Churnside J.H.,Earth System Research Laboratory |
Marchbanks R.D.,National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Geophysical Research Letters | Year: 2015
The first synoptic measurements of subsurface plankton layers were made in the western Arctic Ocean in July 2014 using airborne lidar. Layers were detected in open water and in pack ice where up to 90% of the surface was covered by ice. Layers under the ice were less prevalent, weaker, and shallower than those in open water. Layers were more prevalent in the Chukchi Sea than in the Beaufort Sea. Three quarters of the layers observed were thinner than 5 m. The presence of these layers, which are not adequately captured in satellite data, will influence primary productivity, secondary productivity, fisheries recruitment, and carbon export to the benthos. © 2015. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.
The U.S. Could Make a Fast, Cheap Switch to Clean Energy More Coal-fired power plants are the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases in the United States, but new research finds that existing technology could cheaply slash the nation’s carbon spew nearly 80 percent by 2030. How? By transporting renewable energy from where the sun is shining and the wind is blowing to where it is not, according to the study, which was published on Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change by scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Colorado Boulder. NOAA’s highly detailed weather data shows there’s nearly always someplace in the 48 contiguous states where electricity can be generated by solar power stations and wind farms, even if it happens to be hundreds or thousands of miles away from where it’s needed. The quandary: How to move electricity generated by that sun or wind over long distances without losing too much of it in the process. The solution: A proven technology, called high-voltage direct current, already exists and can carry power across long distances more efficiently than alternating current, the standard power transmission mode in the U.S. Utilities could add direct-current infrastructure to alternating-current transmission lines over the next 15 years as part of planned updates and upgrades without breaking the bank, said study coauthor Alexander MacDonald, who recently retired as director of NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory. “Almost everybody believes that if we go to wind and solar energy it will be more expensive, or won’t be ready unless we have a big technological breakthrough” in battery storage technology, MacDonald said. “Our study says that with existing transmission technology and use of the whole 48 states with this ‘interstate for electrons,’ we’re ready right now to have a national system that has the same electric costs as today, with as much as 80 percent less carbon, and just as reliable.” The greater reliance on wind and solar power would also cut water use for energy by 65 percent, the study found. That’s because fossil fuel plants, which generate 40 percent of the nation’s carbon emissions, need large volumes of water for cooling. RELATED: Morocco Will Soon Become the World’s Solar Energy Superpower “Our study assumed that the existing U.S. power system, with all of its AC distribution and usage, stays the same,” said MacDonald. “Power can be taken off the HVDC network for use, and put on by generation. To a power provider, let’s say a utility, instead of building a coal plant, they build a connection to the HVDC network. Everything else stays the same.” To test ideas about the most cost-effective means of generating power, MacDonald and his colleagues conducted a complex mathematical analysis that combined finely detailed data on continent-wide weather patterns from 2006 to 2008 with equally detailed data on power demand for the same period. “NOAA folks have known for some time how big weather is,” said mathematician and physicist Christopher Clack of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, a collaboration between NOAA and the University of Colorado Boulder. “We built and ran a very sophisticated model that was able to take advantage of [NOAA’s] exceptionally good-quality weather data to look at the situation of the grid, and see if there’s any way of running the grid that would incorporate a really cheap system.” The model was not designed to prioritize low carbon emissions, he said. “We tried to be completely agnostic on which technologies were picked. It turned out the most effective combination we saw was full U.S., 48-state transmission, backed up by gas when solar and wind wasn’t enough.” Using the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s estimate of a 0.7 percent increase in power demand annually between 2015 and 2030, the researchers found that scenarios combining wind, solar, and natural gas power with a nationwide transmission grid cut greenhouse gas emissions from 33 to 78 percent below 1990 levels. If gas was cheaper than solar and wind, the emissions were higher; when renewables beat gas on price, emissions went down. The cost to ratepayers was between $0.086 and $0.10 per kilowatt-hour—comparable to the actual average nationwide cost of $0.094 per kilowatt-hour in 2015 and potentially saving power customers $47.2 billion a year.
