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GPS Used To Monitor Continental Drift

simoniker posted more than 11 years ago | from the landmass-geocaching-over-millenia dept.

Science 225

metz2000 writes "BBC News is reporting that a team of scientists from Nottingham (UK) are using GPS to measure sea levels and continental drift. The team has around 50 stations across the UK, and use GPS technology to track miniscule changes in altitude and location. This allows the team to gain an understanding of how the UK landmass is likely to change over the coming centuries. They have discovered that the British Isles are tilting, with the north of the country gaining altitude and the south of the country 'sinking'."

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fp. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6122047)

son of a bitch

Michael's a Jerk is gay. fuck you. you fail it, bitch.

Re:fp. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6122082)

Forget him. Go back to your purple-faggot-delicious gheymes section, Simo Niker!

NIKER!

FUCK YOU NIGGER (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6122138)

Suck my dick and fucking like it, you stupid nigger piece of shit. Stick it in your mouth, nigger. Suck it down. Suck. Suck harder, bitch. Suck it.

FUCK YOU!

I hate niggers.

FUCK YOU!

Motherfuck! Fly bitches when I walk!

Son of a bitch!

FUCK YOU! FUCK THE NIGGERS!

Suck my dick and fucking like it!

NIGGER!

Re:FUCK YOU NIGGER (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6122257)

Hey, yea you... the drunk assface. SHUT THE FUCK UP. Shit, a waste of flesh like you can't even crapflood properly.

TROLLKORE SUCKS GAY DICK (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6122160)

AND SO DO YOU !!

Re:TROLLKORE SUCKS GAY DICK (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6122264)

Hey, yea you... the drunk ass-face. SHUT THE FUCK UP. Shit, a waste of flesh like you can't even crapflood properly.

FAG! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6122181)

FAG!

Re:FAG! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6122272)

Hey, yea you... the drunk ass face. SHUT THE FUCK UP. Shit, a waste of flesh like you can't even crapflood properly.

MMMMMMMMMM (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6122050)

Frist psot!

YOU FAIL IT, NIGGER (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6122063)

Fuck you. You fail it.

Michael's a Jerk is a faggot. He needs to get a fucking life.

Suck my dick and fucking like it. I have a fucking huge penis.

You're a piece of fucking shit. Eat shit and die.

Moderators are gay. So are you.

Re:MMMMMMMMMM (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6122101)

Please do not post redundant comments. They reduce the quality of the discussion. What is so special about indicating that you managed to have the first post?

Besides, you did not even get the first post, even though you were in such a hurry that you have two spelling mistakes.

So please respect the high quality of the Slashdot discussions and do not post any more so called "first posts".

Thank you.

User has been banned.. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6122124)

This IP and subnet have been banned from further posting on Slashdot. This is due to our strict policies about censorship. We must censor all posts that are similar to the parent. It is necessary to increase the quality of discussion. Thank you for your understanding.

-- Michael Sims <michael at slashdot dot org>

Solution? (4, Funny)

ahadley (665625) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122054)

well this should sort the north/south divide and tilt (apollogies for pun) the house price difference to the north.....

just my 2 (euro) cents worth

Alex

Re:Solution? (1)

Kinniken (624803) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122240)

Well, what would be realy interesting is to know if the UK is drifting toward Europe or away from it. Lots of people on the continent would be interested in the answer ;-)

Re:Solution? (2, Insightful)

jeremyp (130771) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122282)

From the article:

"GPS measurements have also allowed scientists to show that the UK is drifting about 2-3 cm each year in a north-easterly direction."

Of course you need to know what the rest of Europe is doing as well. I suspect, if it is on the same techtonic plate as Europe, then Europe is doing the same thing.

Re:Solution? (1)

Hogwash McFly (678207) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122330)

They have discovered that the British Isles are tilting, with the north of the country gaining altitude and the south of the country 'sinking'." London is already overcrowded enough without all of the Northeners rolling downhill towards us!

