New forecasting method: Predicting extreme floods in the Andes mountains

This might allow for improved disaster preparedness. As the complex systems technique builds upon a mathematical comparison that can be utilized for any time series data, the approach could be applied to extreme events in all sorts of complex systems.

"Current weather forecast models cannot capture the intensity of the most extreme rainfall events, yet these events are of course the most dangerous, and can have severe impacts for the local population, for example major floods or even landslides," says lead author Niklas Boers of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). "Using complex networks analysis, we now found a way to predict such events in the South American Andes."

When the monsoon hits South America from December to February, it brings moist warm air masses from the tropical Atlantic. Travelling westwards, these winds are blocked by the steep Andes mountains, several thousand metres high, and turn southwards. Under specific air pressure conditions, the warm air masses, loaded with moisture, meet cold and dry winds approaching from the south. This leads to abundant rainfall at high elevations, resulting in floods in the densely populated foothills of the Bolivian and Argentinian Andes. "Surprisingly, and in contrast to widespread understanding so far, these events propagate against the southward wind direction," says Boers.

'Big Data' analysis of observational time series from satellites

The international team of scientists performed a 'Big Data' analysis of close to 50,000 high-resolution weather data time series dating from the 15 years since high quality satellite data became available, generated by NASA together with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. "We found that these huge rainfall clusters start off in the area around Buenos Aires, but then wander northwestward towards the Andes, where after two days they cause extreme rainfall events", says Boers. The new method makes it possible to correctly predict 90 percent of extreme rainfall events in the Central Andes occurring during conditions of the El Niño weather phenomenon when floods are generally more frequent, and 60 percent of those occurring under any other conditions.

"While the findings were hard to derive, local institutions can now apply them quite easily by using readily available data, which helps a lot," says co-author José A. Marengo of the National Institute for Space Research in Sao Paulo, Brazil. "Major rainfall events can result in floods which for instance in early 2007 alone produced estimated costs of more than 400 million US dollars in the region. It is now up to the affected countries to adapt their disaster preparation planning."

Method can be applied to the climate, but also to financial markets

"Comparing weather data sounds simple enough, but it actually took the new mathematical tool that we developed to detect the intricate connections that lead to the extremes," says co-author Jürgen Kurths, co-chair of PIK's research domain Transdisciplinary Concepts and Methods. "The data was there, but nobody joined the dots like this before. The method provides a general framework that could now be applied to forecast extreme changes in time series of other complex systems," says Kurths. "In fact, this could be financial markets, brain activity, or even earthquakes."

 

Distance is being eliminated with a demonstration of the world’s longest distance 100Gbps research network connection, showcasing New Zealand’s future capacity on the Southern Cross cable, at the REANNZ-hosted GLIF 2014 conference in Queenstown.

The 100Gbps network across the Pacific Ocean via the Southern Cross cable, is being deployed by REANNZ, provider of high-performance network services for New Zealand’s research and education communities, in collaboration with Chorus, Ciena, Juniper Networks, Level 3 Communications, Pacific Wave, Rydges Hotel, Southern Cross, and Vodafone. 

The network capacity being delivered is more than 4000 times faster than basic residential broadband and 1000 times faster than ultra-fast broadband currently available in New Zealand.

The network will be used for a range of world-first, real-time data intensive demonstrations for the GLIF 2014 Conference next week, from 29 September. GLIF is an annual gathering of the world’s leading high-performance network engineers. 

“This is the longest 100Gbps research network yet, spanning some 20,500km between Queenstown and California,” says Steve Cotter, CEO of REANNZ. 

“It’s a snapshot of the future capacity REANNZ has planned for New Zealand’s research and education community, ensuring we can participate globally in an increasingly borderless and data-intensive world. To stay ahead, it’s critical that we have best available connectivity.”

REANNZ has worked with a global consortium to deliver the 100Gbps Pacific network, powered by Ciena’s industry-leading 6500 Packet-Optical Platform, illustrating REANNZ’s programme to build network capability. The deployment builds on Juniper Network’s infrastructure that supports a 100Gbps line connecting its Auckland fibre optic ring to two Southern Cross Cable Network landing stations.