News Article | May 7, 2015
HOUSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Geospace Technologies (NASDAQ: GEOS) today announced a net loss of $5.2 million, or $0.40 per diluted share, on revenues of $27.9 million for its fiscal quarter ended March 31, 2015. This compares with a net income of $10.8 million, or $0.82 per diluted share, on revenues of $68.6 million for the corresponding quarter in the prior fiscal year. For the six months ended March 31, 2015, the company recorded revenues of $49.1 million and a net loss of $10.6 million, or $0.82 per diluted share. For the comparable period last year, the company recorded revenues of $169.9 million and a net income of $35.0 million, or $2.66 per diluted share. The company noted that its results for the three and six month periods ended March 31, 2015 include the revenue recognition of a $3.0 million non-refundable deposit received from Seafloor Geophysical Solutions AS (SGS) in fiscal year 2014 as a down payment toward the purchase of an OBX system. Due to capital constraints, SGS was unable to take delivery of the system. Walter R. (“Rick”) Wheeler, Geospace Technologies’ President and CEO said, “Depressed market conditions for seismic equipment sales and rentals remained persistent throughout our second quarter. After removing the revenue impact of the SGS deposit, second quarter revenues were sequentially 18% higher than reported in our first quarter; however, when compared to last year’s second quarter, our fiscal year 2015 second quarter revenues fell by $43.6 million or 64%. Adjusted revenues for the six months ended March 31, 2015 declined by $123.8 million or 73% from the same period last year. Comparatively, these year-over-year reductions are a direct consequence of having no performing contracts underway in the current fiscal year for the manufacture of permanent reservoir monitoring (PRM) systems, along with significant lower market demand for all of our other seismic products.” “Traditional seismic product revenues in the second fiscal quarter were $9.6 million, a decrease of $3.5 million or 27% from the previous year. For the six months ended March 31, 2015, revenues were $17.3 million, representing a reduction of $16.2 million or 48% from the prior year period. The revenue decline for both periods is due to unusually large geophone orders that occurred in last year’s first quarter along with much weaker demand in the current year periods for traditional land and marine products in the current seismic industry environment.” “Wireless product revenues of $12.1 million in the second fiscal quarter were similar to those reported for the same period last year. As noted above, we recognized $3.0 million of wireless product revenues in the second quarter in connection with SGS’s inability to take delivery of an OBX system. SGS is continuing their efforts to secure funding for their business plans and, if successful, it may lead to a newly negotiated agreement for the rental or purchase of an OBX system. Excluding the effect of this deposit, our adjusted wireless revenues for the second quarter decreased by $3.4 million or 27% from last year. For the six months ended March 31, 2015, adjusted wireless revenues decreased $43.2 million or 74%. Only 5,400 GSX channels were sold in the first six months of the current fiscal year compared to 77,000 GSX channels in the same period of the prior year. These declines are further evidence of the weak demand for land seismic equipment in today’s market. Amidst these otherwise depressed market conditions, we are actively issuing quotations for our cableless OBX ocean bottom nodal systems and we see increases in the number of applied uses for the OBX and the number of channels utilized in some survey operations. Most of our OBX customers are encountering delays in the awarding of tendered jobs as well as delayed startups for jobs in hand, so there remains some uncertainty for this niche market as it continues to unfold.” “Reservoir product revenues for the second quarter totaled $1.1 million, a decrease of $37.1 million or 97% from last year. For the six months ended March 31, 2015, revenues in this segment were $3.3 million, a drop of $64.1 million or 95% from the previous year. For both periods, the decrease can be mostly attributed to having no contracts underway in the current year for the production of PRM systems. Additionally, our borehole and other reservoir products are also experiencing similar lower demand in the current seismic market. Although we have no PRM contracts currently in hand, we continue to have working discussions with potential customers who are interested in pursuing future PRM systems. We reiterate that no significant revenues associated with PRM contracts are anticipated in fiscal year 2015. However, we believe that our unchallenged expertise, past successes and ongoing research and development in this technology will