Personal use (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6122057)

So can I use this to make sure its really an earthquake and not just some fat guy trying to run to the door for a pizza?

Re:Personal use (1, Funny)

pe1rxq (141710) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122070)

No, unless the fat guy is running really slow and you have a strange kind of earthquakes in your part of the world....
They are measuring slow changes, not quick seismic vibrations.

Jeroen

Accuracy (4, Interesting)

ewithrow (409712) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122058)

Considering a lot of GPS receivers have an error of + or - 10 feet or so, I wonder if they are using very precise equipment, or if having the redundancy of many units makes up for the rough estimates GPS satelites give.

Re:Accuracy (4, Interesting)

Wibla (677432) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122066)

They are probably using the military band of the GPS sattelites, which are considerably more precise than ordinary 'civil' GPS.

Re:Accuracy (4, Informative)

asmithumd (638830) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122325)

Back in the late 80's I had some college rooommates who did this for a living. After moderate earthquakes in southern California, groups of geophysics graduate students would be sent to the channel islands off the coast with huge old clunky GPS receivers. They would align the GPS receiver over a benchmark and camp out for 3 days collecting data. Similar groups would do the same thing all over SoCal. Combining the data makes for a super differential GPS data set. As each receiver is at a known location (well sort of, it is what they are there to determine), each has the accuracy of a single diff. GPS receiver. However, what the scientists cared about was not the aboslute positions of the receivers, but their relative positions. As I recall, 0.5cm resoultion was routinely achieved event back then. I'm sure todays systems are automated, and remotely read out. Today's grad students won't have stories about being buzzed by navy jets or herds of ferrel cats.

Re:Accuracy (5, Informative)

d-Orb (551682) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122080)

I guess that they are using differential GPS, by which the time delay at a known location is compared to the time-delay at the location of interest. This enables for very accurate estimation of where you are.

On the other hand, at least in California (where they have a GPS network for earthquake monitoring), the network might well be permanent, hence you can do a nice sort of averaging over time. We have found that even with normal GPS, you get nice accuracies over a time period.

Re:Accuracy (2, Informative)

pe1rxq (141710) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122094)

They are probably not using differential gps as the base stations calculating the difference are on the very landmass they are measuring the movement off....
They probably use a scheme similar to dgps: They don't have to know their exact location, they have to know their exact location in respect to the other measurement points around the country. Which is relativly easy to do.

Jeroen

Re:Accuracy (1, Interesting)

rebeka thomas (673264) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122083)

A GPS system working with satellites only has a limited accuracy. Even military ones aren't accurate enough. Using the same technology with ground based satellite analogs gives the accuracy required.

Re:Accuracy (2, Interesting)

egburr (141740) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122311)

How are you going to use ground-based systems to tell you how far your continent has moved? If you put it on the same continent as the receiver, it will move in perfect relation to the receiver, so the receiver will always show zero movement. If you put it on another continent, does it have the range, especially dealing with earth curvature and line-of-sight issues? It seems to me a satellite system would be much better for this purpose.

Re:Accuracy (1)

mlush (620447) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122095)

Considering a lot of GPS receivers have an error of + or - 10 feet or so, I wonder if they are using very precise equipment, or if having the redundancy of many units makes up for the rough estimates GPS satelites give.

There probably using some form of Differential GPS [oreillynet.com] and taking data over a long baseline. I recall that given a few days worth of data its possible to fix a position to within 2-3cm

Well.. GPS can see this.. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6122173)

GPS can detect when my huge cock gets erect. So if it can detect that, surely it can also detect continents moving by several meters.

It depends (2, Interesting)

k0de (619918) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122222)

GPS accuracy is somewhat consistent among manufacturers, and is generally more accurate the more you pay for the equipment. However, there is always a margin for error. For example, Wilson's GPS Accuracy page [erols.com] states that vertical accuracy depends on "latitude (errors for vertical accuracy rapidly increase with latitudes greater than 65 degrees), receiver/antenna, local geometry/multipath and satellite geometry (VDOP)"

The real question is are the Nottingham group using high grade and control tested equipment and have they properly accounted for discrepency. Stating that Scotland is rising two millimeters a year is quite the claim.

