Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Architectural Graphic Standards thru MLibrary

In case you didn't know, you can get SOME of AGS online through the Library.

When it prompts you for a download, allow it and click "Connect." You'll probably get a security warning, but Connect anyways. You'll need your UM username and Kerberos Password.


Monday, March 22, 2010

Model Cruise Ship 1"=32'

~~~"The MDF Cruiseliner"~~~

Length 27.5in 880ft
Platform Height 1.5in 48ft
Width 3.375in 108ft
Top Deck Height 3.5in 112ft
Total Height 5.5in 176ft
Waterline (~bottom MDF layer)
~1in ~32ft

tootsie + architecture

somethin' like a phenomenon...

bill murray might be on to something. he [only slightly drunkenly] dreams of a theater that is only open when it rains...




Cruise Terminal

Customs/ temp holding/ interrogation

Ticketing counter, check in

Baggage Handling

Security checkpoint

Waiting room(s) (200 pl)

Concessions/ commercial

Parking (150 cars)

food/ gas loading

20-25% service areas (bathrooms, circulation, storage, etc)

control towers

offices (10-15 small, open office, 2 conference rooms)

Inner Harbor for smaller boats




Coast Guard

offices (4)

dock for CG boats

Winter Program


must have public space

accessible 24/7

should involve some level of conversion

interior. exterior

Mid Review

site plans- at various scales

Cook Inlet scale

Anchorage scale

building scale

model of building

model- 1: 1/64 minimum/ 2ft minimum

plans and sections

ground plan in situ and all other plans- 1: 1/32

1 building section in situ and 3 cross sections

2 other products of your choice

ex: series of vignettes, textures, drawings that deal with water level change

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Two-wheeled travelers pumped for paths

City bicycle plan would vastly expand network of routes

Dozens of miles of new bike lanes. Marked bike routes. Special spots for bikes at intersections. More paved pathways. Thousands of people riding their bikes to work, school, stores, movies, the doctor's office, wherever they need to go.

Anchorage biking facts
REQUIRED - All bikes must be equipped with a bell or other audible warning device under city law.

DRUNK - When alcohol is a factor in a bike-vehicle crash, 80 percent of the time the cyclist is under the influence.

DANGEROUS - The Lake Otis Parkway sidewalk is considered one of the riskiest places to bike.

That's the vision for cycling in the city laid out in the proposed Anchorage Bicycle Plan. It's ambitious, in some ways surprising, and wildly popular among Anchorage's growing community of cyclists.

It aims to double the number of people who cycle for transportation; cut the number of crashes between vehicles and bikes by one-third; and dramatically expand Anchorage's network of bike lanes, paths and routes.

Anchorage, cycling enthusiasts say, can be just as bike-friendly as other winter cities such as Boulder, Colo., where nearly 10 percent of people commute by bike, and Minneapolis, where the number of bike commuters tops 4 percent, second highest in the nation among large cities and right behind bike-crazy Portland, Ore.

The idea is to make biking more convenient and less dangerous so that more people do it.

"When you address those factors, you see people taking advantage of being on a bike, for a variety of reasons," said Brian Litmans, president of Bicycle Commuters of Anchorage, a two-year-old advocacy group. "Health reasons, environmental reasons, economic reasons."

The Anchorage Assembly is considering the 164-page bike plan that's been in the works since October 2007. The proposal will be up for a second public hearing and possibly a vote on Tuesday evening.


So far, no Assembly member has come out against the plan. Dozens of bike plan supporters came to the March 2 hearing and waited for hours to speak while the Assembly members dealt with other issues. Many pedaled there. All 16 who testified liked at least elements of the plan. Almost all the people who have called the mayor's office about the plan like it, too.

"I think most of the Assembly is pretty supportive of a low-cost way to provide more transportation options for Anchorage residents," said Patrick Flynn, Assembly chairman and a former bike commuter.

Much essential work including striping in bike lanes and identifying safe routes with signs can be done for about $8 million, spread over the next 14 years, according to Lori Schanche, the city's non-motorized transportation coordinator and point person on the plan.

The overall projected cost is much bigger, $118 million over 20 years or longer. That includes big-ticket items like an idea for a pathway through town along the Alaska Railroad right-of-way that may never be built. Other improvements, not tallied in that total, are linked to road projects already in the works, such as pathways along the Seward Highway frontage roads.

Mayor Dan Sullivan, who inherited the project from the Begich administration, said he supports better-connected trails and bike lanes but has concerns about the price tag.

"We're OK with it going forward," Sullivan said. "Will it happen overnight and will we be able to do everything the plan suggests? Probably not."


Anyway, most people just ride in the summer on existing trails, the mayor said.

"How much money do you spend over and above what you might be doing now for a very, very small segment of the population?" asked Sullivan, himself a summertime recreational cyclist who takes to the Coastal Trail.


For a city wrapped in snow, slush and ice much of the year, Anchorage already is big on biking.

A 2008 survey by the U.S. Census Bureau estimated 1 percent of Anchorage commuters travel mainly by bike. That works out to roughly 1,500 bike commuters, give or take a few hundred, with more in summer and fewer in winter.

That rate is twice the national average and represents a doubling for Anchorage from 2000, according to an analysis by the League of American Bicyclists, an advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., that gives Anchorage good marks for pro-bike efforts so far.

A more detailed Anchorage travel study from 2002, based on diaries kept by a sampling of residents that spring, found about 11,500 trips per weekday by bike in Anchorage, the same as the number of People Mover riders. A third of the bike trips were recreational, but many people were cycling to work or school, and some were shopping. The average trip: five miles each way.

