The National Forecasting Centre of Météo-France provides met-ocean support and drift forecasts to assist authorities in charge of accidental marine pollution and search and rescue operations. The system is operated at Cedre's request in support of oil spill response operations and at the request of the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres in support of search and rescue operations.
On July 25, 2020, the MV Wakashio hit a reef and ran aground off Pointe d'Esny, on the southeast coast of Mauritius. On the morning of August 6, oil leaked out of a fuel tank. Oil pumping operations were carried out. They were completed on August 12. On August 16, the ship broke in two. On August 19, the front part of the ship is towed about 20 kilometers from the coast. It sinks on August 24.Following a request from the Mauritian authorities for assistance from France, the Prefect of Reunion Island, Prefect of the Southern Indian Ocean Defense Zone and Government Delegate for State Action at Sea, decided to activate a crisis cell. Meteo-France then became involved to forecast the drift of oil.
The Grande America accident in the Bay of Biscay is the most significant event of 2019.
Due to a fire, the Grande America, which carried 365 containers and 2,000 vehicles, sank on 12 March 2019, 350 km off the French coast, with approximately 2,200 tonnes of bunker fuel on board. An unknown quantity of heavy fuel oil was released into the marine environment on the day the vessel sank, followed by 35 days of continuous leakage before the breaches in the hull were sealed by an underwater robot.
The Ministry of Ecological and Solidarity Transition (MTES) has entrusted Meteo-France with the implementation of a service for detecting, monitoring and predicting the stranding of sargasso beds in the French West Indies and French Guiana. Up to 4 reports per day (one for each area: Northern Caribbean, Guadeloupe, Martinique and French Guiana) are prepared and sent to the national authorities in charge of sargasso management (DEAL). In this context, Meteo-France and Mercator Ocean International collaborate to calculate sargasso drift with the MOTHY model, and CLS ensures sargasso detection by satellite and coordinates with NovaBlue Environment and I-Sea to produce the input data for the Meteo-France bulletins.
On October 7, 2018, the Tunisian ro-ro vessel Ulysse collided with the Cypriot container ship CSL Virginia at anchor off northern Corsica.
Météo-France commitments at national level
Météo-France participates in the fight against accidental pollution with the marine oil pollution response organizations, within the spill response plan POLMAR-MER. Météo-France is responsible for implementing pollutant drift forecasts in conjunction with Cedre, and providing the human expertise necessary for their interpretation.
The system can also be used for specific studies.
The National Weather Services have the vocation to bring in real time Météo-oceanic information to various users, among whom organisations in charge of the control of pollution. They traditionally provide data and services to assist the operations in territorial waters. These services work then in close connection with the authorities in charge of the fight at sea. With an aim of ensuring a comparable service in quality in international waters, the WMO set up since 1994 the Marine Pollution Emergency Response Support System (MPERSS) for the high seas. It initially aims at setting up a coordinated system intended to provide weather and oceanographic information - when it is necessary and on request - for emergency interventions in the event of marine pollution outside territorial waters. The oceans and the seas are divided into areas of responsibility called MPI areas (Marine Pollution Incident), they correspond to METAERAS areas of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS). On each of these areas, meteorological assistance is coordinated by an Area Meteorological and Oceanographic Co-ordinator (AMOC) who is a national meteorological service.
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NOOS-Drift is a transnational multi-models ensemble system to assess and improve drift forecast accuracy in the European North West Continental Shelf Seas.
Main features of the MOTHY system
The MOTHY system developed by Météo-France is used on an operational basis to predict the drift of pollutants or floating objects on the ocean surface. The system includes local area hydrodynamic coastal ocean modelling and real-time atmospheric forcing from meteorological models.
Geophysical forcing data
Drift predictions depend primarily on reliable and timely access to observed and predicted environmental data.
Oil spill drift predictions
The oil spill forecasting system was developed by combining Cedre's expertise in oil chemistry with Météo-France's expertise in weather and ocean forecasting and modelling to provide a robust operational service maintained by Météo-France. The MOTHY model, which calculates the three-dimensional drift of surface and sub-surface oil, is a "superparticles" model. Superparticles are seeded at each time step, according to the specified location, duration and rate of release.
Container drift predictions
Containers at sea are a hazard to navigation. The maritime authorities thus wish to be able to announce their position to the navigators, or to recover them. The system includes a combination of modeling and analytical approach to estimate the leeway rate (leeway speed / wind speed) as function of the rectangular box immersion rate.
Search and Rescue targets
63 classes of SAR objects have been compiled by the U.S. Coast Guard as part of extensive field campaigns and have been generously made available. The data base is progressively enriched by the results of experiments carried out at sea by specialized agencies or by feedback provided by Maritime Rescue Coordination Centers (MRCC). 15 new objects were incorporated in 2015. Objects drift at an angle to the wind, and symmetry allows two drift directions, left and right of downwind. These two positions are not stable. The object can jibe, namely, change tack downwind. The frequency of these changes is an important element for modeling search areas. A Monte Carlo technique is used to generate an ensemble that accounts for the uncertainties in leeway drift properties and jibing frequency.
Last update: February 1, 2021