Re:Accuracy (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6122318)

Lots of Earth Scientists around the world are using GPS for precise plate motion measurements. It's all differential processing with respect to global reference frames defined by a number of sites and other space-geodetic methods (like VLBI). Check out the graphs from this page [nasa.gov] for some real numbers. They've been doing this sort of thing for the last 10-20 years now.

Re:Accuracy (3, Informative)

hughk (248126) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122376)

First of all, now that Selective Availability has been disabled, stationary GPS can easily give accuracy down to a couple of metres or better. However, even when SA was enabled, surveyors could always get cm level data out of a GPS simply because they could leave the station sitting and let it average out the passes. If you are building a road, you normally want to fix it down to the cm level, because it is embarrassing when a bridge, for example, doesn't fit. Any major construction project has at least one well known point from which the land survey is based. This point connects the survey coordinate system with a general coordinate system (such as latitude and longitude from WGS84). This used to be done optically but over the last 15 years or so, GPS has been used and has performed well.

For continental drift, they need mm level data. I guess, they just leave the station for a longer time to get even more passes.

Damn... (4, Funny)

nmg196 (184961) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122065)

...you tell me this *after* I've just bought a house in Southampton. Bummer. I knew the must be *one* good reason to live in Scotland...

Nick...

Re:Damn... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6122085)

Don't tell anyone about it though, I don't want my house price to go up or the economy to thrive!

Make me an offer... (1, Funny)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122091)

1/6 Acre house plot, on an island in the north-west of Scotland, in an area that is (hopefully) getting wireless broadband within the next year.

If you can sort out immigration, USians can apply too - avoid your Iron Curtain before it's too late.

Re:Make me an offer... (1)

jocks (56885) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122103)

What island? I don't want to make an offer and discover that I have bought myself a chunk of Rockall [rockalltimes.co.uk] !

Re:Make me an offer... (1)

dylan_- (1661) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122221)

If it's getting wireless broadband I'd assume Lewis, near Stornoway I guess. At least, I'd guess it's not Vatersay. ;)

Re:Damn... tsarkon reports (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6122207)

ç i å¦(TM) i ã i èOE i ä½ i ã i ã i ã i ã i æ i ã i ãs i åf i è i ã-- i 㦠i ã-- i ã¾ i ã i ã i ã© i ã® i å i å¼ i ãf i ã i ãf©ï¼ ä i å¦ i å'¥ i ã i ãY i ã i é i ã i ã i ã i å£ i å... i ãf" i ã i ãf i ãfï¼ ãf i â-- i ãf i ã i ã i ãf¼ i ãf i ãf i ãOE i å i 好 i ã i ã i 好 i è i ç i å i å¥ i ãY i ã i ã® i ç© i æ¥ i ã® i ã-- i ãf i ã i ãS i ãf i ã i ãf i ãff i ã i ã' i æ i å- i ã-- i 㦠i ã i ã i ã i ãï¼ ã© i ã® i å i ã i ã" i ã® i å i ã i ãf i ã i ãf© i äS i æ!

Re:Damn... (1)

Mr_Dyqik (156524) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122210)

All these people moving to the South and out of the North are the real reason why the country is tilting.

Re:Damn... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6122348)

Nope. There are NO good reasons for English people to live in Scotland. We hate you all. Bugger off and sink into the sea.

accurate enough (2, Interesting)

Naikrovek (667) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122067)

I didn't realize that GPS was accurate enough for that...

I think i heard once that there were two types of recievers, one was more error prone, but gave you an updated location every second, the second was very, very accurate, but took over 10 minutes to get a position fix.

can anyone clue me in here?