continue to facilitate significant opportunities for future PRM contracts.” “Despite the depressed conditions in our seismic businesses, we are pleased to report improving profits in our non-seismic businesses. For the three months ended March 31, 2015, our non-seismic businesses reported revenues of $5.0 million and operating income of $0.5 million compared to revenues of $4.8 million and operating income of $0.3 million last year. For the six months ended March 31, 2015, this segment reported revenues of $10.5 million and operating income of $1.4 million compared to revenues of $10.7 million and operating income of $1.0 million last year.” “Broad and ongoing decline in seismic exploration activity has led to a significant reduction in demand for our products. We expect this lowered demand to persist or worsen until our customers see an increase in demand for their seismic exploration services. With low rental fleet utilization and largely curtailed manufacturing activity, gross profits will remain severely challenged by ongoing rental fleet depreciation and fixed factory overhead costs. In coping with these market conditions, we have made adjustments to reduce costs and preserve cash while maintaining critical infrastructure and core competencies within the organization. Factory hours have been cut roughly 60% from a year ago through personnel reductions and other control measures. Plans for further facility consolidation are underway. In addition, both discretionary and planned capital expenditures have been reduced or deferred, including those associated with our Pinemont plant expansion. We further note that significant payments for 2014 property taxes and fiscal year 2014 incentive compensation expenses, together totaling over $10 million, are now behind us. As additional financial strengthening, just this week, we amended and renewed our credit agreement with Frost Bank for a three year period. The amended credit agreement allows us to borrow up to $30.0 million as determined by a borrowing base, whereas our previous agreement significantly restricted our ability to borrow during these difficult market conditions. In consideration of these things, we believe the strength of our balance sheet and the advantages offered by our products and technologies provide us the requisite means to weather the current industry cycle.” Geospace Technologies will host a conference call to review its fiscal year 2015 second quarter financial results on May 8, 2015, at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time (9 a.m. Central). Participants can access the call at (866) 952-1907 (US) or (785) 424-1826 (International). Please reference the conference ID: GEOSQ215 prior to the start of the conference call. A replay will be available for approximately 60 days and may be accessed through the Investor tab of our website at www.geospace.com. Geospace Technologies Corporation designs and manufactures instruments and equipment used by the oil and gas industry to acquire seismic data in order to locate, characterize and monitor hydrocarbon producing reservoirs. The company also designs and manufactures non-seismic products, including industrial products, offshore cables, thermal printing equipment and film. This press release includes “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. All statements other than statements of historical fact included herein including statements regarding potential future products and markets, our potential future revenues, future financial position, business strategy, future expectations and estimates and other plans and objectives for future operations, are forward-looking statements. We believe our forward-looking statements are reasonable. However, they are based on certain assumptions about our industry and our business that may in the future prove to be inaccurate. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from our expectations include the level of seismic exploration worldwide, which is influenced primarily by prevailing prices for oil and gas, the extent to which our new products are accepted in the market, the availability of competitive products that may be more technologically advanced or otherwise preferable to our products, tensions in the Middle East and other factors disclosed under the heading “Risk Factors” and elsewhere in our most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K and Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q, which are on file with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Further, all written and verbal forward-looking statements attributable to us or persons acting on our behalf are expressly qualified in their entirety by such factors. We assume no obligation to revise or update any forward-looking statement, whether written or oral, that we may make from time to time, whether as a result of new information, future developments or otherwise.
