Ocean Dynamics

, Volume 62, Issue 6, pp 943–952 | Cite as

FVCOM model estimate of the location of Air France 447

  • Changsheng Chen
  • Richard Limeburner
  • and members of the UMASS-D FVCOM Group
  • Guoping Gao
  • Qichun Xu
  • Jianhua Qi
  • Pengfei Xue
  • Zhigang Lai
  • Huichan Lin
  • and members of the WHOI Field Measurement Group
  • Robert Beardsley
  • Breck Owens
  • Barry Carlson
Article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Advances in Search and Rescue at Sea

Abstract

On June 1, 2009, Air France AF447 disappeared in the Equatorial Atlantic Ocean en route from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to Paris, France. On June 6–19, 2009, bodies and debris from the aircraft were recovered floating in the equatorial ocean. This paper describes efforts on using the global–local nested finite volume community ocean model (FVCOM) to model reversely the tracks of bodies and debris back to the time of the crash and to help searchers locate the cockpit voice and flight data recorders and learn why this tragic accident occurred. To validate the reliability and reality of FVCOM, eight surface drifters were deployed by the French Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses pour la sécurité de l’aviation civile (BEA) near the last known position in early June 2010 for a period of 3 weeks. These drifter data were used to optimize the spatial and temporal correlation scales of the adaptive sampling data assimilation method of FVCOM. Applying an optimized FVCOM system to assimilate all available drifter- and float-tracking-derived currents in May–June 2009 under three different wind conditions, we reproduced the June 2009 current fields in the area near the LKP and used these fields to reversely track bodies and debris from locations where they were found to the time when the crash occurred. Possible locations for the crashed plane were suggested based on our model results and were made available to the French investigators and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution REMUS autonomous underwater vehicle Operations Group who successfully located the aircraft debris field in April 2011 on the seafloor at a depth of 3,900 m.

Keywords

Air France 447 AF447 FVCOM Global–regional nested FVCOM system FVCOM unstructured grid finite volume coastal ocean model UMASS-D SMAST WHOI BEA Airbus 330 

References

  1. Burchard H (2002) Applied turbulence modeling in marine waters. Springer, Berlin, 215 ppGoogle Scholar
  2. Chen C, Liu H, Beardsley R (2003) An unstructured grid, finite-volume, three-dimensional, primitive equations ocean model: application to coastal ocean and estuaries. J Atmos Ocean Technol 20(1):159–186CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Chen C, Wu Z, Beardsley RC, Shu S, Xu C (2005) Using MM5 to hindcast the ocean surface forcing fields over the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank region. J Atmos Ocean Technol 22(2):131–145CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chen C, Beardsley RC, Cowles G (2006a) An unstructured grid, finite-volume coastal ocean model (FVCOM) system. Special Issue entitled “Advance in Computational Oceanography”. Oceanography 19(1):78–89CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chen C, Beardsley RC, Cowles G (2006b) An unstructured grid, finite-volume coastal ocean model-FVCOM user manual, 2nd edn. School for Marine Science and Technology, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, New Bedford. Technical report SMAST/UMASSD-06-0602, 318 ppGoogle Scholar
  6. Pietrzak JJ, Jakobson B, Burchard H, Vested HJ, Petersen O (2002) A three-dimensional hydrostatic model for coastal and ocean modeling using a generalized topography following co-ordinate system. Ocean Model 4:173–205CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Smagorinsky J (1963) General circulation experiments with the primitive equations. I. The basic experiment. Mon Weather Rev 91:99–164CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Changsheng Chen
    • 1
    • 2
  • Richard Limeburner
    • 2
  • and members of the UMASS-D FVCOM Group
  • Guoping Gao
    • 1
  • Qichun Xu
    • 1
  • Jianhua Qi
    • 1
  • Pengfei Xue
    • 1
  • Zhigang Lai
    • 1
  • Huichan Lin
    • 1
  • and members of the WHOI Field Measurement Group
  • Robert Beardsley
    • 2
  • Breck Owens
    • 2
  • Barry Carlson
    • 3
  1. 1.School for Marine Science and TechnologyUniversity of Massachusetts-Dartmouth (UMASS-D)New BedfordUSA
  2. 2.Department of Physical OceanographyWoods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI)Woods HoleUSA
  3. 3.New PlymouthNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations