Friday, 31 July 2015

Scientists at The University of Western Australia say there is a consistency between the current search area at Reunion Island and where debris from missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 could have drifted to, based on their research.

Professor of Coastal Oceanography Charitha Pattiaratchi and UWA scientists compiled computer modelling maps 12 months ago and further refined these in the past 24 hours.

The maps show the possible location of the suspected crash site of MH370 and the potential drift patterns of the debris based on ocean currents and a range of other factors.

Professor Pattiaratchi said the major currents in the southern Indian Ocean transport water from east to west across the ocean.

“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.

He said there was a possibility that more debris could wash up in the region around Reunion Island as well as Madagascar in the coming weeks.

“There is also a possibility that debris may be washed ashore on the coast of Western Australia.” he said.

“One piece of debris washing up on the same beach isn’t going to help us, what we would really like to have is a variety of locations - that will give us a much better chance of finding out what happened to the missing flight.

“The models which calculate the currents take all the data that we have into consideration to compile results, based on the laws of physics.

“If the debris found is confirmed to be part of missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, this will be consistent with the computer modelling we have been working on at UWA,” he said.

Professor Pattiaratchi said that if more debris was found in different regions of the Indian Ocean, through reverse computer modelling it would be possible to reduce the area of uncertainty in the search area.

“Having found this piece of debris does not change the process the investigators are going through, however it’s another step in the hopeful situation that we will ultimately know what happened to the missing aircraft,” he said.

Media references

Jess Reid (UWA Media and PR Officer)                                                                             (+61 8) 6488 6876


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