Wind-induced drift of objects at sea: The leeway field method

Type Article
Date 2011-04
Language English
Author(s) Breivik Oyvind1, Allen Arthur A.2, Maisondieu ChristopheORCID3, Roth Jens Christian4
Affiliation(s) 1 : Norwegian Meteorol Inst, NO-5007 Bergen, Norway.
2 : US Coast Guard, Office of Search and Rescue, CT, USA
3 : IFREMER, France
4 : Royal Norwegian Navy, Norway
Source Applied Ocean Research (0141-1187) (Elsevier Sci Ltd), 2011-04 , Vol. 33 , N. 2 , P. 100-109
DOI 10.1016/j.apor.2011.01.005
WOS© Times Cited 75
Keyword(s) Search and rescue, SAR, Leeway, Trajectory modelling, Surface currents, Drifting objects, Drifters, Ocean modeling
Abstract A method for conducting leeway field experiments to establish the drift properties of small objects (0.1-25 m) is described. The objective is to define a standardized and unambiguous procedure for condensing the drift properties down to a set of coefficients that may be incorporated into existing stochastic trajectory forecast models for drifting objects of concern to search and rescue operations and other activities involving vessels lost at sea such as containers with hazardous material. An operational definition of the slip or wind and wave-induced motion of a drifting object relative to the ambient current is proposed. This definition taken together with a strict adherence to a 10 m wind speed allows us to refer unambiguously to the leeway of a drifting object. We recommend that all objects if possible be studied using what we term the direct method, where the object's leeway is studied directly using an attached current meter. We establish a minimum set of parameters that should be estimated for a drifting object for it to be included in the operational forecast models used for prediction of search areas for drifting objects. We divide drifting objects into four categories, depending on their size. For the smaller objects (less than 0.5 m), an indirect method of measuring the object's motion relative to the ambient current must be used. For larger objects, direct measurement of the motion through the near-surface water masses is strongly recommended. Larger objects are categorized according to the ability to attach current meters and wind monitoring systems to them. The leeway field method proposed here is illustrated with results from field work where three objects were studied in their distress configuration; a 1:3.3 sized model of a 40-foot Shipping container, a World War II mine and a 220 I (55-gallon) oil drum. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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