Re:accurate enough (1)

marko123 (131635) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122109)

IANAGPSE, but Differential GPS is something that allows the resolution of millimetres by subtracting the errors of a reading from one location with the errors of a reading in another two or more locations to increase the accuracy of measurement. Near Adelaide, Australia, they have been doing this to measure the rate that the local mountain range is moving towards the city (i.e. not very quickly, but measurable using this technique.)

They knew what to look for (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6122146)

Ordinarily, GPS isn't accurate enough. In fact, there's a significant margin of error with it. But the scientists doing the readings knew what to look for. When the GPS gave them the readings they wanted, after retrying the experiment three times, they went public with their findings. It's questionable at best. But that's how science works. They knew the results they wanted. And when they got them, they stopped there and claimed victory. Read on to find out why they expected just what it is they found.

The reason for the sinking wasn't stated in the article, but it's well known, already. My huge cock is resting on the southern shore of the island, pushing down on it. Because magma is a thick liquid, solid objects don't sink quickly through it and it doesn't move quickly. Even though my cock is weighing down on the southern end, the north end doesn't go down. In fact, the displaced magma pushing out from the south end is causing the north end to rise, and a slight rise in the sea floor under the English Channel. This has also been observed by use of sonar from British ships in the channel.

This isn't news, but perhaps I could solve it if I could find a position by which I can rest my huge cock on the north end of the UK. It would even out with the north end sinking back down and the south end rising up to previous levels.

It's rather amazing that GPS is sensitive enough to note the changes. The landmass is massive. It's also amazing that a cock could be large enough to move a landmass. But it's happening.

I hope this clears things up.

Re:They knew what to look for (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6122283)

you need help, little man.

Re:accurate enough (1)

rtaylor (70602) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122155)

These are fixed stations. So, if it took 1 hour to make an accurate measurement, that would mean they could take 24 of them a day -- which is more than enough I would think.

It's all about integration time (1)

smcdow (114828) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122199)

Sub-millimeter accuracy can be achieved with very long integration time of GPS data.

Your hand-help GPS reports a fix once a second or so -- so the integration time of the GPS data is approx one second.

If you program your GPS receiver to integrate GPS data over, say 24 hours instead of one second, then you get very high accuracy. Your GPS has to remain perfectly stationary during the integration.

Hand helds don't have an option for setting integration time. You need fancy, expensive receivers for that. Or, you can roll your own, which isn't as hard as it sounds.

Re:It's all about integration time (1)

expro (597113) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122328)

Hand helds don't have an option for setting integration time. You need fancy, expensive receivers for that. Or, you can roll your own, which isn't as hard as it sounds.

How is this different from what every Garmin I have ever used does when you tell it to take time to use averaging to get a more-accurate position, which it does until interrupted?

Re:accurate enough (1)

Lord_Slepnir (585350) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122313)

I'll give you a hint: No one should need to need to measure continental drift every second. They're not moving apart that fast.

what next? (0)

tankdilla (652987) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122069)

Now that they know the country is sinking, do they relocate everyone north for the next century? I imagine it's good to know that the country is sinking, but can they really do anything about it?

Re:what next? (2, Funny)

murple (28187) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122115)

And if they relocate people to the north, will it stop the process?

Population growth and land change (2, Funny)

rebeka thomas (673264) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122071)

I think you can extrapolate this data into a correlation with population. Look at the warnings from the 1970s about halting population growth in California, especially west of the San Andreas Faultline. There were no changes, and then an earthquake strikes.

Now the most populated area of the UK is sinking and the rest rising. If you think about it, it is quite logical. The weight of london alone is billions upon billions of tonnes, the building and auto infrastructure, not to mention several million people.

We are having a much greater effect on the planet than anyone could know.

Re:Population growth and land change (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6122142)

You *are* joking aren't you?

Re:Population growth and land change (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6122167)

I think those warnings came from the same people who were screaming about global cooling and humans causing a new ice age.

Earth calling moderators! (1)

trikberg (621893) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122209)

Who moderated this as Interesting? Please connect brain before moderating. Moderating as Funny I can maybe accept, but Interesting?