News Article | September 30, 2014
Big-name telecom providers and networking manufacturers, like Brocade and Cisco, have joined together under the auspices of the Linux Foundation to help develop a standardized open-source framework for network functions virtualization (NFV). The new organization, called the Open Platform for NFV Project (OPNFV), aims to bring a standard way of using NFV technology to the mainstream so that carriers and other companies can build new high-tech networking products faster. As the OpenDaylight project, which just released the second version of its codebase, aims to bring a uniform standard to software defined networking (SDN) by creating a software controller that everyone can agree upon, OPNFV wants to take it a step further and try to standardize a way of virtualizing the entire network, not just one piece, explained Jim Zemlin, the executive director of Linux. This idea of virtualizing every part of the network, not just the software controller, is what separates NFV from SDN, said Prodip Sen, the board chair of OPNFV and a Hewlett-Packard CTO. During Sen’s time working at his previous job at Verizon, he said he learned how difficult it was for major operators to adopt SDN because of the legacy equipment telcos use to power their vast and complicated networks. Given the complexity and scale of these carriers’ network infrastructure, it would make more sense to virtualize all of the hardware gear in their networks — including load balancers, firewalls and even the gear designed to facilitate networking communication activity like the IP Multimedia Subsystem, which enables voice over IP. “Each [networking capability] represents an expensive hardware component that is difficult to replace and manage,” Zemlin said. “That represents billions of dollars of stuff replaced by software that’s easier to maintain and is far-less costly.” While the idea for NFV was to help carriers create a more well-managed network through software virtualization, the same idea could be used by enterprises with complex infrastructure as well, said Sen. The first task of OPNFV will be to take the many proof-of-concept NFV technology proposals submitted by the participating companies and consolidate them so as to lay the groundwork for a standard NFV platform that can be built upon, said Sen. The organization is hoping that the participating companies’ enthusiasm bleeds over to the development community as a whole, which could then potentially lead to an active open-source community that could also contribute, Zemlin added. The OPNFV will also incorporate the different open-source technology out there that pertains to networking, like the OpenDaylight’s codebase and OpenStack software, said Sen; however, it will be up to the OPNFV community, once it gets going, to determine which pieces of technology fits into the OPNFV framework. OPNFV is gearing for a potential release of its platform by next year, Zemlin said. It’s worth pointing out that while the OPNFV is working on standardizing a networking concept that views software as the answer for streamlining the complexity of networks, software in itself can be difficult to manage and is notoriously error prone; there’s a reason why configuration management vendors like Ansible and Chef as well as upstarts like Docker are important nowadays and that’s because people want to make working with software and IT a less-burdensome task. Currently, Hewlett Packard, China Mobile, Intel, Juniper Networks, Nokia Networks, NEC, IBM and Red Hat are among the 38 members of OPNFV. Given the amount of companies involved, Zemlin is hoping that the greater good of developing a standard will overshadow the vendor interests that could end up dominating the platform. “All of us are smarter than any one of us,” said Zemlin. “Once the snow ball starts rolling, it is unstoppable.”
This story has been updated. A new scientific study says that rapidly warming waters off the New England coast have had a severe consequence — the collapse of a cod fishery that saw too many catches even as overall cod numbers declined due to warmer seas. It’s just the latest in a series of findings and occurrences — ranging from gigantic snows in Boston last winter, which scientists partly linked with warm seas, to a sudden and “extreme” sea level rise event in 2009-2010 — suggesting that this particular stretch of water is undergoing profound changes. “2004 to 2013, we ended up warming faster than really any other marine ecosystem has ever experienced over a 10 year period,” says Andrew Pershing of the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, lead author of the new study just out in the journal Science. Pershing conducted the work with researchers from his institution and several others in the U.S. including NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colo., and Stony Brook University in New York. The paper reports that during the decade-long period in question, the Gulf of Maine, the ocean region extending from Cape Cod northeast to the southern tip of Nova Scotia, warmed up by a stunning 0.23 degrees Celsius per year (0.41 degrees Fahrenheit). That’s faster warming than occurred in 99.9 percent of the rest of the world ocean, the scientists say. [No, global warming is not going to take away your fish and chips] During the same time period, this fishery’s managers did reduce cod quotas, but not enough — presumably because of a lack of realization about the rapidly warming waters and their stark effects on fish. As a consequence, the overall cod stock now stands at just 4 percent of its optimum size. Last November, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced sharp restrictions on cod fishing in the area, with harsh consequences for fishing dependent communities like Gloucester, Mass. “The Gulf of Maine cod stock, a historic icon of the New England fishery, is in the worst shape we have seen in the 40 years