As to the mayor's concerns about spending to benefit a few, bike commuters respond that every time someone bikes instead of drives, that's one fewer car on the road, which benefits everyone.

"That means less traffic congestion. Less pollution. Less parking problems. Less wear and tear on our roads," bike commuter Kristi Wood told the Assembly.

If improving Anchorage's bike network means fewer vehicles on the road, that's definitely a plus, said Aves Thompson, executive director of the Alaska Trucking Association.


The bike plan, if it gets Assembly approval, would guide city and community leaders for the next 20 years.

It contains broad goals, such as doubling bike ridership for transportation -- what the planners call "utility cycling" as opposed to recreational biking -- along with many specifics.

Anchorage's network of bike lanes, shared roads and pathways for cyclists would grow from 248 miles to 541 miles, counting Eagle River and Chugiak additions proposed by Assembly member Debbie Ossiander.

Many elements came from the public and a core group of a dozen cyclists.

"The biggest surprise was the fact they wanted to be on the roads," Schanche said. "We've got our greenbelt trails. We've got the Campbell trail. We've got the Chester trail. We've got the Coastal trail. But everyone was trying to get to Midtown, to downtown, to U-Med. These trails don't necessarily get you to those locations."

Among the plan highlights:

• Much of the newly designated pavement for bikers would put them on the streets, not on separate paths. Of the nearly 300 additional miles proposed, about 100 miles would be bike lanes on streets, up from the current eight miles. And 54 miles would be paved shoulders. Much of that work can be done by striping off bike lanes on roads already wide enough, and putting up signs to mark paved shoulders as bike routes, Schanche said.

• The highest priorities for improvement are in places with a history of crashes and along core routes, such as the proposed addition of bike lanes along C and A streets.

• Education is a key element. Both drivers and cyclists need to better understand safe practices, expectations and the rules of the road, the plan says.

Bike lanes would address the problem of motorists making turns off or onto busy roads and plowing into cyclists riding along sidewalks or other pathways, cyclists say.

With bike lanes, it's more clear where everyone needs to be, cyclists say.

"It's becoming a lot friendlier than when I came here 20 years ago, but I don't feel safe," said Dawn Groth, a registered nurse who bikes year-round along Tudor Road to her job at Alaska Native Medical Center and to school at Alaska Pacific University. She takes the path when it's clear, but rides on the road when the path is icy or buried under fresh snow.

The health benefits of biking are incredible and she wouldn't give it up, she said. She has commuted by bike since she was a 16-year-old in North Dakota headed to her first job. She's now 43.


As it stands, Anchorage can be a dangerous place for cyclists. Between 1994 and 2008, there were more than 2,000 bike-vehicle crashes including 175 in which riders suffered major injuries, according to the state Department of Transportation. Nine cyclists were killed.

Kristi Wood told the Assembly this month that she supports the plan as a way to make riding safer.

She's a software engineer who commutes 17 miles round-trip along a combination of multi-purpose trails and roadside bike paths.

Wood began commuting by bike one summer five years ago and didn't stop when the weather turned. It's easier than most people think, she said, with a mountain bike, studded or snow tires, and double layers of clothing. She eventually sold her car.

Then she was hit by a utility van.

It was Oct. 16, 2008. She was riding on a pathway on A Street. She had the pedestrian signal at the Benson Boulevard intersection. The driver turned right on red onto Benson, an illegal maneuver at that intersection, and plowed into her, she told the Assembly.

She was banged up. Her bike was totaled. But she never considered giving up cycling.

What happened to her shows why bike lanes are important, Wood told the Assembly. The driver might have noticed her had she been on the road. Markings known as bike boxes that designate a space for bikers at intersections also could make a difference, she said.


But can this bike plan really work in Anchorage, considering the average snowfall of 70 inches?

No doubt, say cyclists.

Over the past couple of winters, bike commuter Litmans said he has seen a dramatic boost in riders on the roads and trails. One factor, cyclists say, is that the city is doing much better plowing pathways.

"Slowly the word is getting out that if you dress properly and have a bike that is safe, you can get around in winter," Litmans said. He rides a mountain bike with studded tires from Airport Heights along the Chester Creek Trail, up E Street and through town to his downtown job as an environmental lawyer.

Anchorage bike shops this winter were selling out of fat bikes, the ones with the big, bouncy tires intended for trail riding in snow. Women in particular were snatching them up for winter commuting, said Jamey Stull, co-owner of Chain Reaction Cycles in South Anchorage.

The better the city maintains the bike network, the more people will ride, cyclists say.

When it snows in Boulder, for instance, the city dispatches a separate crew to plow major bike pathways at the same time roads are cleared, said Marni Ratzel, a bike-pedestrian transportation planner for a city program called Go Boulder.

Minneapolis, with average annual snowfall of about 52 inches, also makes plowing of bike paths a priority, though bike lanes on streets don't get the same attention.

"Curbside bike lanes seem to disappear in the winter, especially if there is a lot of snow. Parked cars also seem to invade the bike lanes as well. Most off-street bike trails, however, are plowed, with some getting faster service than city streets," John Stiles, communications director for Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, said in an e-mail.

In Anchorage, where roads narrow all winter as snow is mounded along the sides, Litmans said cyclists wouldn't expect every bike lane to be plowed.

"It may mean only clearing the most highly used bike lanes and recognizing that a lot of bicyclists will find another way to get where they are going."

Back in Business!

Signs of recovery for cruise industry, and debate on Alaska
In Miami Beach, Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell hears that cruise ships seek out business environments more favorable than his state's. Industry execs say 2010's outlook is bright.

Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell came to the Seatrade Cruise Shipping convention in Miami Beach Tuesday to deliver a message that Alaska is open for business to the cruise industry.

But the governor and a contingent of Alaskan tourism officials got a strong message back from the cruise lines: Faced with stiff environmental regulation and taxes in Alaska, cruise ships will sail off to more friendly waters, industry executives on a panel at Seatrade agreed.

The cruise industry has slashed the number of berths devoted to cruising in Alaska in 2010 by 17 percent from 2009. That means 140,000 fewer tourists.

Panelist Stein Kruse, president and chief executive of Holland America Line, said cruise ships ``faced with overzealous regulations'' will use their flexibility to move to favorable business environments.

In a punitive regulatory environment, ``we can and will redeploy our ships,'' Kruse said.

Disappointing ticket prices for Alaskan cruises last year also contributed to the pull-back in ships in Alaska, as recession-battered consumers looked for bargain trips, often with little or no airfare costs.

The debate over Alaska came as top cruise industry executives told a standing-room-only crowd at Seatrade that the industry is making a comeback from the darkest days of 2009.

So far in 2010, demand for Alaska cruises has improved, as has demand more broadly.

``We're seeing solid signs of recovery, albeit one that will play out over the next couple of years,'' Kevin Sheehan, chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line, told the crowd.

The cruise industry, which is based in South Florida, was forced to resort to deep discounting to fill ships during the economic downturn, sometimes offering two-for-one specials and free airfare as come-ons. That cut deeply into revenue and profits.

But in recent months, cruise bookings have picked up and prices are slowly strengthening. Perhaps the most definite sign of a brighter outlook is that some lines are starting to order ships again after a 20-month hiatus during the downturn.

``Last year was a year we were saying, `Oh my God, How are we going to fill our ships?''' Gerald R. Cahill, chief executive officer of the Carnival line, told the crowd. ``If the consumer thinks the pricing is going to go down if they wait longer, they've got the wrong story.''

He added: ``Personally, I think we're going to see a lot of growth in North America.''

The cruise industry is set to introduce 26 new ships through 2012. That marks an investment of almost $15 billion and an 18 percent net increase in capacity.

But Carnival's Cahill predicted more moderate growth in new ships ahead, with more emphasis on refurbishing older ships to keep them fresh.

``The growth [in new cruise ships] to 2013 is going to sustain a healthy industry for a very long time,'' added Adam M. Goldstein, president and chief executive officer of Royal Caribbean International, concurring with Cahill's prediction of more moderate growth in cruise fleets.

After the panelists' update, several executives met with the Alaskan governor to discuss Alaska's tax and regulatory issues.

In an interview, Gov. Parnell told The Miami Herald, ``I heard clearly the need for some change to the head tax and the need to have environmental regulation based on good science.'' The governor added: ``I'm going to try to work to reduce costs for the [cruise] industry,'' in a bid to spur the state's economy.

Tourism is Alaska's second-largest industry. The state adopted a $46 per passenger head tax in 2006 following a ballot initiative. A group of cruise lines have filed a lawsuit challenging that tax.

Meanwhile, the ballot initiative also made the state's wastewater discharge standards among the strictest anywhere.

At the Seatrade conference, Holland America's Kruse complained that other industries aren't required to meet the same wastewater treatment standards.

Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/03/17/1532821/signs-of-recovery-and-debate-on.html#ixzz0ip61ykDv

Monday, March 15, 2010

Glacier Melting a Key Clue to Tracking Climate Change

SINGAPORE/ANCHORAGE (Reuters) - The world has become far too hot for the aptly named Exit Glacier in Alaska.

Like many low-altitude glaciers, it's steadily melting, shrinking two miles (3 kilometres) over the past 200 years as it tries to strike a new balance with rising temperatures.

At the Kenai Fjords National Park south of Anchorage, managers have learned to follow the Exit and other glaciers, moving signs and paths to accommodate the ephemeral rivers of blue and white ice as they retreat up deeply carved valleys.

"Some of the stuff is changing fast enough that we now have signs on moving pedestals," said Fritz Klasner, natural resource specialist at Kenai Fjords.

The vast amounts of water stored in glaciers play crucial roles in river flows, hydropower generation and agricultural production, contributing to steady run-off for Ganges, Yangtze, Mekong and Indus rivers in Asia and elsewhere.

But many are melting rapidly, with the pace picking up over the past decade, giving glaciers a central role in the debate over causes and impacts of climate change.

That role has come even more sharply into focus after recent attacks on the U.N.'s climate panel, which included a wrong estimate for the pace of melting for Himalayan glaciers in a major 2007 report.

The report said Himalayan glaciers could all melt by 2035, an apparent typographical error that stemmed from using literature not published in a scientific journal. Climate sceptics seized on the error and used it to question the panel's findings on climate change.

The evidence for rapid glacial melting, though, is overwhelming.

The problem is no one knows exactly what's occurring in the more remote Himalayas and parts of the Andes. Far better measurements are crucial to really understand the threat to millions of people downstream.

"There is no serious information on the state of the melting of the glaciers in the Himalayan-Tibetan complex," Kurt Lambeck, President of the Australian Academy of Science, told a climate science media briefing in late February.

The high altitude and remoteness of many glaciers in the Himalayas and Andes is the main reason.


To try to fill the gap, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said last month the government would establish a National Institute of Himalayan Glaciology in Dehra Dun in the north.

In Europe and North America, glaciers are generally more accessible and there are more trained people to study them.

Switzerland's Aletsch glacier, the largest in the Alps, has been retreating for about 150 years.