The stuff humans account for is miniscule compared to everything else. Think of it in terms of height; human constructions are is in the range of tens of meters, not particularly dense and quite spread out, while the ground below consists of kilometers of rock. It will make no difference whatsoever, at least not by pure weight. Erosion and other effects could be significant.

Re:Population growth and land change (2, Interesting)

Mr_Dyqik (156524) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122226)

I wonder if there might actually be a measurable effect from increased usage of groundwater in heavily populated areas. This kind of thing can cause local subsidance, so I wonder if it can cause a general shift over larger areas.

Re:Population growth and land change (1)

MWelchUK (585458) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122241)

I think that this phenomenon has been put down to global warming.

During the ice age scotland was covered by a _thick_ layer of ice and the weight of this pushed it down, causing the tectonic plate the UK is a part of to tilt. The lost of all this ice over the last few million years has caused the plate to start pivoting back.

This combined with the slowly rising sea level is what has caused this effect.

The weight of the buildings are more than likely negledgable compared to the overall weight of the techtonic plate.

Re:Population growth and land change (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6122268)

Yes, this is called "Isostatic rebound". Think of the crust as being like ice floating on water. Put weight on a small region of the ice and it will sink a bit. Remove the weight and the ice will rise.

Re:Population growth and land change (1)

Murphy(c) (41125) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122260)

At least you are moded as funy, and a funny troll can't be that bad.

I'm guessing (as in extrapolating out of my ass) that the reason north UK is rising is because of the tectonic plate it's sitting on.

If I recall correctly, the Scandinavian plate is slowly rising because the ice cap that covered it during our longer ice ages melted (Ice cap is heavy, and pushed down on the whole plate for a long periode of time). That type of heavy glacier ice cap is called "inlandsis" (well at least in french, don't know the name in english)

So, I'm guessing that the Northern part of the UK tectonic plate might either be doing the same thing, or that friction from the rising Scandinavian plate forces it raise with it.

Murphy(c)

In related news .... (3, Funny)

Surak (18578) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122289)

..some scientists studying the "sinking" effect have noted CowboyNeal's recent move to Southampton.

Re:Population growth and land change (1)

surstrmming (674864) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122294)

Now the most populated area of the UK is sinking and the rest rising. If you think about it, it is quite logical. The weight of london alone is billions upon billions of tonnes, the building and auto infrastructure, not to mention several million people.
Perhaps the the effects of 1 million children jumping on the Giant Jump [planet-science.com] was underestimated by the researchers...

Language implications (0)

jocks (56885) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122073)

So, instead of the traditional "Let's go up to London" should we be now using the more technically accurate "Let's go down to London"?

Is the UK stock market in a permanent state of decline? We have a right to know!

Re:Language implications (1)

drunkahol (143049) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122193)

Well that's all very well for you, but London is always "down" for me since I live in Edinburgh.

It's a pity we couldn't speed this thing up a bit so I could see house prices changing within my lifetime.

Dunk

London's sinking? (1)

henrygb (668225) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122219)

In the medium term, the greater risk seems to be from rising groundwater [thameswateruk.co.uk] , presumably resulting in London floating off down the Thames.

Re:Language implications (1)

CausticWindow (632215) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122224)

Tilting up in the north and down in south won't change this. If it had been the other way around though..

Unless of course you think that going north on a map is going down for some reason.

To quote the Kopyright Liberation Front (The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu):

Bolton, Barnsley, Nelson, Colne, Burnley Bradford, Buxton, Crewe, Warrington, Widnes, Wigan, Leeds, Northwich, Nantwich, Knutsford, Hull, Sale, Salford, Southport, Leigh, Derby, Kearsley Keighley Maghull, Harrogate, Huddersfield, Oldham, Lancs, Grimsby, Glossop, Hebden Bridge, It's Gay Up North

Re:Language implications (1)

MWelchUK (585458) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122263)

The world is a close aproximation of a sphere, hence it all depends where you take your plane of reference to lie.

If you take your plane of reference to run through London, everything is down from it.

