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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Drop-a-Drifter Enables Virtual Predictions

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Many swimmers and pilots make all kinds of plans based on tidal charts augmented by their personal experience, experienced mariners, watermen and waterwomen know that variable winds and dynamic weather conditions can cause all kinds of practical problems for a human swimming along at the surface of the lake or ocean at a 1-3 mph (1.6-4.8 kph) pace.

A number of researchers and modelers are working on more accurate means to predict local conditions on the world's ocean with increased accuracy. Over time, their efforts will certainly help the open water swimming community achieve their goals.

The Scripps Institution of Oceanography team in La Jolla, California uses an interesting tool called Drop-a-Drifter. It is part of their Regional Ocean Modeling System that enables individuals to identify a location and calculate a current, winds and waves trajectory with a 72-hour forecast. The tool that is managed by the Southern California Coastal Ocean Observing System is useful in planning for ocean swims up and down the coast of California.

For currents, see here

For winds (with a 30-hour forecast), see here.

For waves and swells, see here

According to the Southern California Coastal Ocean Observing System, the Drop-a-Drifter tool projects water trajectories off the California Coast and analyzes the movement of a particle of water (the trajectory) that can be computed at selected depths of the upper 400 meters during the past two weeks and 72 hours into the future.

Individuals can choose a starting point for a trajectory by 'dropping' a virtual drifter marker here. Swimmers should understand, however, that this data are projections and the performance of the drifter trajectories has not yet been evaluated with observational data.

Copyright © 2015 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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