But the glacier, which feeds the River Rhone, still stores an estimated 27 billion tonnes of ice, according to www.swissinfo.ch. That's about 12 million Olympic-sized swimming pools.

In 2008, a total of 79 Swiss glaciers were in retreat, while 5 were advancing, the Swiss Glacier Monitoring network says.

"There are a very small number of glaciers that are monitored," said veteran glaciologist Ian Allison, pointing to less than 100 globally for which there are regular "mass-balance" measurements that reflect how much a glacier grows or shrinks from one year to the next.

Such measurements are the benchmark and several decades of data is regarded as the best way to build up an accurate picture of what's happening to a glacier.

Glaciers originate on land and represent a sizeable accumulation of snow and ice over the years. They tend to carve their way through valleys as more and more ice accumulates until the point where more is lost through melting than is gained.


"We probably know less about the total volume of glaciers than we do about how much ice there is in the big ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctic because a lot of it is in small mass areas and a lot of it is inaccessible," said Allison, leader of the Australian Antarctic Division's ice, ocean, atmosphere and climate programme.

The World Glacier Monitoring Service in Switzerland analyses mass balance data for just over 90 glaciers and says their average mass balance continues to decrease.

Since 1980, cumulative thickness loss of the reference glacier group is about 12 metres of water equivalent, it says in its latest 2007/08 report.

Estimates vary but glaciers and mountain caps could contribute about 70 cm (2.3 feet) to global sea levels, a 2009 report authored by Allison and other leading scientists says.

The "Copenhagen Diagnosis" report from the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of New South Wales says there is widespread evidence of more rapid melting of glaciers and ice-caps since the mid-1990s.

That means run-off from melting glaciers and ice-caps is raising sea levels by 1.2 millimetres a year, translating to up to 55 cm (1.8 feet) by 2100 if global warming accelerates.

In Nepal, the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development says "mass-balance" measurements would provide direct and immediate evidence of glacier volume increase or decrease.

"But there are still no systematic measurements of glacial mass balance in the region although there are promising signs that this is changing," the centre said in a recent notice.

It said that based on studies, the majority of glaciers in the region are in a general condition of retreat.


Wind Farm in Cook Inlet


Energy alternatives outlined for Alaska legislators

The Anchorage Daily News

JUNEAU — With some legislators fuming over the pace of in-state gas development and broadly supporting energy diversification, a special House committee summoned the promoters of six large Railbelt projects last week to explain themselves and whether they should be subsidized with public funds.

One of the projects -- a wind farm already under construction by Cook Inlet Region Inc. on Fire Island -- is poised to change Anchorage's view to the west and the approach to the city's international airport. The Anchorage Native corporation, owner of the island, plans to prepare sites for 36 wind turbines this summer and have the project in operation by the end of 2011.

Ethan Schutt, a senior vice president at CIRI, told the House Special Committee on Energy that the wind farm is projected to generate as much as 54 megawatts of power. That's enough electricity for about 18,000 homes and a little bit more than the capacity of the natural gas turbines at Chugach Electric Association's International Airport Road power plant in Anchorage, a relatively inefficient 1960s facility now used mainly for backup.

Three other proposed projects, all in early stages of development with no guarantees they will become operational, are near the flanks of Mount Spurr, the active volcano 75 miles west of Anchorage:

• Ormat Technologies Inc. of Reno, Nev., wants to tap directly into the volcano, drawing heat from water brought to the surface and converting it to electricity in on-site turbines. It would generate 50 to 100 megawatts.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

2 more cruise ships to be pulled from Alaska waters in 2011


is this real life?

Jules' Undersea Lodge has been featured on "Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous", in "Sports Illustrated Swim Suit Issue", in countless magazines and newspapers, and on every major television network in the world.

For the first time in history an authentic underwater research habitat is open to the average person--sport divers and even those who have never before dived. And although Jules' still functions as a research lab, you will be pleased to know that it has air-conditioning, hot showers, stereo music, VCR/DVD, a fully stocked galley, and unlimited diving for certified divers!

Visit Innerspace and experience what was once only a dream of science fiction writers: living within the sea! In fact, Jules' Undersea Lodge is named after Jules Verne, and our goal is to be sure that Mr. Verne would be proud.

go on...


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Governor: Alaska exports total $3.3 billion, down 8.1 percent from 2008

Governor: Alaska exports total $3.3 billion, down 8.1 percent from 2008

By Sean Manget
Alaska Journal of Commerce

Alaska exports totaled $3.3 billion in 2009, marking the fifth best year for trade in state history, said a press release from Gov. Sean Parnell's office.

Things didn't look so positive for exports at the beginning of last year, as first quarter exports were down nearly 30 percent from the first quarter of 2008, the release said.

Fourth-quarter results faired far better; exports went up 12.3 percent from a year earlier.

"Alaskans work hard every day to harvest our resources and produce our exports," Parnell said in the release. "I'm emphasizing improvements in education, workforce development and transportation infrastructure, and that should prepare us to compete and succeed in international opportunities in the future."

Even so, Alaska still lagged behind the previous year overall, with an 8.1 percent decrease in exports from 2008 to 2009, the press release said.

Nationally, exports declined 17.9 percent, with 46 other states posting greater decreases in export value than Alaska.

While seafood and energy exports declined in that period, minerals, precious metals and forest products all saw increased export values.

The state's zinc and lead ore exports increased by 33.5 percent from the 2008 value, coming to $784.7 million. Red Dog mine is the world's largest zinc mine, and accounts for more than three-fourths of all U.S. zinc and lead ore exports, the release said. Korea, Canada, Spain, Japan, China, Italy, Finland, Belgium, Australia and Germany all imported Alaska ore.