that we have been monitoring it,” said John Bullard, NOAA Fisheries regional administrator for the greater Atlantic region, at the time. At the center of the new study is a demonstration of just how tightly all of this is related to warm waters. Here’s a figure the researchers created to describe their findings: The effect of warm waters on Atlantic cod likely occurs because of a harmful effect on larvae and juvenile fish. But the scientists say they don’t fully understand whether it is related to changes in cod predators or prey, or simply the temperature itself. Warmer temperatures also pose a metabolic challenge to cod as they reach critical reproductive age. The disaster for the fishery wasn’t caused by temperatures alone, however — it was also caused by how humans failed to take them into account, the researchers charge. “Ignoring the influence of temperature produces recruitment estimates that are on average 100% and up to 360% higher than if temperature is included,” the study authors write. Thus, in effect, cod were overfished because ocean warming wasn’t adequately considered in fishing quotas. The effect has not, to be sure, been the same for all species. Take lobsters, for instance, which are now thriving in the same waters. “They’re the flipside of cod,” says Pershing. “They are booming now, especially off the coast of Maine, and that’s due in part to the fact that there are fewer cod which eat lobsters, but also due to the warmer water, which helps them grow faster.” The consequence of the dramatic downturn for the cod fishery has likely been significant for some fishing communities, although there are no definitive data on the matter, says Pershing’s colleague Jen Levin, who manages the sustainable seafood program at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute. But Levin says that the availability of cod on people’s plates hasn’t changed much, since globally, other fisheries are doing far better, such as in the Bering Sea. “From an industry perspective, seafood is one of the most traded commodities on the planet, so as far as what’s available on the marketplace, you can still find cod, it’s just not from here, it’s from other parts of the world,” says Levin. What’s most intriguing is what is causing the dramatically warm waters — and how this may relate to other observed changes in the region. Clearly, part of the cause is the overall ocean warming trend that has been seen around the globe due to climate change. But at the same time, the researchers say, the warm and salty Gulf Stream has also moved northward over the course of the last century. In late 2011, in fact, there was a dramatic northward movement that led to the warming of some New England lobster traps by more than 6 degrees Celsius, or over 10 degrees Fahrenheit. [Global warming is now slowing down the circulation of the oceans — with potentially dire consequences] This change has also been linked to a warming climate, but for more complex reasons. Among other factors, the northward shift of the Gulf Stream appears tied to a larger change in Atlantic ocean circulation — the slowing of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, or AMOC, which carries warm surface water northward and cold water southward at depth, and is driven by differences in temperature and salinity of these waters. “AMOC interacts with the bottom of the ocean and when it slows, the interaction with the bottom causes the Gulf stream to shift north,” says Michael Alexander, one of the study authors and a researcher at NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colo., by e-mail. “Once the Gulf Stream shifts north some of the warm water it carries is able to work its way into coastal waters, including the Gulf of Maine.” “There are long-term changes in ocean circulation in the North Atlantic, most likely driven by anthropogenic climate change, that have led to a ‘cold blo[b]‘ in the sub-polar central North Atlantic, but might actually be responsible at least in part for the anomalous warmth in the far western North Atlantic,” adds Penn State University climate researcher Michael Mann, who reviewed the new study for the Post. In effect, the idea is that as less warm water moves north into the waters below Greenland, there’s more that can linger off the U.S. east coast. [Why some scientists are so worried about a cold ‘blob’ in the North Atlantic ocean] The consequences of these changes may be affecting far more than cod and the people who fish for them. For instance, a slowing of the AMOC was also recently associated by scientists with a sudden and dramatic 4 inch East Coast sea level rise event in 2009 and 2010. Slowing the circulation is expected to cause U.S. sea level rise because it weakens the contrast between warm waters to the right (or European side) of the Gulf Stream and cooler waters on its left (or American side). Warm water is less dense than cold water. It thus takes up more space. Scientists like Mann have also linked warm ocean temperatures off New England to the dramatic snowfalls that Boston experienced earlier this year — noting that warmer water means there is more moisture in the atmosphere above it. And this moisture, if swept up in a storm, can produce more precipitation. In sum, it’s all part of a bigger picture, Mann says: And research to understand the other consequences of such stark ocean warming in the Gulf of Maine and off of the coast of New England has only begun. “We’re seeing an ecosystem going through a really massive change, and I really want my colleagues to look at this. We need to understand what it means,” says Pershing. How super low natural gas prices are reshaping how we get our power Scientists confirm that East Antarctica’s biggest glacier is melting from below Congressional skeptic on global warming demands records from U.S. climate scientists For more, you can sign up for our weekly newsletter here, and follow us on Twitter here.