Accuracy? (0)

thesysadmin (660290) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122075)

I would like to know how accurate the equipment is. I know that the GPS I have on my parents boat is good for speedometer, odometer, and path traveled; but the altometer sucks.

Altometer on a boat?! (1)

ahadley (665625) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122093)

I may just be being stupid, but since you have the altometer on a boat isnt it always at sea level..... and thus less than useful?!

just my 2 (euro) cents worth

Alex

Re:Altometer on a boat?! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6122299)

However, sea level varies due to tides. Knowing that the water is too shallow for you to cross that sandbar is much nicer then wrecking your yacht...

Re:Altometer on a boat?! (2, Insightful)

lyonsden (543685) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122304)

A lot of bodies of water are above sea level. The Colorado river [kaibab.org] starts at 9,010 feet above sea level.

Re:Accuracy? (1)

k4hg (443029) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122158)

The altitude measurement is indeed worse than the other two dimenensions, because the satellites are all on a single side of the solution. The difference in errors is not that great though, only about 1.6 times. If the earth was transparent to radio signals, the accuracy would be the same in all three dimensions...but you still wouldn't percieve it that way.

There are more clues to one's altitude than to one's latitude and longitude...you see where sea level is, or see signs denoting altitude as you travel. These are in the same units your GPS displays, and you can compare them and notice the error. If you had access to the same sort of easily interpreted errors in the horizontal plane, you would notice the errors there much more than you do now.

Re:Accuracy? (1)

jeremyp (130771) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122357)

Altitude is usually measured in height above mean sea level. Unfortunately mean sea level depends on many things including local gravitational anomalies. A big dense rock underground will make the gravitational field locally stronger which means that even if the surface above the rock is mathematically flat, it will appear to have a dip in it where the rock is.

For a GPS to give accurate absolute altitude, it needs to have a map of all the local gravitational anomalies on the planet (or at least in the area it is used in).

OTOH if you are trying to measure changes of height ("Scotland is rising") the absolute zero doesn't matter.

Why does this sound familliar? (2, Funny)

rjch (544288) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122084)

Lifing at one and and sinking at the other? Where have I heard this before?

Oh yeah, that's right... the Titanic...

that movie sucks. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6122189)

that movie sucks, bitch

Re:Why does this sound familliar? (0)

Doomrat (615771) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122206)

yes teh titantuck sunked too ;lol

Tilt (2, Informative)

zbob (157075) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122086)

Sounds to me like this tilting is just the land settling down after the last ice age. The north of the country used to be covered in ice, while the south was clear. Now that the weight of the ice has gone, the land is just seeking a point of equilibrium.

Tilting is old news (2, Informative)

mce (509) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122096)

The fact that the northern part of Europe is rising and the southern part is sinking (for a rather broad definition of southern: Holland is sinking too), has been known for a long time. I was told in highschool (think before 1983) that this is due do the northern part having been pushed downwards during ice age(s) due to the massive weight ot the ice. When the ice last retreated, the current tilting movement was initiated.

Spaceborne SAR (2, Interesting)

d-Orb (551682) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122097)

Slightly OT, but just to mention that imaging microwave radar (as those mounted in the ENVISAT or ERS satellites, for example) is also being used to monitor small changes in elevation, using a technique based on interferometric SAR (which is behind the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission [nasa.gov] .

The benefit of using a satellite orbiting around the Earth is that you don't need to deploy all the "base stations". If you want to find out more, google for "differential interferometry" or somesuch :-)

and amazingly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6122100)

during the iraq war the uk moved 100m to the west

The important question... (1)

pubjames (468013) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122104)

This allows the team to gain an understanding of how the UK landmass is likely to change over the coming centuries.

So, is the UK drifting west across the Atlantic, as some of paranoid us Brits fear?

Re:The important question... (2, Informative)

jeremyp (130771) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122372)

From the article:

GPS measurements have also allowed scientists to show that the UK is drifting about 2-3 cm each year in a north-easterly direction.