Precious metal exports went up 6 percent to $152.6 million. Some $146.6 million of gold went to Switzerland, and $5.1 million of gold went to Canada.

Exports of coal went up 42.8 percent to $33.1 million, and liquefied natural gas accounted for $256.7 million. Liquefied natural gas has been shipped to Japan on a regular basis for more than 40 years, the release said. Pacific Rim countries are key markets for Alaska's energy exports, according to the release.

Refined petroleum product exports fell 70 percent to $38.4 million, a figure the release blames on the international economic crisis. Reduced jet fuel demand as a result of scaled-back flights between Anchorage and Asia left the market for refined petroleum in the tank.

Forest products saw an export increase of 5.5 percent to $87.8 million. Seafood exports fell 9.8 percent to $1.6 billion.

Parnell's office drew these numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau. According to the release, the numbers don't account for Alaska resources transported to and warehoused in other U.S. states before export.

Friday, March 12, 2010

BBC: Cruise ship squeezes down river

Video of a cruise ship squeezing down a narrow river in Germany.


Beluga Whales

Beluga Whales of Alaska's Cook Inlet Listed as Endangered

Posted on October 17, 2008 | 0 Comments

Beluga whales in the Cook Inlet in Alaska have been listed as an endangered species, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced today.

"In spite of protections already in place, Cook Inlet beluga whales are not recovering," said James Balsiger, acting assistant administrator for NOAA's Fisheries Service.

Photo courtesy NOAA

The beluga whale (Delphinapterus leucas), also known as the white whale, is related to the narwhal. Cook Inlet belugas are one of five populations of belugas recognized within U.S. waters. Other belugas inhabit Bristol Bay, the eastern Bering Sea, the eastern Chukchi Sea, and the Beaufort Sea. Canada also has beluga populations.


Beluga whale range in Alaska waters map courtesy NOAA

The Cook Inlet belugas are considered to be the most isolated of the five populations in Alaska, based on genetic differentiation and geographic distance between them and the other four populations. Beluga-Whale-Abundance-Chart.jpg

Chart courtesy NOAA

Cook Inlet beluga numbers nearly halved between 1994 and 1998, based on annual scientific surveys. NOAA estimated the Cook Inlet beluga population at 375 for both 2007 and 2008.

"The recovery of the Cook Inlet whales is potentially hindered by strandings; continued development within and along upper Cook Inlet and the cumulative effects on important beluga habitat; oil and gas exploration, development, and production; industrial activities that discharge or accidentally spill pollutants; disease; and predation by killer whales," NOAA said in a written statement announcing the listing of the whale as an endangered species. 



Scientists tagging a beluga whale in Cook Inlet near Anchorage. The whales can sometimes be seen from Anchorage, Alaska's largest city.

Photo courtesy NOAA

In 2000, NOAA declared the Cook Inlet beluga population depleted under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.


Between 1999 and 2006, Alaska Native hunters took a total of five Cook Inlet beluga whales for subsistence. No beluga whales were harvested in 2007 or 2008. Despite these restrictions on Alaskan Native subsistence harvest of Cook Inlet belugas, the population has not recovered.

The agency proposed in 2007 that Cook Inlet beluga whales be listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Today's announcement is the result of NOAA's scientific review of the proposal.

Aerial photo of Beluga pod courtesy NOAA

Listing the Cook Inlet beluga whales as endangered means any federal agency that funds, authorizes, or carries out new projects or activities that may affect the whales in the area must first consult with NOAA's Fisheries Service to determine the potential effects on the whales. A federal action must not jeopardize the continued existence of a listed species.


Areas used by Cook Inlet belugas chart courtesy NOAA

The New York Times reports that the Alaska administration of Governor Sarah Palin, Republican nominee for Vice President in next month's U.S. Presidential election, opposed the beluga listing in part because of its potential to restrict coastal and offshore oil and gas development.

The beluga listing could also affect other projects, including the expansion of the port of Anchorage and a proposed bridge that would connect Anchorage to the Matanuska-Susitna Valley and Ms. Palin's hometown, Wasilla, the Times said.

"I am especially concerned," the newspaper reported the governor said in a written statement in August 2007, when her administration submitted documents to fight the listing, "that an unnecessary federal listing and designation of critical habitat would do serious long-term damage to the vibrant economy of the Cook Inlet area."

The Los Angeles Times reports Brendan Cummings of the Center for Biological Diversity, a conservation group that supported the petition for the beluga listing, saying that the proposed bridge "is perhaps the single biggest threat to the beluga as it would block a key feeding area, not to mention the noise from pile driving and the risk of spills from the bridge."


NOAA divided Cook Inlet into three regions based upon patterns of beluga habitat use, shown in the agency's map above. Type 1 habitat includes habitats with documented intensive beluga use from spring through fall, and which are important feeding and nursery habitats -- clearly the most valuable of the three types based on the frequency of use by Cook Inlet belugas. Type 1 habitat also includes the waters around Anchorage.

Type 2 habitat is based on less concentrated spring and summer beluga use, and known fall and winter use areas.

Type 3 habitat encompasses the remaining portions of Cook Inlet.

NOAA said it will identify habitat essential to the conservation of Cook Inlet belugas in a separate rule-making within a year.



Port of Anchorage GIS Data

GIS Data converted to Contour Lines at 5' vertical intervals in DWG Format. PDF shows relationship of contours to road map. (Right click, Save Link As). This data comes from the USGS National Map and is measured at one pixel per every one arc-second (which at this latitude, is probably within about 3 meters or so)



how cruise ships work


How Cruise Ships Work

by Josh Briggs

Introduction to How Cruise Ships Work

Titanic Image Gallery

Getty Images
The QE2 (Queen Elizabeth II) liner moored alongside Southampton's Ocean terminal. See pictures of the Titanic, the most infamous cruise ship.

