As eagerness to explore the Arctic’s oil and gas resources grows, the threat of a major Arctic oil spill looms ever larger—and the United States has a lot of work to do to prepare for that inevitability, a panel convened by the National Research Council (NRC) declares in a report released today. The committee, made up of members of academia and industry, recommended beefing up forecasting systems for ocean and ice conditions, infrastructure for supply chains for people and equipment to respond, field research on the behavior of oil in the Arctic environment, and other strategies to prepare for a significant spill in the harsh conditions of the Arctic.The report “identifies the different pieces that need to come together” to have a chance at an effective oil spill response, says Martha Grabowski, a researcher in information systems at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York, and chair of the NRC committee.Even in the absence of oil and gas exploration, the Arctic’s rapidly intensifying traffic—whether from barges, research ships, oil tankers, or passenger cruises—makes oil spills increasingly likely. So “the committee felt some urgency” about the issue, says geologist Mark Myers, vice chancellor for research at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. The report, sponsored by 10 organizations ranging from the American Petroleum Institute to the Marine Mammal Commission, focused primarily on the United States’ territorial waters north of the Bering Strait, including the Chukchi and Beaufort seas.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)Cleaning up oil in the Arctic is particularly tricky for a number of reasons, the committee notes. The extreme weather conditions are one problem. The lack of many kinds of data—high-resolution topography and bathymetry along the coasts; measurements of ice cover and thickness; distributions in space and time of the region’s fish, birds, and marine mammals—is another. And if an emergency happens, there’s no infrastructure in place—no consistent U.S. Coast Guard presence and no reliable supply chains to support a rapid response.On top of that, there is little real-world information about how the Arctic’s own oil (rather than an amalgam from an oil pipeline, as is now tested) will behave in the Arctic’s heavily stratified water column, which could prevent deep spills from reaching the surface. Then there’s the lingering question of how effective chemical dispersants or oil-munching microbes are in the frigid Arctic environment. And virtually nothing is known about how oil and sea ice will interact. “Ice really changes everything,” Myers says. Some oil might make its way into the ice, only to later become liquid again when the ice melts; some might remain trapped beneath it, moving with the ice—or possibly not. “We have very few observations of the under-ice environment,” he says.The report calls for upgrading oil spill response infrastructure, additional studies, and more coordination between agencies, industry, academia, and other Arctic nations. Grabowski also emphasized the need for standardization—of data collection and sharing, of oil spill exercises and responses.Who would coordinate all of this and who would pay for it remain unsettled questions. Grabowski notes that she and her panel members recommend public-private partnerships, interagency coordination, and working with, for example, local communities to develop trained response teams in local villages. “But in terms of an overall framework,” she says, “I think that that is a wide-open question. And obviously connected to that is a resource question. We can identify lots of ideas for a framework but without adequate resources that causes a real difficulty.”Still, amid the flurry of Arctic-related reports that have papered Washington, D.C., in the last few years, the committee hopes its recommendations will stick. By digging “deep into the science,” Myers says, “we felt it was going to be a good authoritative source which people can use to help make decisions.”“This is a study that’s both broad and deep,” Grabowski adds. “In terms of whether anyone picks this up and runs with it—that’s another step.”
Google has unveiled the first prototype of its self-driving vehicle. The vehicle was first revealed in May, but the car Google presented was just a mockup without headlights.“Since then, we’ve been working on different prototypes-of-prototypes, each designed to test different systems of a self-driving car—for example, the typical ‘car’ parts like steering and braking, as well as the ‘self-driving’ parts like the computer and sensors,” Google wrote on its Google+ page. “We’ve now put all those systems together in this fully functional vehicle—our first complete prototype for fully autonomous driving.”Google will be testing the car on its test track throughout the holidays and hopes to get the vehicle on the road in 2015. The company’s safety drivers will continue to manage the car for the time being.Microsoft announces Azure Media Services live streaming with new PlayReady encryptionMicrosoft is beefing up security in its live-streaming cloud services, adding PlayReady encryption to Azure Media Services. PlayReady is an encryption technology to protect both on-demand video technology and live streams. According to a blog post from Azure Media Services program manager Mingfei Yan, PlayReady can work with a combination of other Azure-supported security mechanisms and protocols, including HTTP Live Streaming, Smooth Streaming and MPEG DASH and AES dynamic encryption for live streaming.A full list of PlayReady setup instructions is available in the blog post.Apple’s first automatic security updateApple has rolled out its first automatic security update to help defend against newly discovered bugs, Reuters has reported. The update was pushed out to Mac computers in order to fix a bug affecting the computer’s network time protocol. The company decided to push the update out automatically in order protect customers and minimize possible damage. Apple introduced automatic security updates about two years ago, but this was the first time the company took advantage of the technology.
After a computer error that caused major problems for the Securities and Exchange Commission, Citigroup Global Markets has agreed to pay US$7 million as a penalty.The computer coding error was in the software that Citigroup used from May 1999 to April 2014 to process the SEC’s requests for blue sheet data. This data included the times of trades, types of trades, volume traded, prices, and other important customer information. Citigroup omitted 26,810 securities transactions from its responses to more than 2,300 blue sheet requests during this time period, and once Citigroup discovered the coding error, the company failed to report to the SEC.“Broker-dealers have a core responsibility to promptly provide the SEC with accurate and complete trading data for us to analyze during enforcement investigations,” said Robert A. Cohen, co-chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Market Abuse Unit. “Citigroup did not live up to that responsibility for an inexcusably long period of time, and it must pay the largest penalty to date for blue sheet violations.”In addition to the penalty, Citigroup also will admit wrongdoing to settle the charges.Django REST framework 3.4Thanks to a recent Mozilla Grant, Django REST framework 3.4 has been released, with schema generation, hypermedia support, API clients, and real-time support all included. Django REST framework 3.4 brings built-in support for generating API Schemas, and this support is provided by using a Core API and a document object model for describing APIs. With this release, Django also provides a command-line tool and a Python client library for interacting with APIs. These clients are able to interact with any API that exposes a supported schema format.This release also includes a large amount of pull requests and issues, and a full set of release notes can be found here.EU files complaint against GoogleEuropean Union regulators claim that Google’s search engine skews results in its own favor and unfairly restricts competitor online advertising platforms.The European Commission sent Alphabet two statements of objections, which add to the antitrust complaint over Google’s Android smartphone software that occurred earlier this year. EU regulators said they have “a broad range of additional evidence and data” that Google favors its own comparison-shopping service in its general search results, according to a Bloomberg report.EU investigators use a software tool that checks how Google is actually displaying its results when customers and users search for products online. What they discover will be key evidence, according to Bloomberg.Additionally, the EU is adding complaints on its use of copyrighted content from publishers, and EU regulators are hinting at rules on “legal liability for online platforms like Google,” according to Bloomberg.