Understanding and Predicting Ocean Weather

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As an oceanographer I make measurements of the ocean to understand how the ocean works and how its impacts on climate, on people and coastal infrastructure. The more technological advances that we make we can measure the ocean at different scales. So when we actually go out on a ship couldn’t stay out there for a long time when the weather got bad we had to come back in so now we can use the gliders that can stay out there to exactly what we used to do but now we can do it remotely and we can collect data that we’ve never seen before.

In the last 10 or 15 years since the 2004 Tsunami, we were part of the team which actually developed a tsunami warning system for the whole of the Indian Ocean. So we’re trying to protect communities warning communities not only in Australia but the whole of the Indian Ocean and now we actually doing work as part of the bushfire natural hazard Cooperative Research Center to understand storm surges and coastal flooding around the whole of Australia, so they can actually plan how to approach an emergency response.

The other one that we also do is surface drift modeling so how can we tracked object in the sea for example we track turtles in the ocean where do they go we can oil spills and for the last two years we’ve been predicting where the debris from MH370 would end up and we were the first people to show that the western Indian Ocean is the most likely place it will end up. The person who went and collected debris in Mozambique was in my office and I told him where to go and he actually went there and found it.

Part of the research that we do is looking at where the plastics maybe going so we working with a Dutch group called The Ocean Cleanup. This is a young person who has this idea about developing these large structures to put in the middle of the ocean which will basically suck up all the plastics so we working with them to help understand and better predict how their systems will work. Everything that we do is public so the glider data can be used by anyone, anywhere else in the world and real-time we show this. We’re producing products which inform the public and the policymakers and the managers so they can make more informed decisions.

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