Drift prediction with WERA at the French coast near Brest

At the French coast near Brest a pair of WERA ocean radar stations are operational since 2006. The range of these systems is about 120 km with a spatial resolution of 1.5 km and a temporal resolution of 3 measurements per hour. These two shore based stations cover an ocean area of about 10,000 km². The normal purpose of these systems is to provide actual maps of ocean surface currents and significant wave height for the Vessel Traffic Services and for Oceanographic research.

Provided ocean current and wave data are used to improve predictions of drifting objects in case of an accident or oil spill.

Presently, search and rescue tools are based on hydro-dynamical and atmospheric models to provide hindcast and forecast situations. Even if these oceanic numerical models are efficient to produce instantaneous maps of currents, the accuracy of derived Lagrangian trajectories is not sufficient for search and rescue purposes. Results of the SAR-DRIFT project show the significant improvement of the drift simulation, when using real-time current data provided by radar systems instead of using results from numerical models.

This improved quality of the drift prediction can be very useful for Search and Rescue applications. In addition, this drift prediction can be used for the forecast of drifting oil spill or containers in case of an accident to make the management of the pollution more effective. Furthermore this tool can be used in case of oil pollution for backtracking any detected pollution to identify the origin and time of this pollution. This can help to identify the polluter.

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(pdf 761 KB)

Coastal Radar "WERA", a tool for hazards management (pdf 761 KB)
by Thomas Helzel (Helzel Messtechnik GmbH, Vincent Mariette and Marc Pavec (both Actimar S.A.)


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