The reason for the sinking (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6122106)

The reason for the sinking wasn't stated in the article, but it's well known, already. My huge cock is resting on the southern shore of the island, pushing down on it. Because magma is a thick liquid, solid objects don't sink quickly through it and it doesn't move quickly. Even though my cock is weighing down on the southern end, the north end doesn't go down. In fact, the displaced magma pushing out from the south end is causing the north end to rise, and a slight rise in the sea floor under the English Channel. This has also been observed by use of sonar from British ships in the channel.

This isn't news, but perhaps I could solve it if I could find a position by which I can rest my huge cock on the north end of the UK. It would even out with the north end sinking back down and the south end rising up to previous levels.

It's rather amazing that GPS is sensitive enough to note the changes. The landmass is massive. It's also amazing that a cock could be large enough to move a landmass. But it's happening.

I hope this clears things up.

space technology applications (1)

non (130182) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122127)

the first thing i thought of was a piece [wired.com] in wired [wired.com] about microsatellites to track terrestrial phenomenon. the real world, that outside of the military, has plenty of uses for new technology as soon as its readily available and not too expensive. there was another article [wired.com] in wired about using satellite technology to track trucks. both of these applications use space technology, and neither of them can be replaced simply with gps, but they illustrate the types of applications that such technology enables. anything that requires precise geographical measurements over time is now possible, as long as you can get a grant for the equipment.

silly (1)

d_strand (674412) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122130)

this brings a whole new meaning to:

"Rule, Britannia, Britannia rules the sea!"

... or was it 'waves'?

Wonderful! (1, Insightful)

w.p.richardson (218394) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122137)

More pseudo-science to support whatever the latest fad theory du jour is!

Global warming! Phew, it's hot!

Global freeezing! Brrr, it's cold!

Recreational boating decreases the sea level!

etc.

These devices are not accurate enough for this. Continental drift occurs on the order of feet per eon. I can almost hear the hysteria: "Researchers predict the Atlantic Ocean will be empty by 2012", soon to be followed by "Oops, disregard that last report - Mount Kilamanjaro will be an island in 2015!"

What a waste of time.

Re:Wonderful! (2, Insightful)

sandgroper (145126) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122164)

These devices are not accurate enough for this.


On the contrary, while the receivers that you spend a hundred bucks on are indeed not accurate enough, GPS based geodesy is a raging success. They use very expensive receivers with multiple frequencies and occupy sites for hours at a time to get the kinds of numbers needed for geodetic measurements. Been going on for years. The major inaccuracies have to do with index-of-refraction effects in the atmosphere (hence the need for multi-frequency instruments).

For those interested... (4, Informative)

heli0 (659560) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122139)

..in how they use GPS to make such precise measurements you can read about it here:

Using GPS to Separate Crustal Movements and Sea Level Changes at Tide Gauges in the UK [nottingham.ac.uk]

Application of the Dual-GPS Concept to Monitoring Vertical Land Movements at Tide Gauges [nottingham.ac.uk]

Old hat... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6122140)

This kind of work has been going on since the late '80s. Does this really qualify as "news" for nerds???

Accuracy (5, Interesting)

ljavelin (41345) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122149)

From "Navigation Satellites & GPS v2.2.3 / 01 dec 02 / gvgoebel@earthlink.net /"


Geophysicists have been exploiting GPS since the mid-1980s, using it to measure continental drift and the movement of the Earth's surface in geologically active regions. They have been able to obtain accurate surface measurements to within a few millimeters through a procedure known as "carrier tracking", which is even more accurate than differential GPS. Carrier tracking actually senses the phase of the carrier signals on which the location code sequences are broadcast. It is, not surprisingly, a tricky and subtle procedure, and not applicable for general use.

Silly question... (1)

zakezuke (229119) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122151)

Ok, i understand the basic idea behind GPS. Satalites in orbit where basic geometry is used based on the subtle diffrence in the time it takes a signal to get to a device, well i'm assuming this.

