Some interesting news from the map world. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced today that effective April 13, 2014 they will no longer print paper nautical charts.
For those readers who are panicking and already drafting a letter to congress, there is no need to worry as you will still be able to get paper charts via print-on-demand distributors.
According to the NOAA, the decision to stop production of paper maps was due to several factors including the decline for paper charts, the increase in both digital and electronic charts and finally, federal budget realities.
The big change here is that the NOAA is getting out of storing a huge stock of charts that often take years to sell through. By fully switching over to print-on-demand charts, the NOAA is able to push out updates to distributers significantly faster (with monthly updates) and thus you are ensured that you have the most up-to-date version when purchased.
If you use digital charts you will still be able to get them from the NOAA in a variety of formats including electronic navigational charts (NOAA ENC), raster navigational charts (NOAA RNC) as well as full-scale PDF charts as part of a brand-new pilot project.
The new NOAA PDF pilot project looks very interesting. For the next three months they are offering 1000 of their most popular charts available in PDF format. They want to guage popularity and collect user comments before rolling out the entire catalogue. The biggest appeal of PDF charts is that they are easily viewable on many different platforms including phones, tablets and computers as well as easily printed out at home (though they are technically for reference only, not for navigation).
Deep Zoom is a very cool mash-up using Bing Maps and the NOAA nautical charts. By tapping into the NOAA database of tide and current tables, you can see right away what’s going on in your area. The author of the program has made it very clear that it’s strictly a reference tool and not for navigation so don’t use it when pulling into the harbour with your ocean liner.
If you are wondering what the giant arrow is in the middle of the capture, it’s for Deception Pass in Washington State which was maxing out at 7 knots (14km/h).
(Turn the sound down and jump ahead to the 5 min mark. It gets a lot more interesting there.)
The site does require Silverlight to be installed on your computer so it might not work on all work computers (especially if you have a very conservative IT department like my work...).
While some people out there are wishing a happy solstice or patting everybody on the back with the start of summer we must never forget what June 21st is really about. I want to wish you a very pleasant World Hydrography Day as proclaimed by the NOAA via their website.
Ah, World Hydrography Day. That time of year when we are to remember and celebrate the great ocean surveyors of past and present. Without them we wouldn’t have those fantastic charts that both fuel dreams of future paddling trips and confuse new paddlers with all their symbols and squiggly lines.
So after work when somebody raises a glass at your local patio to toast the start of summer, interrupt and tell them to shut up and remember the true reason for the season on this awesome day.
Here is a fantastic video produced by NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory. It’s a compilation of all the satellite images taken by the GOES satellite during the 2008 Atlantic Hurricane Season.
From the website: The GOES satellite is North America's first line of defence in identifying and tracking any tropical cyclonic activity. Every 15 minutes the GOES satellite acquires a new image of the Northern Hemisphere. Using data from the infrared water vapour channel, it is possible to see the storms, as well as the high pressure areas that affect their movement and intensity.
Sadly, the video can’t be embedded into other sites so you will need to click through to actually watch it.
Thanks for Andrew for the tip!