It reaches from Rydges Hotel in Queenstown hotel to Vodafone’s optical network spanning across to Auckland where the network then travels on Southern Cross’ 100Gbps switching and transmission network across the Pacific Ocean to California - the round trip taking less than half a second.

“We have a range of exciting demonstrations planned that will showcase what this class of connection can do and what it means for New Zealand,” says Cotter. 

“Science and research is now global and it’s data intensive, involving teams working together across dozens of countries on huge projects. The faster you can move data to be analysed, visualised or shared with your partners, the more competitive you and your country will be.

“Ultimately REANNZ wants to eliminate the tyranny of distance for our research and education communities, which will help them to be as competitive internationally as possible.”

Bluebird Network has deployed the ADVA 100G Core to connect major urban areas within Missouri. Primarily focusing upon a data expressway between Kansas City and St. Louis, Bluebird Network is using the ADVA 100G Core to respond to enormous bandwidth growth from its service provider and enterprise customers. Deployment of the ADVA 100G Core is the latest in a seven-year partnership between ADVA Optical Networking and Bluebird Network. This partnership has helped to drive both rural and urban connectivity to new heights, ensuring Missouri's customers have access to the bandwidth they need.
 
“Our customers depend upon our network; depend upon our commitment to drive it forward. They trust us with their business, with their bottom line,” said Michael Morey, CEO, Bluebird Network. “This is something we never take for granted and underlines why our partnership with ADVA Optical Networking is so important. For over seven years, the team at ADVA Optical Networking has helped us to continually develop our network, helped us to continually exceed our customers' expectations. The deployment of the ADVA 100G Core clearly exemplifies this. They helped us every step of the way. In fact, the ADVA 100G Core was ordered, installed and carrying live traffic within a matter of days.”
 
Fully integrated into the ADVA FSP 3000, the ADVA 100G Core is built on coherent receivers, low-noise amplification and increased non-liner optical tolerance. Deployed extensively by service providers across the globe, the ADVA 100G Core ensures robust scalability to answer fierce data growth. This scalability is key for Bluebird Network, not only for its burgeoning state-wide traffic but also for its national transport. As a key member of the Alliances Telecom Group (INDATEL), Bluebird Network is responsible for a growing amount of interstate data. In addition to the ADVA 100G Core, Bluebird Network also subscribes to ADVA Optical Networking's Care program that ensures rapid response to network issues.
 
“Technology can only take you so far, can only bring you so much success,” commented John Scherzinger, senior vice president, North America Sales, ADVA Optical Networking. “It's your team and your relationship with your customers that enables you to truly excel. Our relationship with Bluebird Network clearly highlights this. For over seven years we've worked side-by-side to build one of the most advanced networks in the state. There's an incredible trust here and it's one that enables us to move fast, just look at how quickly we deployed our ADVA 100G Core. With this combination of technology, team and trust, we're able to help Bluebird Network continue to drive its network forward, continue to meet customer needs.”

Membership will bring advanced broadband capabilities to remote areas

Students and researchers across Wyoming will now have access to advanced collaborative resources through the national Internet2 networking consortium.

Wyoming’s statewide government and educational system has joined the U.S. Unified Community Anchor Network (U.S. UCAN), an Internet2 community program working with regional research and education networks across the country to advance broadband capabilities.

The new capabilities are being made possible through the State of Wyoming; the University of Wyoming; the Front Range GigaPoP (FRGP), a regional network managed by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR); and the Western Regional Network, a regional network providing the three Internet2 connections managed by the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC).

Wyoming is the 44th state to offer U.S. UCAN connections.

“We've had a long and valuable relationship with the State of Wyoming,” said FRGP manager Marla Meehl, who heads High Performance Networking at UCAR. “We are pleased and excited that we are now able to extend access to the preeminent U.S. network for research and education.”

That relationship, Meehl noted, includes networking for the state-of-the-art NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center in Cheyenne, which opened in 2012.

-----New connections, new resources-----

Through U.S. UCAN membership, Wyoming state entities will be able to connect community anchor institutions to advanced broadband capabilities and applications. In turn, those anchor institutions will be able to interact directly with more than 93,000 other anchor institutions across the nation that are connected to Internet2.

