Back to Table of contents

Primeur weekly 2017-07-31

Focus

ECMWF at the heart of weather and climate modelling as global challenge of societal relevance with game changing prediction capability through exascale ...

NVIDIA hits the top 10 in the TOP500 and Green500 lists with multi-tasking GPUs - NVIDIA Vice President Ian Buck explains ...

Exascale supercomputing

Oak Ridge National Laboratory acquires D-Wave 2000Q Cloud services to accelerate hybrid computing applications ...

Crowd computing

Dark ecology project will use past weather radar data to trace bird migrations ...

Quantum computing

Tiny dancer atoms could prove a hit with quantum computer scientists ...

Qubitekk licenses ORNL single-photon source approach for quantum encryption ...

Ultracold molecules hold promise for quantum computing ...

University of Sydney and Microsoft forge global quantum computing partnership ...

Focus on Europe

Prof. Jan de Boer joins Board of Directors at Netherlands eScience Center ...

Hardware

Cray to expand storage portfolio through strategic transaction and partnership with Seagate ...

Stampede2 storms out of the Corral in support of U.S. scientists ...

Nick Nystrom appointed Interim Director of PSC ...

CSIRO has chosen Dell EMC to build a new scientific computing capability, kicking off a new generation of research ...

One Stop Systems named one of San Diego's fastest growing companies ...

Applications

High risk of unprecedented rainfall in the United Kingdom simulated by Met Office supercomputer ...

NIH awards $9.3 million for further development of PHENIX structural biology software ...

Inaugural Collaborative Science Call yields six proposals melding genomics and supercomputing ...

Stampede supercomputer skyrocketed science ...

IBM combines All-Flash and storage software optimized for Hortonworks ...

PPPL researchers perform first basic-physics simulation of the impact of recycled atoms on plasma turbulence ...

Catch of the day: A net full of trees ...

Liquid electrolyte contacts for advanced characterization of resistive switching memories ...

Dark ecology project will use past weather radar data to trace bird migrations


A national radar mosaic showing heavy bird migration throughout the Midwestern United States on the night of May 2, 2015. Streamlines show simulated bird trajectories based on radar measurements of migration. A team of researchers led by computer scientist Daniel Sheldon plan to develop new analytic methods with data collected over the past 20 years to provide powerful new tools for tracking bird migration. Credit: UMass Amherst.
27 Jul 2017 Amherst - Every spring and fall, billions of birds migrate across the United States, largely unseen under the cover of darkness. Now a team of researchers led by computer scientist Daniel Sheldon at the University of Massachusetts Amherst plan to develop new analytic methods with data collected over the past 20 years - more than 200 million archived radar scans from the national weather radar network - to provide powerful new tools for tracking migration.

Daniel Sheldon stated: "The Dark Ecology Project will develop new resources allowing us to estimate the densities of migrating birds over the U.S. each year for the last 25 years." His collaboration with computer vision expert Subhransu Maji at UMass Amherst and Steven Kelling, director of information science at the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, is supported by a three-year, $903,300 National Science Foundation grant to UMass Amherst and $309,000 to Cornell.

Daniel Sheldon has collaborated with scientists at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology since 2009, when he was a Ph.D. student at Cornell. Steven Kelling's information science team developed eBird, a citizen science project that collects observations from birdwatchers across the globe. The researchers use Big Data methods to piece together eBird observations to reveal complex patterns of bird occurrence and to guide international bird conservation efforts such as the 2016 State of North America's Birds report. Subhransu Maji's group has developed computer vision techniques for fine-grained categorization, which are already helping citizens connect with nature by automatically recognizing species of birds, animals, and other organisms in photographs.

A long-term vision for the new grant, Daniel Sheldon explained, is to combine these new data resources to provide a detailed continent-wide view of bird migration. He stated: "eBird data can tell us about bird distributions and which species are present at different locations and times of year, while radar data can tell us how birds are moving over the continent throughout the year."

