A recent great deal to teach us in a number of respects
under tidal pull) of the oceans are central to example of its use is a study
that, among other – not least, according to one study
, our
their importance and there is little on earth, things, identifies the possibility of an early habits of thinking about oceans. We tend to
from its core to the limits of atmosphere or warning period for potential collapse of the think of the ocean as a barrier to movement,
from microbes to tectonics, that can be treated Atlantic thermohaline circulation (THC). but this may be an anthropocentric (or, at
meaningfully without reference to these huge Vulnerability of this Gulf Stream driver is least, land-based) fallacy. Gill et al suggest
bodies of water and dissolved solutes. one of the best known ‘doomsday factors’ that it may instead provide to avian species
Starting from the macro end of the scale, associated with posited anthropogenic climate an ecological corridor, offering benefits such
earth system modelling systems, such as change. Since ocean movements operate over as freedom from predators.
that of the GENIE
project, are increasingly centuries and millennia, analysis has to address Below the bar tailed godwit’s flight path,
providing grid facilities to local computing an equally long time base and GENIE pays and below but close to the surface of the
tools used by researchers. In GENIE’s case, the particular attention to the 20,000 years or so water, algal blooms have impacts that affect
National Grid Service (NGS) and Natural since the last glacial maximum. human interests through the food chain and
scientiFic cOMPUtinG WORlD october/november 2009
SCWoct09 pp08-13 oceans.indd 8 10/1/09 12:40:55 PM
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