Could be useful for tracking moving things like land masses and ocean levels.

Question: If our land masses are moving, and water moves, what ever do we actually calibrate the satalights with in the first place?

The only thing that comes to mind is the axis of the earth. Would someone wiser then I in this area elaberate, i'm somewhat curious.

Old news (1)

twem2 (598638) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122159)

Its been known for a long time that the north is rising and the south sinking. We were taught that in Geography about 7 or 8 years ago.
Its due to the glaciers having melted in the north.

Re:Old news (1)

Adversive (159469) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122238)

And here is irrefutable proof why the South won't rise again... [south-will...-again.com]

South is sinking? (2, Funny)

muffen (321442) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122191)

.. I thought it couldn't sink any further.
I always new there was something fishy in the south side of britain. Ah well.. atleast now they have showed that it will hit rock bottom soon :)

Whats the point of having excellent karma if not to spend it every once in a while?

Re:South is sinking? (1)

bankman (136859) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122259)

This is the kind of interpretation that can only come from a Geordie. Too much beer and shagging in the streets of Newcastle must have a lasting effect on the mind. Come to think of it, I miss it quite a lot :)

Forces of nature (1)

jabbadabbadoo (599681) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122194)

The results of their research makes no sense before the measurements have been conducted and analyzed over a long period of time.

The "tilting" is just an observation of the variying stretch of an equatorial bulge, due to centrifugal force. Also, the rotational axis wobbles between 21.5 and 24.5 degrees and the GPS precision varies slightly due to moment of inertia.

Scientists from Nottingham... Not quite.

Some history... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6122202)

"They have discovered that the British Isles are tilting, with the north of the country gaining altitude and the south of the country 'sinking'"

GREAT DISCOVERY *sarcasm*

Since the late pleistocene the big icesheets on top of Northern Europe disappeared by global climat change from glacial to interglacial (cfr. Iversen model). As a concequence of this loss of mass on top of these plates they began to bounce back up. Imagine taking a piece of drifting wood, push it down. If you lift your finger it will rise up again. The same principal goes for continental plates and is called isostatic uplift.

So, since the beginning of the holocene and end of the pleistocene countries now known as Sweden, Norway began to rise and Belgium and the Netherlands for example began to sink, because the y once were uplifted by the weight on the northern part of europe.

It seems normal that these consequences aren't just limited to european main land but also influence the UK. In fact Scotland has had a big icecap during the last iceage so the isostatic uplift of Scotland and the drowning, if you may call it that, of the south of the UK isn't exactly new.

They may claim having measured it, but they certainly may not claim the discovery of these changes because that's veeeeeery old news.

OH NO! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6122227)

We better start wearing live-vests 24 hours
a day, because when the UK capsizes...

I knew it! (0)

archetypeone (599370) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122234)

There are too many people in London.

Booze Cruise (1)

Cackmobile (182667) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122243)

Sweet maybe in a few millenia we will be able to drive right across to France for that cheap booze and cigarettes.

Seaside (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6122274)

I always wanted to live by the seaside ..

Proof that Northerners are Rubbish! (0)

Mike Mentalist (544984) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122278)

> They have discovered that the British Isles are
> tilting, with the north of the country gaining
> altitude and the south of the country 'sinking'

This is further proof to Northerners that they are all envious of us Southern shandy drinkers.
First they use the roads to move to London en masse, and now they are trying to swap the whole COUNTRY around by upending it and putting the likes of Liverpool and Manchester in the South!
Talk about 'mass migration'...

Solution! (1)

Oakey (311319) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122314)

What us English need is an ingenious businessman to come up with a plan to turn the Country around, then we just start building in the 'new south' and it evens everything out.

Some of this is not new (2, Informative)

Slamtilt (17405) | more than 11 years ago | (#6122386)

The tilt, at least, has been known for a quite a while; I remember joking with a friend from London that London might be horrible, but if we just waited a few million years the problem would be solved (we were in Scotland). That was back in the late eighties.
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