The University of Western Australia’s [UWA] Professor of Oceanography, Charitha Pattiaratchi, discussed the latest MH370 drift model with us last week and revealed that the fastest supercomputer in the southern hemisphere helped calculate debris locations.
Prof. Pattiaratchi, who has spent over 20 years at UWA, is assisting the Australian Transport Safety Bureau investigate MH370 by tracking particles in the ocean and building constantly-updated models which show potential debris off the east coast of Africa, years ago.
“The model is global and is ongoing,” Prof. Pattiaratchi said. “The region where we seed the origin of the debris is along the seventh arc.”
The seventh arc is located off the west coast of Australia and is based on seven acoustic “pings” from MH370’s engine data, analyzed after the disappearance. The last “ping” from MH370 was received at 00:19 UTC and was detected in the area pictured below.
“The model is based on real ocean data including ocean and atmospheric measurements and satellite data,” Prof. Pattiaratchi said. “To run the drift model takes several hours on a supercomputer, the fastest in the southern hemisphere.” At least 50,000 particles are tracked for over two years, he said.
MH370 next of kin, Grace Nathan, whose mother Anne Daisy was on MH370, released images in a Facebook post of potential debris spots [below] while on a trip to Madagascar with six other next-of-kin.
MH370 went missing on March 8, 2014, during a routine flight between Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and the Chinese capital, Beijing, with 239 people aboard.
The first piece of debris positively identified as being from MH370 was discovered on Reunion Island, off Madagascar, in July 2015. Prof. Pattiaratchi had predicted this debris find one year earlier, based on his models which begin at the seventh arc.
“The computer predictions indicated that it would take between 12 and 18 months for the debris to travel from the south-east Indian Ocean to Reunion Island,” he said at the time in 2015. “There is also a possibility that debris may be washed ashore on the coast of Western Australia,” he added.