Piracy may be a topic of schoolboy adventure stories, but it’s still a dangerous and costly problem for merchant shipping and tourism in some parts of the world. In the pirate-ridden waters of the Indian Ocean, satellites show that environmental conditions have limited recent pirate activity.
Attacks and hijackings of ships by Somali pirates in waters off the Horn of Africa have sharply increased in recent years, and show no sign of waning.
Somali pirates account for over half of attacks worldwide. But while the number of attacks per year continues to increase, 2011 saw a 40% drop in ‘successful’ attacks – or hijackings – compared to the previous year.
The drop in successful attacks could be due to a number of factors such as increased security – but satellites show that climate is also controlling piracy.
In a study by the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) using information from ESA’s GlobWave project, climate factors were examined alongside piracy in the Indian Ocean.
GlobWave compiles satellite data on ocean waves. Satellites can help to forecast winds and waves, and can therefore indicate favourable conditions for pirate attacks.
Owing to security problems in the region, no in situ measurements were available, making GlobWave data uniquely placed to provide regular and accurate wind and wave height information needed.
The study found that there was a strong correlation between successful pirate activity and wind speed and wave height.
The summer monsoon season from June to September, when weather conditions are usually bad, saw a significant drop in pirate activities. This correlation is probably due to the difficulty of launching pirate boats from beaches when the waves are high.
“What we like about the GlobWave database is that it provides different data from a number of altimeters all in the same format with a very short turnaround time between collection and being available online,” said Sally Garrett, co-author of the paper.
“In the NZDF we have very small teams of people work on projects, so the ability to access an external database rather than develop one in house enables us to include data from a greater number of platforms and analyse a longer time series.”
Featured image: CaptVovan
A strong and shallow M6.3 (CENC) earthquake struck Kangding County, Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Sichuan Province, China at 08:55 UTC (16:55 local time) on November 22, 2014.Epicenter was located 39 km (24 miles) NW of Kangding at depth of 18 km. This was a
Extremely dangerous earthquake measuring M6.8 (JMA) on the Richter scale hit Honshu, Japan on November 22, 2014 at 13:08 UTC (22:08 local time). USGS is reporting M6.2 at depth of 10 km (6.2 miles). JMA is also reporting depth of 10 km.Epicenter was located 16 km (10 mi
A very strong earthquake measuring M6.8 (downgraded from M6.9) on the Richter scale was registered in Molucca Sea, Indonesia at 10:10 UTC (18:10 local time) on November 21, 2014. USGS is reporting depth of 48.2 km (30 miles). Geoscience Australia is reporting M6.8 at de
Water supplies dry up in Brazil as droughts continue to affect world's agricultural regions, destabilizing industrial farming
The problem of a diminishing water supply is taking its toll on the residents of Brazil, pointing to the growing issue of a world that is running out of water and as a result, entering a global crisis which will likely have serious agricultural, social and economic cons
New activity/unrest was observed at 6 volcanoes from November 12 - 18, 2014. Ongoing activity was observed at 15 volcanoes. New activity/unrest: Kilauea, Hawaiian Islands (USA) | Pavlof, United States | Popocatepetl, Mexico | Sinarka, Shiashkotan Island (Russia) | Turri
A deep low pressure system centered over southeastern Canada will continue to push polar air over the eastern half of the US this week. Well below average temperatures will reach the Gulf Coast, with most of the Mid-Atlantic states barely getting above freezing on Wedne
A massive bright orange flash has lit up the sky over Russia's Sverdlovsk region in the Urals on November 14, 2014 at 13:39 UTC (18:39 local time). Videos of this "mysterious" explosion, which happened close to last year's Chelyabinsk event, have surfa
Images from NASA's Dawn Mission have been used to create a series of high-resolution geological maps of the large asteroid Vesta, revealing the variety of surface features in unprecedented detail. These maps are included with a series of 11 scientific papers publish
It seems as though, with each day that passes, yet another health and environmental hazard is identified as being linked to hydraulic fracking, the process of injecting more than 200 chemicals at high pressure into the ground, shattering rock and releasing one America
A strong and shallow earthquake measuring M6.2 on the Richter scale was registered in Prince Edward Islands region (Prince Edward Fracture Zone, off the coast of South Africa) on November 17, 2014 at 16:52 UTC. USGS is reporting depth of 9.4 km (5.9 miles). EMSC is repo
Leonid meteor shower peaks during the night and early morning hours of November 17 and 18. Waning-crescent moon is favorable for this year's Leonids peak and will provide dark enough skies for night sky watchers. Leonids will radiate from the constelation Leo, but c
Unprecedented amounts of rainfall battered parts of France, Switzerland and northern Italy in the last two weeks causing severe flooding and landslides throughout the region. The second round of powerful storms and widespread flooding hit the region over the weekend wit
A strong and shallow M6.1 earthquake was registered in D'entrecasteaux Islands region, Papua New Guinea on November 17, 2014 at 01:06 UTC. USGS is reporting depth of 25.2 km (15.7 miles). EMSC is reporting M6.1 at depth of 45 km.Epicenter was located 245 km (152 mil
A strong earthquake measuring M6.5 (Geonet) on the Richter scale struck off the East Coast of North Island, New Zealand on November 16, 2014 at 22:33 UTC (November 17 at 11:33 local time). Geonet is reporting depth of 31 km. USGS is reporting M6.7 at depth of 22.0 km (1
The following video was compiled from time-lapse videos recorded from the International Space Station, courtesy of the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Centre.