They chose to name the project 'Dark Ecology' to allude to dark matter in the universe and the idea that "a lot of the science waiting to be discovered is hidden from our direct view", he added.

Ornithologists, scientists who study birds, have known for decades that the U.S. weather radar network is sensitive enough to detect birds flying at night, and some researchers have used the data for studies. But such research has been limited because of the difficulties involved.

Daniel Sheldon explained that not only has it not been easy to gain access and download data, but "there are millions of images, and analyzing them requires a human expert to look at every image in order to use the information in a study. Because of the human processing involved, it's a very slow process and it's been beyond the scope of what most people can do". He and colleagues propose to automate the process by developing new Big Data handling techniques.

Access to the radar scans was enhanced in 2015, when Amazon Web Services reached a research agreement with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to increase the amount of NOAA data that is made available via the Cloud. This made NEXRAD data accessible at a much lower cost.

To build on this open access, Daniel Sheldon and Subhransu Maji will use machine learning, computer vision and probabilistic inference techniques to teach computers to take over analyses that used to require human manual labour. One key will be to design algorithms to screen out rain, Daniel Sheldon said. "Recent advances in machine learning and computer vision will let us teach the computer how to identify rain, birds, insects, location of bird roosts and other biological phenomena of interest to ecologists."

"We also plan to develop algorithms to extract more information from the radar data", he added. "Current methods produce point-based estimates of migration at a particular station because they don't know how to deal with gaps in radar coverage. This means they throw out a huge amount of data that does exist between stations. We would like to develop machine learning algorithms to infer what is happening in the gaps to produce spatially detailed maps of migration density."

The scientists plan to make the resulting dataset freely available as an information resource for researchers to estimate the number of birds migrating on any given night, measure the patterns and trends of bird populations, and do hypothesis-driven science. "One big goal is to analyze the entire archive to measure density and velocity of migrating birds and make the resulting data available to any scientists who can use it."
Source: University of Massachusetts at Amherst

Back to Table of contents

Primeur weekly 2017-07-31

Focus

ECMWF at the heart of weather and climate modelling as global challenge of societal relevance with game changing prediction capability through exascale ...

NVIDIA hits the top 10 in the TOP500 and Green500 lists with multi-tasking GPUs - NVIDIA Vice President Ian Buck explains ...

Exascale supercomputing

Oak Ridge National Laboratory acquires D-Wave 2000Q Cloud services to accelerate hybrid computing applications ...

Crowd computing

Dark ecology project will use past weather radar data to trace bird migrations ...

Quantum computing

Tiny dancer atoms could prove a hit with quantum computer scientists ...

Qubitekk licenses ORNL single-photon source approach for quantum encryption ...

Ultracold molecules hold promise for quantum computing ...

University of Sydney and Microsoft forge global quantum computing partnership ...

Focus on Europe

Prof. Jan de Boer joins Board of Directors at Netherlands eScience Center ...

Hardware

Cray to expand storage portfolio through strategic transaction and partnership with Seagate ...

Stampede2 storms out of the Corral in support of U.S. scientists ...

Nick Nystrom appointed Interim Director of PSC ...

CSIRO has chosen Dell EMC to build a new scientific computing capability, kicking off a new generation of research ...

One Stop Systems named one of San Diego's fastest growing companies ...

Applications

High risk of unprecedented rainfall in the United Kingdom simulated by Met Office supercomputer ...

NIH awards $9.3 million for further development of PHENIX structural biology software ...

Inaugural Collaborative Science Call yields six proposals melding genomics and supercomputing ...

Stampede supercomputer skyrocketed science ...

IBM combines All-Flash and storage software optimized for Hortonworks ...

PPPL researchers perform first basic-physics simulation of the impact of recycled atoms on plasma turbulence ...

Catch of the day: A net full of trees ...

Liquid electrolyte contacts for advanced characterization of resistive switching memories ...