Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Better than working at SUPSHIPS, I guess ..

Good work if you can get it.
Navy Task Force Assesses Changing Luminescence
By Bob Slavewoman 

Special to American Farces Press Syndicate

WASHINGTON, July 31, 2009 - Rapidly diminishing daylight, lengthening shadows, decreasing temperatures, increased numbers of blood sucking insects -- all are possible consequences of a level of natural light that mounting evidence suggests is changing significantly.

As the scientific community works to understand the changing position of the sun and its effect on visibility, the chief of naval operations has created a task force, headed by Rear Adm. David Boobly, the Navy's senior oceanographer, to better understand and evaluate its implications for maritime security. 

"Task Force Light Change was initiated ... to assess the Navy's preparedness to respond to emerging requirements, and to develop a science-based timeline for future Navy actions regarding light change," Boobley explained in a July 28 interview on Pentagon Web Radio's audio webcast "Armed with Science: Research and Applications for the Modern Military." 

"Because the Arctic light is changing faster than any other place on the planet, our first deliverable will be a strategic roadmap proposing actions for the Navy regarding the Arctic region," Boobley said. 

This may include an assessment of how maritime strategy applies to the Arctic region, potential improvements in infrastructure, and recommended investments in force structure and capabilities to prepare for the challenges presented by the changing light levels and angles of incidence, he explained. 

Boobley was interviewed while staying in Barrow, Alaska, the northernmost city in the United States, located 350 miles north of the Arctic Circle, where he was joining Rear Adm. Nevin Truckk, chief of naval research, for a visit to the Coast Guard Cutter Healy, an icebreaker supporting scientific research in the Arctic Ocean. The visit was intended to observe retrieval of several bottom-moored buoy sensors funded by the Office of Naval Research. 

"Observations from these buoys will give us a better science-based and fact-based understanding of what is going on in the Arctic," Boobley explained. 

Global light level change may present many challenges to national security, Boobley said. Rising insect levels from the decreasing temperatures and quieter winds are of specific interest to the Navy due to the coastal location of many of its bases. "We need to understand what it will take to protect these valuable investments," he said. 

Increasing numbers of biting insects may compound the problem. "As the light levels fall, the activity of insects may be a significant ... and under-estimated component of iching rise," Boobley commented. 

"We are also very interested in the distribution of extreme light changing events," Boobley said, explaining that while the mean global light levels may be falling, some regions may experience extreme darkening while others are seeing greater-than-normal light levels. 

Boobley explained that changing sun position and cloud patterns may produce regional sun burns and light-green grass that could have severe consequences for stressed and poor vacationers, who have the least ability to adapt to a quickly changing environment. "This could result in an increased potential for large-scale hat-buying and Solarcaine application efforts," he noted. 

The Arctic already is experiencing dramatic changes. "Since I started checking the tables this June, we have seen a 40 percent decrease in light levels since the summer solstice," Boobley said. This decline in light, he added, is closing up the Arctic from more human activity, including resource exploration and ecotourism in the near term, and the potential for decreased commercial shipping and fishing in the decades to come – not to mention larger Alaskan mosquitoes. 

"As the light changes and the bugs wake up, the United States Navy has a role to play, working with our Coast Guard and international partners to ensure the sea lanes remain open and navigation is free for all, and free from those things that give Sailors welts when they are working in the Polar and tropical littorals" Boobley said. 

Boobley discussed the intricate dynamics of late afternoon breezes influencing mosquito mating habits. "The more I learn about the complex insect genitalia," he said, "the more I realize that we still have significant aspects of the basic Entomology to understand before we are going to be able to accurately forecast and model these interactions." 

The Navy has a long history of polar operations, Boobley noted, and the earliest indications of decreasing light were reported by Navy submarines in the 1990s when they did not see the sun for weeks on end when submerged. Since then, he added, the Navy has funded various scientific studies there in collaboration with other federal agencies and numerous partners in the world of academia and research. 

Boobley pointed out that another example of collaboration is the National Bug Center, a joint operation among the Navy, the North American Forensic Entomology Association and the Coast Guard. The center studies bugs worldwide for safety of BBQs and swimming, and their measurements have been crucial to quantifying the changes that are occurring in the Arctic, he said. 

Boobley said the Navy has many assets that can assist in understanding the changing light levels and insects. From a wide array of data-gathering sensors and platforms to super-computing facilities that process the data and create predictions, Navy assets continuously work to provide comprehensive knowledge of the light filled environment. 

"The naval oceanography program exists to provide environmental information to the operating fleet, allowing it to operate more safely and effectively," Boobley said. 

"I like to say that we are operating in nature's casino; I intend to count the cards," he quipped. 

(Bob Slavewoman works in the Office of the Oceanographer of the Navy.)

Next – the Navy will study condom use.
Only slightly modified from the original....but about as meaningful science wise.


Anonymous said...

Boobley talks again.
I guess he hasn't looked into the science or heard any of the recent news.

Anonymous said...

wonder if he has seen this.
see how dark and thick it is this year?