In 1933, two struggling British shipping companies treaded water as the Great Depression sunk hundreds of businesses. Cunard and White Star Lines merged in 1934 and currently operate under the Cunard name, sailingcruise ships you've pr­obably heard of, like the Titanic and the Queen Elizabeth 2, or the QE2, and popularizing the idea of luxury travel by sea.

Unlike the more common cruise ships that ferry people from port to port in the Caribbean, the Mediterranean and some many other corners of the world (including Antartica), these old-school ocean liners still offer that original voyage that so many people signed up for: trans-Atlantic sea passage. Launched in 1967, the QE2, the largest and most extravagant ocean liner of its time built at a cost of $29 million, has made more than 800 trans-Atlantic voyages and logged more than 5.5 million nautical miles [source: BBC, Cunard].

For nearly half a century, the QE2 ruled the open waters as a reminder of an era gone past -- when people sailed instead of flew, when they packed steamer trunks instead of wheeled suitcases. But times have changed, and even great ships have a lifespan. The QE2, which docks in New York Harbor, sets sail one last time in fall 2008. The Dubai government has purchased the historic vessel for $100 million and plans to turn it into a fancy hotel. While the QE2 is sailing into the sunset, she has plenty of friends that plan to stick around and take advantage of the lucrative cruise industry.

As you are soon to learn, cruise ships like the QE2 are floating resorts full of activities and fine dining. This article will explore the history, mechanics and inner workings of cruise ships, as well as how these giants manage to stay afloat. You'll also hear some cruise ship criticism. So grab your boarding pass and let's set sail through the world of cruise ships.

History of Cruise Ships

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The Oceanic, the largest liner in the world when it was built by White Star Lines and launched in 1899, became beached in Scotland due to poor navigation.

Everyone likes to go on vacation, right? Well, during the latter part of the 19th century, the world developed an appetite for travel. Trave­ling by sea was nothing ne­w, but it wasn't exactly speedy. Thomas Newcomen changed that in 1712 when he invented the steam engine, a revolutionary way to harness kinetic energy and convert it to power.

As the steam engine evolved, so did its uses, until in 1819 the first American ship aided by a steam engine crossed the Atlantic. The S.S. Savannah left from the U.S. city bearing its name on May 22, 1819, and arrived in Liverpool, England, 29 days later. While the Savannah only used its steam engine for approximately 85 hours (roughly 12 percent of the trip), the voyage made history, and the era of the steamship began [source: Columbia Encyclopedia].

The passenger ship industry flourished in the late 1800s and early 1900s, courtesy of the steam engine and of the growing number of American immigrants crowding ocean liners. Trans-Atlantic passage was still primarily one way, although affluent passengers traveled back and forth between England and New York for business or holiday.

The Big Sister That Never Would
The Britannic was the lesser known, but largest and most extravagant, of the three Olympic Class ocean liners built by White Star for trans-Atlantic voyages. However, just months after its completion, the British government enlisted the liner for use as a hospital ship during World War I. The British government retrofitted the liner for its new role in the war effort -- ferrying wounded from Italy to England -- and sent it on its maiden voyage on Dec. 23, 1915, without any of the fanfare the Titanic enjoyed. Less than a year later, HMHS Britannic struck a mine and began sinking at the bow. In just 55 minutes, faster than the sinking of the Titanic, the Britannic sank in the Mediterranean. Of the more than 1,000 people onboard, 30 people died. It remains the largest sunken ocean liner, having never carried a paying passenger. [source: PBS]

Ambitious British shipping company White Star Lines began aggressively building the first fleet of ocean liners in 1849 and would revolutionize trans-Atlantic passage over the next 60 years. White Star set records in size and grandeur, building, among others, three large ships dubbed Olympic Class liners. The Olympic, Britannic and Titanic broke the mold of traditional ocean liners, and their speed and interior features made other ships look obsolete. But ocean travel was on the verge of changing.

The popularity of trans-Atlantic sea passage gradually declined with the arrival of the airplane. People could fly to more destinations in a fraction of the time it took on an ocean liner, so shipping companies changed their business model to focus on tourism instead of passenger transportation. In 1900, the American-Hamburg Company built the first ship specifically designed for cruises. The Prinzessin Victoria Luise measured 406 feet (124 meters) long by 52 feet (16 meters) wide, and was 4,409 gross tons [source: Norway-Heritage]. (In nautical terms a ton, typically called a gross register ton or gross ton, does not measure weight; it represents 100 cubic feet of internal capacity.)

During the early 1930s, Nazi leader Adolf Hitler boosted the fledgling cruise industry by offering holiday packages to German workers as part of a state-sponsored effort to unite the nation. Hitler eventually commissioned several new ships for service, making the Nazi Party early pioneers of the cruise ship industry.

Since the early days, cruise ships have shared one universal goal: Don't sink! Learn how they try to avoid that fate on the next page.

How Cruise Ships Float

In order for ships to journey across the open sea, they must withstand the tremendous burden, or weight of the ship, along with the crew, luggage, supplies and passengers. They do that with a little help from the principles of density and buoyancy. Cruise ships can weigh upwards of 71,500 tons (65,000 tonnes). They displace the equivalent amount of water when they press down on the ocean, which meanwhile pushes up and keeps the ship afloat, or buoyant.