A strong solar flare measuring M5.7 at its peak time erupted from Region 2209 on November 16, 2014. The event started at 17:35, peaked at 17:48 and ended at 17:57 UTC.Region 2209 ('beta-gamma-delta') is Old Region 2192, source of six X-class solar flares during
The eruption of Pavlof Volcano that began on November 12, 2014 has intensified, Alaska Volcano Observatory reported at 20:35 UTC today. Ash cloud height at 20:00 UTC was estimated at 7 620 meters (25 000 ft) above sea level. Thus, the Aviation Color Code has been raise
Old Region 2192, now numbered 2209 ('beta-gamma'), has returned on the Earth side of the Sun, with moderately strong M3.2 solar flare on November 15, 2014. The latest event from this region started at 11:40, peaked at 12:03 and ended at 12:10 UTC.A 10cm Radio Bu
Rosetta's lander Philae has completed its primary science mission after nearly 57 hours on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, ESA proudly announced today. With its batteries now depleted and without enough sunlight available to recharge, Philae has fallen into
A map released yesterday by NASA's Near Earth Object (NEO) Observation Program reveals that small asteroids frequently enter and disintegrate in the Earth's atmosphere with random distribution around the globe. Released to the scientific community, the map visua
A very strong earthquake measuring M7.3 (Geoscience Australia) on the Richter scale was registered in Molucca Sea, Indonesia on November 15, 2014 at 02:31 UTC. USGS initially reported M7.3 at depth of 35 km (21.7 miles) but later downgraded to M7.1. Geoscience Australia
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center scientist Andrew Sayer talks about how emissions from volcanoes can affect clouds. This video provides an overview of research published in the Journal of Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. Research: Systematic satellite observations of
EXIS, the new solar monitoring instrument that will fly aboard new NOAA's GOES-S satellite has completed its final review, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center said yesterday.The Extreme Ultraviolet and X-ray Irradiance Sensors (EXIS) Flight Model 2 instrument that will
Large quantities of gases are emitted to the atmosphere associated with the Holuhraun eruption, Icelandic Met Office (IMO) reported on Thursday, November 13, 2014. Among the gases are SO2 that can convert to sulfuric acid causing acid rain.Rainwater samples have been co
In a media briefing held at ESOC today, ESA confirmed "Philae" lander is alive and operational after three touchdowns on Comet 67/P, located some 511 million kilometers away from Earth. First analysis of the touchdown data suggests that the lander bounced twic
An intense swarm of earthquakes that started on July 12, 2014, is still shaking sparsely populated region of northwest Nevada, USA and is intensifying. The latest in series was a shallow M4.6 (USGS) earthquake registered at 06:36 UTC today. Its epicenter was 63 km (39 m
According to latest Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) activity update for Pavlof issued 03:57 UTC today, the volcano has entered a new phase of eruptive activity. The Aviation Color Code has been increased to Orange and the Volcano Alert Level to Watch. A ground observer
New activity/unrest was observed at 5 volcanoes from November 5 - 11, 2014. Ongoing activity was reported for 11 volcanoes.New activity/unrest: Cerro Negro de Mayasquer, Colombia-Ecuador | Kilauea, Hawaiian Islands (USA) | Popocatepetl, Mexico | Turrialba, Costa Rica
Awesome time-lapse video features show 15 days of solar action from October 14th to 30th, 2014, showing sunspot AR 2192, the largest sunspot of the last two solar cycles or more than two decades. During the transition time Sunspot 2192 produced six X-class and 37 M-clas
ESA Operations have just confirmed - Rosetta's lander named "Philae" successfully landed on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko on November 12, 2014. The touch down happened about 15:34 UTC, while the confirmation signal, as expected, arrived shortly aft
Authorities have urged residents of Moscow to stay indoors with their windows closed, after a smelly noxious fog was reportedly spreading through the parts of the city on Monday, November 10, 2014.The smell has been detected in the south, east, and south-eastern parts o
In 2013 ESA, working with industrial partners, proved that 3D printing using lunar material was feasible in principle. Since then, work continues to investigate the technique. The shielding against radiation provided by a 3D-printed block of simulated lunar regolith was
According to Hawaii County Civil Defense update issued 22:15 UTC on November 10, the front of Kilauea's lava flow remains approximately 150 meters (480 feet) from the Pahoa Village Road. An upslope breakout in the area of Apa’a Street near the cemetery had
After a ten-year journey through the Solar System ESA's Rosetta spacecraft arrived at Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko on August 6, 2014. The mission’s lander, Philae, will be deployed on Wednesday, November 12 at 08:35 UTC from a distance of 22.5 km
Solar wind parameters indicated the arrival of the November 7 CME earlier today. At approximately 01:37 UTC, when CME arrived, total field increased from around 10 nT to a maximum of 23 nT at 01:46 UTC. The Bz component increased to +21 nT before briefly going southward