CSIRO Helping Search Crews In Quest To Find MH370

April 8, 2014 – It has been a month since MH370 went missing and still the Indian Ocean continues to defy global search teams. Its vast expanse and hidden depths hold the secrets of what happened to the missing plane — answers the world is so desperate to discover.

It is the least studied ocean on Earth, and for weeks experts have been turning their gaze to the currents, drift and behaviour of these waters.

Australia’s national science agency, the CSIRO, has been providing technical ocean modelling to search authorities — to determine where a piece of debris could be now and where it came from.

Nick Hardman-Mountford, a biological oceanographer with the CSIRO, said: “It could be moving potentially one knot in speed, which sounds quite slow but if you add that up over time, you could be tracking 50 kilometres in a day.”

With the detection of acoustic pulses by a pinger locator on Australia’s Ocean Shield, potentially from the plane’s black box recorders, authorities have narrowed their focus area — it means researchers too can refine their data.

Professor Charitha Pattiaratchi, who is with the University of Western Australia’s Ocean Institute, said: “So we look at where the Ocean Shield is located, and then we put that into our model… if there was any debris located in that region it would basically be going round and round (an) eddy, it’s been there for the last one month or so and this distance is about 200 kilometres.”

Concrete evidence of debris on the ocean surface however has been impossible to locate so far — the search has shifted underwater — to a possible crash site more than four kilometres deep.

Prof Pattiaratchi added: “To give you perspective, Air France was at 3,000 metres, the Titanic was 3,800 metres. 4500 metres is very deep. The pressure down there is about 450 times that of the surface.”

Pressure is mounting on the authorities but as the search drags on, experts said that people are being forced to come to terms with the realisation that not everything in the aviation industry is instant and exact.

Geoffrey Thomas, an aviation expert, said: “It’s a world where you can get an iPhone app that finds your phone in a few seconds for you. All of a sudden we can’t find a 250 tonne airplane with 239 people onboard.”

Despite fears that the black box batteries have already failed, intense search efforts look set to continue.

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