That's why when engineers talk about how heavy a ship is, you'll hear them talk about displacement instead of weight. To keep from sinking, the cruise ship has to displace its weight in water before it's submerged. That's a lot easier to do if the cruise ship is constructed in a way so that it's less dense than the water below it. Think of it as the difference between dropping a bowling ball in the water and trying to submerge a beach ball. The bowling ball can't displace enough water before it's submerged, so it sinks. The beach ball does the opposite and floats.

Engineers help ships to achieve buoyancy by choosing lightweight, sturdy materials and dispersing the weight of the ship across the hull. The hull, or body of the ship below the main deck, is typically very wide and has a deep base line, or bottom. Large ships such as freighters, naval vessels and transport and cruise ships commonly utilize displacement hulls, or hulls that push water out of the way, to stay afloat.

A round-bottom displacement hull looks like a large rectangle with rounded edges to dissipate drag, or the force exerted against a moving object. The rounded edges minimize the force of the water against the hull, allowing large, heavy ships to move smoothly along. If you somehow hoisted a cruise ship out of the water and looked at it standing a few hundred feet away, the hull would look like a huge capital letter "U," depending on the size of the keel. The keel runs from the bow to the stern and acts as the backbone of the ship.

U-shaped hull of the Queen Elizabeth
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The massive U-shaped hull of the Cunard liner Queen Elizabeth as she undergoes her annual overhaul

Like just about everything in our lives, round-bottom displacement hulls have advantages and disadvantages. Unlike a boat with a v-hull, which rises out of the water and s­kirts the waves, round-bottom hulls move through the water, making them extremely stable and seaworthy. Passengers on these ships rarely feel any rocking or side-to-side movement.

Ships with round-bottom hulls move fluidly, but the resistance of the water makes them extremely slow. They can only go so fast before the addition of more engine power reaches a point of diminishing returns. Nevertheless, the need for stability and a smooth ride outweigh overall speed, thus making the round-bottom displacement hull a good fit for cruise ships.

The hull serves not only as stability but also as protection. Reefs, sandbars and icebergs can tear apart fiberglass, composite materials and even steel. To prevent catastrophic damage, shipbuilders typically construct cruise ships using extra-strength steel and insert double hulls as an extra precaution. A double-hull design is a hull within a hull, like a tire with an inner tube.

Unfortunately, accidents do happen. In order to prevent cruise ships from sinking should something penetrate the first two lines of defense, vertical watertight dividers known as bulkheads are installed throughout the interior of the hull. These dividers keep damaged ships afloat by containing incoming water into a compartment or compartments, thereby preventing the whole ship from flooding.

Now that we've learned how these massive ships float, let's look at the various propulsion systems that propel them from port to port.

How Cruise Ships Move

Without a source of power, these mammoth cruise ships would be nothing more than hotels drifting aimlessly. So what are the options? Many older cruise ships use reciprocating diesel engines to generate power for propulsion. The power of the engine is fed through a transmission to propeller shafts. Transmissions determine the revolutions of the propellers, much like the transmission transfers the engine RPM into manageable speeds to power the rear wheels in our cars. Modern cruise ships use either gas turbine or diesel electric engines as their power source for propulsion, as well as for the ship's systems. The larger the cruise ship, the greater the demand for electrical power. Some larger ships rely on two different power sources: one for propulsion and one exclusively for electrical power.

ship propellers
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The propellers on this superliner are easy to spot while this boat is dry-docked.

Aero derivative gas turbine engines generate heat that is converted from mechanical energy into electrical power. To achieve this, compressed air is ignited in a combustion chamber. The hot exhaust is forced over a turbine that spins to mechanically drive a shaft. This power can then be used to spin electrical generators. Diesel-electric engines work much the same way, yet use a direct drive system rather than a turbine. Output shafts are connected to electrical generators to produce electrical power.

Both engine types require fuel, and lots of it. For example, the QE2 consumes about 380 tons of fuel daily if it's traveling at a speed of 28.5 knots and carries enough fuel to sail nonstop for 12 days [source: Warwick]. Cruise ships usually fill up at various ports, using fueling barges like floating gas stations. They use a lower-grade diesel that tends not to burn as cleanly as road-going diesel-powered vehicles. No doubt when prices rise at the pump, cruise ships also feel the pinch.

All cruise ships rely on propellers to push them through water. Propellers, commonly referred to as screws, cut through the water and provide forward or reverse motion. Unlike airplanes, which require tremendous propeller speeds to provide the forward motion needed for flight, cruise ship propellers do not need to turn as fast. They rely on torque, or brute power, over RPM, or high speed. Therefore, cruise ships travel slowly, rarely topping 30 knots.

Newer, cutting-edge cruise ships, like the QM2, use azimuth thrusters, which are pods housing propellers that can rotate 360 degrees and provide optimum maneuverability. These thrusters replace rudders and are thought to have several benefits over conventional screw-type propeller systems, such as decreased stopping distance and greater fuel efficiency [source: AP]. They can be used with either gas turbine or diesel electric engines.

If the Titanic had been equipped with azimuth thrusters, things might have turned out differently. One of the Titanic's downfalls was its inability to turn quickly to avoid the iceberg that ripped the bow open. Traditionally, cruise ships rely on rudders and differentiating propeller speed to turn, but ships equipped with azimuth thrusters turn much more quickly, so more cruise ships are incorporating this technology.

Inside a Cruise Ship: Amenities and Jobs

­cruise ship diagram

Cruise ships are designed with serio­us comfort in mind, so they have a lot of amenitie­s and a lot of staff to oversee those amenities for the as many as 3,000 passengers. These thousands of passengers are spread out over the ship's multiple levels called decks. For instance, the QM2 has 13 separate decks and carries up to 3,056 passengers and a crew of 1,253. If you're on deck 13, you would be standing on the highest level of the ship, whereas if you ventured down to the first deck, you'd be closer to the bowels of the ship.

