Marine users need information about ocean conditions so they can work safely, efficiently and without harming the environment.
Understanding and predicting ocean conditions is essential for those working in the marine environment. The constantly changing nature of the ocean brings considerable risk and uncertainty to marine industries and operators, such as fisheries, maritime transport and the Navy. To ensure their safety and enable them to complete their operations effectively and with minimal risk to the environment, these industries need to understand the environmental conditions at and below the ocean surface.
The ocean, however, is complex, difficult to predict and very large. These factors make getting reliable information about current and future ocean conditions a challenge.
Ocean forecasts to guide operations and improve maritime safety
Improvements in the power of super-computers, ocean models and ocean observations presented an opportunity to address this challenge. By drawing these tools together, we worked with our partners to build a system that could provide a comprehensive estimate of the current ocean conditions, as well as predict those conditions into the future.
Bluelink produces a comprehensive suite of ocean forecasts. It is used by maritime industries to predict marine scenarios ranging from local beach conditions to regional currents and waves, and oceanic circulation on a global scale.
Bluelink predictions are high in accuracy, which is a result of access to a range of data. It uses ocean observations from the sea (via moored sensors, ships, robotic gliders and Argo floats) and from space (via satellite). These datasets are processed and interpreted to create accurate, near-real time models and forecasts. For more detailed technical information about Bluelink science go to https://research.csiro.au/bluelink/
With Bluelink partners, CSIRO provides scientific services, delivered via:
- a Relocatable Ocean Atmosphere Model (ROAM) system, a fine resolution prediction system at regional scales, and
- The Bluelink ReANalysis (BRAN), a global ocean hindcast that is the key to understanding ocean circulation.
Research on BRAN conducted together with the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) underpins the Bluelink global Ocean Model Analysis and Prediction System (OceanMAPS). OceanMAPS is the BoM operational ocean forecasting system that delivers 7-day forecasts of the global ocean conditions accessible to all Australians.
A new capability for all marine users
Ocean forecasting adds a predictive tool to Australia’s already sophisticated meteorological capabilities.
Bluelink also provides the Australian Navy with a tactical advantage. Detailed information about current and future conditions in the ocean helps to guide activities at sea and near shore. This information is shared with marine planners, and maritime industry and safety authorities.
The Bluelink partnership is creating economic and social benefits on a broad scale across government, science, industry, business and the community.
Bluelink forecasts are available to all marine users, including:
- the Royal Australian Navy (RAN)
- maritime transport providers
- the fishing industry
- tourism operators
- marine managers.
Australia’s Defence tactical operations rely on Bluelink’s critical capability for situational awareness in decision-making and operational exercises; helping to locate and map historical shipwrecks and hazardous areas; and search and rescue efforts.
The search for the Malaysian aircraft MH370 used Bluelink predictions. Bluelink models were also integral to narrowing down the seafloor search area in the Indian Ocean.
Oil and gas
The oil and gas industry use our ocean forecasts to assist with structural design and operational safety, as well as minimising down-time and management of oil spills. Tracking the Montara oil spill off Western Australia in 2009 is one example.
Fisheries managers use Bluelink information to determine how changes in ocean conditions (currents, water temperature and salinity) influence fisheries resources. This includes the Western rock lobster, Eastern tuna and Billfish.