For example, Wyoming K-12 schools will be able to take advantage of a number of resources. These range from interactive master music classes to the Presidential Primary Sources Project, where students can interact with past U.S. presidents and take part in virtual field trips to various national parks and presidential libraries.

“We continue to expand access to high-speed broadband. This benefits all citizens and particularly children,” said Wyoming Governor Matt Mead. “Resources like Internet2 allow us to compete and collaborate globally. I thank UW for its help and the Front Range GigaPoP staff for making this possible.”

Robert Aylward, University of Wyoming vice president and chief information officer, noted that many state-affiliated entities, such as K-12 schools and community and technical colleges have typically not been eligible or able to become Internet2 members themselves, due to the size of their institutions or the costs associated with individual access. “Now these institutions will be able to use the network to expand global and local collaborations,” Aylward said.

Louis Fox, president and CEO of CENIC, added, “We welcome Wyoming's participation in education and research initiatives--in California and the West, through the Western Regional Network--and nationally, through U.S. UCAN.”

On the Web
Front Range GigaPoP
http://www.frgp.net

U.S.UCAN
http://www.internet2.edu/vision-initiatives/initiatives/us-ucan

Accidental find offers big potential for research on Alaska's glaciers

Alaska's seismic network records thousands of quakes produced by glaciers, capturing valuable data that scientists could use to better understand their behavior, but instead their seismic signals are set aside as oddities. The current earthquake monitoring system could be "tweaked" to target the dynamic movement of the state's glaciers, suggests State Seismologist Michael West, who will present his research today at the annual meeting of the Seismological Society of America (SSA).

"In Alaska, these glacial events have been largely treated as a curiosity, a by-product of earthquake monitoring," said West, director of the Alaska Earthquake Center, which is responsible for detecting and reporting seismic activity across Alaska.

The Alaska seismic network was upgraded in 2007-08, improving its ability to record and track glacial events. "As we look across Alaska's glacial landscape and comb through the seismic record, there are thousands of these glacial events. We see patterns in the recorded data that raise some interesting questions about the glaciers," said West.

As a glacier loses large pieces of ice on its leading edge, a process called calving, the Alaska Earthquake Center's monitoring system automatically records the event as an earthquake. Analysts filter out these signals in order to have a clear record of earthquake activity for the region. In the discarded data, West sees opportunity.

"We have amassed a large record of glacial events by accident," said West. "The seismic network can act as an objective tool for monitoring glaciers, operating 24/7 and creating a data flow that can alert us to dynamic changes in the glaciers as they are happening." It's when a glacier is perturbed or changing in some way, says West, that the scientific community can learn the most.

Since 2007, the Alaska Earthquake Center has recorded more than 2800 glacial events along 600 km of Alaska's coastal mountains. The equivalent earthquake sizes for these events range from about 1 to 3 on the local magnitude scale. While calving accounts for a significant number of the recorded quakes, each glacier's terminus – the end of any glacier where the ice meets the ocean – behaves differently. Seasonal variations in weather cause glaciers to move faster or slower, creating an expected seasonal cycle in seismic activity. But West and his colleagues have found surprises, too.

In mid-August 2010, the Columbia Glacier's seismic activity changed radically from being relatively quiet to noisy, producing some 400 quakes to date. These types of signals from the Columbia Glacier have been documented every single month since August 2010, about the time when the Columbia terminus became grounded on sill, stalling its multi-year retreat.

That experience highlighted for West the value of the accidental data trove collected by the Alaska Earthquake Center. "The seismic network is blind to the cause of the seismic events, cataloguing observations that can then be validated," said West, who suggests the data may add value to ongoing field studies in Alaska.

Many studies of Alaska's glaciers have focused on single glacier analyses with dedicated field campaigns over short periods of time and have not tracked the entire glacier complex over the course of years. West suggests leveraging the data stream may help the scientific community observe the entire glacier complex in action or highlight in real time where scientists could look to catch changes in a glacier.

"This is low-hanging fruit," said West of the scientific advances waiting to be gleaned from the data. 

Page 9 of 45