If you booked passage on the QM2, you would likely find yourself staying in one of the Britannia staterooms (or cabins) located in the middle decks. The smallest of these rooms (typically 155 square feet to 250 square feet) contain a king-size bed, closet, television, a phone and a desk. Go with money to blow, and you could find yourself rubbing elbows with the other high rollers on a separate deck where the deluxe apartments and suites are. One of these rooms can be as big as 2,250 square feet. That's as large as a four-bedroom house. Whatever you need -- whether it's an Xbox or a bottle of bubbly -- these are the accommodations where you'll get it fast.

After a good night's sleep, you would probably head to the upper decks to eat breakfast, choosing from one of the many restaurants. Rather than returning to your stateroom after breakfast, you might hang poolside, shoot some hoops, shop, check out the golf simulator or gamble. Of course, you could always venture off the ship if you're at a port of call.

After a packed day, nightfall brings with it more food. You may want to try a formal restaurant or grab something quick at one of the grills. With dinner done, the nightlife begins. If you're in the mood for the opera, you'll need to book a reservation at the Royal Court Theatre. Perhaps you just want to hang out, have a few drinks and dance at the Q32 Nightclub.

Wherever you are on the cruise ship and whatever you're doing, it's likely that a crew member isn't too far away since cruise ships employ very large crews, well over 1,000 people. Here's a list of some of the more nautically inclined crew members and some of their responsibilities.

  • Captain - Highest-ranking official on board. Responsibilities include navigation, crew management and executive decision-making. This is the person you'll want to dress up for if you're invited to dine at the captain's table.
  • Chief Officer - Responsible for training seamen and maintaining the ship
  • Chief Medical Officer - A medical doctor who can perform surgery and supervise all medical operations
  • Staff Captain - Also known as the executive officer and the captain's right-hand man
  • Chief Engineer - Oversees the mechanical aspects of the ship and its engines
  • Chief Radio Officer - Handles all communication, radar and weather systems

In addition, some­ of the staff focuses less on how the boat is running and more on how you're enjoying yourself. Since cruise ships truly are hotels on the sea, some of the folks you may encounter include bartenders, plumbers, electricians and ushers. Working on a cruise ship can be rewarding and financially appealing. Employees can earn up to five times what they might make on land, depending on which ship and company they work for.

But not everything is fun and games when you're sailing along with thousands of strangers over the open seas. The next section points out some of the drawbacks of cruise ships.

Cruise Ship Criticism

Monterey, California coastline
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The Monterey, Calif., coastline. Monterey banned the cruise ship Crystal Harmony from the area after it discharged 35,000 gallons of wastewater into the area's marine sanctuary.

A floating resort packed with thousands of tourists and staff is bound to run into some trouble. The cruise industry has drawn the ire of many public health and enviro­nmental critics, not to mention law enforcement and legislators. Let's start with the environmental criticism first.

As you may expect, cruise ships generate several forms of pollution as they lumber through the seas.

  • Black water: Wastewater comprising human waste.
  • Gray water: Wastewater that comes from showers, dishwashers, sinks and other cleaning activities onboard a ship.
  • Bilge water: Water from the ship's bilge tank that contains engine oil and sludge.
  • Solid waste: Trash consisting of plastic and metal containers, usually ends up as incinerated ashes.
  • Hazardous waste: Cleaning chemicals, paints, solvents and dry cleaning chemicals that find their way into the gray water source or the bilge tank.

[source: Herz, IICRC]

An average cruise ship creates an estimated 90,000 gallons to 255,000 gallons (340,687 liters to 965,280 liters) of gray water, 30,000 gallons (113,562 liters) of black water and 37,000 gallons (140,060 liters) of bilge water daily [source: Herz]. Loose environmental requirements allow cruise ships to dump everything overboard except untreated and solid waste. Bilge water, gray water, as well as treated sewage and incinerated solid waste can be, and regularly is, dumped directly into the sea, so long as it is not within 3 miles (4.8 km) of the shore.

Ballast water taken on to stabilize the ship can also disrupt ecosystems. Ships inevitably fill their ballast tanks in one location and purge them in a different area, thus introducing new species of marine organisms into different environments. Much like kudzu when it was introduced to the U.S., foreign microorganisms can infect or kill native plankton, sea plants, coral and fish.

From a public health perspective, disease outbreaks on ships are also a concern. Most of the major cruise lines -- Carnival Cruise Lines, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruises and Princess Cruises among others -- have ­reported outbreaks, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The organism responsible for getting passengers sick usually is the norovirus, a common virus linked to gastroenteritis (the "stomach flu"). Norovirus infections spread quickly on a cruise ship due to the close quarters. To see the cruise ship inspections for a particular ship, visit the CDC Vessel Sanitation program Web site, which posts inspection reports.

Probably one of the most frustrating aspects of traveling on a cruise ship is the lawlessness. Several critics point out that cruise companies are more concerned with protecting themselves from liability. Cruise companies are hesitant to have legitimate security forces onboard ships for fear of lawsuits from the public.

Overcrowding also has become a deterrent for people taking cruises, especially as companies like Royal Caribbean, Cunard and Carnival push the limits of occupancy. Lines to participate in the onboard attractions keep growing as ships like the Genesis hit the water. Slated to arrive sometime in 2009, the Genesis, with a price tag of $1.4 billion, will be 1,180 feet (360 meters) long and will accommodate 5,400 passengers at double occupancy [source: AP]. These mobs of passengers can also overwhelm a port call destination. But cruise ship companies show no signs of stopping their quest to build the biggest ship.