The Location of MH370 - A Reverse Drift Study Based On Debris Found

Introduction

The following is a reverse drift study performed on all debris pieces found thus far in Africa which either are confirmed or believed to be from MH370. The objective of this study is to try to define the most common general area with the highest probability of being the point of origin of where all these debris pieces may have originated from in the Indian Ocean. This study ignores all other data and only uses the drift data from the drift tool (www.adrift.org.au) to determine all possible origin points of all the debris pieces based on their respective locations and estimated drift times at Sea.

The objective of this study is not to determine the precise location of where MH370 wreckage is but to define the general area of where our haystack is and where we should be looking for this plane. Reverse drift science is not a precise science and many factors such as winds, currents, time of year, and drift times affect how these debris pieces may have drifted in the Oceans. However reverse drift models have been proven accurate for telling us the most probable general areas of where debris in the Oceans originated from over time.

About Adrift.org.au.

Adrift.org.au is a free quick, easy tool to quantitatively study planktonic surface drift in the Global Oceans. The tool was created and is maintained by the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney, Australia under the direction of Oceanographers Eric van Sebille and Matthew H England. The technique used to track plastic around the ocean is based on the trajectories of surface drifters from the Global Drifter Program.  The trajectory information is used to form a transit matrix, which captures the statistics of drifter dispersion.  In total, more than 24 million locations from 17,494 individual surface trajectories and spanning a period between 1979 to 2013 are used on adrift.org.au.  

The data from each drift model can be downloaded from the website and loaded into an Excel spreadsheet. In this study I use the data generated from the web tool to create transit matrices for each reverse drift model.

How the study works.

Each piece of debris has a fixed known location and a discovery date.  By using the geographical coordinates of each debris piece and estimating the drift time of each piece based on its discovery date we can create a reverse drift model for each individual piece.  The drift times are determined in even number of months because the adrift web tool works in increments of 2 months only.  So if an object was discovered say 25 months after March, 8th, 2014 ( date of MH370 disappearance) then the drift time would be rounded off to the nearest even month prior to discovery (i.e. 24 months). Since we have no way of knowing the exact drift times of these objects this is the best we can do for estimating these drift times at Sea. I realize that this uncertainty in drift times may introduce some errors to some models but I do not think it will drastically affect the overall results of this study because it is very likely most of these pieces were discovered within 2 months after they washed ashore in most cases.

In each reverse drift model each possible origin point is assigned a weight by the adrift software between 0 and 1, with 1 being the highest probability. To visualize this in the models I use a bubble chart to show all possible origin points and their locations on the chart. The larger the bubble size is the higher probability it has.  Once all reverse drift models have been created for each debris piece the data from all models are then loaded into one composite reverse drift model which will shows us all the possible origin points for all debris pieces and which areas are common to all models and have the highest concentration of high probability origin points.  This area will be the area that most likely is the origin of all the debris found and where the wreckage of MH370 most likely is.

The advantage of using reverse drift modelling as opposed to forward drift modelling is that we do not have to predict a starting point of origin for each model. All forward drift models need to predict a starting point of where they suspect the plane may have crashed, usually somewhere along the 7th arc.  These studies have an inherent bias and assume that the Inmarsat data is valid.  In this reverse drift study we let the software try to determine as accurately as possible where this point of origin is without making any assumptions as to where this location of the plane is, therefore this reverse study in my opinion is far more objective and unbiased.

List of debris items found with their reverse drift models.

Below is a list of all debris items found thus far which are either confirmed or believed to be from MH370. Each item contains a link to their reverse drift model which can be clicked on to animate the model and show where the debris item may have originated from over time. Also included in each item is a graphic of the reverse drift model showing all origin points of each item at the specified drift time. The larger bubbles in these graphics show the locations which have highest probability.

Debris images and information courtesy of WLP twitter @Bookofresearch.

ITEM 1; Drift Time 16 months

ITEM #1

http://www.adrift.org.au/backward?lat=-20.9&lng=55.7&center=79.2&startmon=Jan

Reverse drift model showing all possible origin points of this item 16 months earlier.

 

ITEM 2: Drift Time 20 months

http://www.adrift.org.au/backward?lat=-25.06&lng=33.69&center=79.2&startmon=Jan

Reverse drift model showing all possible origin points of this item 20 months earlier.

ITEM 3: Drift Time 22 months

http://www.adrift.org.au/backward?lat=-22.06&lng=35.52&center=79.2&startmon=Jan

Reverse drift model showing all possible origin points of this item 22 months earlier.

ITEM 4: Drift Time 20 months

UPDATE (28-08-2016): This item was photographed in December 2015 on the beach in Mossel Bay. The item had barnacles on it which indicates the picture must have been taken shortly after it washed ashore. Because of this information this item could only have drifted at Sea not more than 21 months. The reverse drift model below was done for a 20 month drift time period. I have updated the reverse drift model for this item as well as the results section on this blog.

Here is a link to the news report which shows this photograph: http://masterherald.com/flight-mh370-engine-cowling-found-near-mossel-bay-in-south-africa-was-covered-in-barnacles-and-could-not-have-been-planted-new-photo-suggests/40252/

http://www.adrift.org.au/backward?lat=-34.50&lng=22.15&center=79.2&startmon=Jan

Reverse drift model showing all possible origin points of this item 20 months earlier.

ITEM 5: Drift Time 24 months

http://www.adrift.org.au/backward?lat=-19.74&lng=63.47&center=79.2&startmon=Jan

Reverse drift model showing all possible origin points of this item 24 months earlier.

ITEM 6: Drift Time 24 months

http://www.adrift.org.au/backward?lat=-25.06&lng=33.92&center=79.2&startmon=Jan

Reverse drift model showing all possible origin points of this item 24 months earlier.

ITEM 7: Drift Time 24 months

http://www.adrift.org.au/backward?lat=-26.39&lng=32.93&center=79.2&startmon=Jan

Reverse drift model showing all possible origin points of this item 24 months earlier.

ITEM 8: Drift Time 26 months

http://www.adrift.org.au/backward?lat=-20.02&lng=57.7&center=79.2&startmon=Jan

Reverse drift model showing all possible origin points of this item 26 months earlier.

ITEM 9: Drift Time 26 months

http://www.adrift.org.au/backward?lat=-25.86&lng=32.75&center=79.2&startmon=Jan

Reverse drift model showing all possible origin points of this item 26 months earlier.

ITEM 10: Drift Time 26 months

http://www.adrift.org.au/backward?lat=-20.52&lng=57.54&center=79.2&startmon=Jan

Reverse drift model showing all possible origin points of this item 26 months earlier.

ITEM 11: Drift Time 26 months

http://www.adrift.org.au/backward?lat=-16.75&lng=50.0&center=79.2&startmon=Jan

Reverse drift model showing all possible origin points of this item 26 months earlier.

ITEM 12: Drift Time 26 months

http://www.adrift.org.au/backward?lat=-16.75&lng=50.0&center=79.2&startmon=Jan

Reverse drift model showing all possible origin points of this item 26 months earlier.

ITEM 13: Drift Time 26 months

http://www.adrift.org.au/backward?lat=-16.80&lng=49.98&center=79.2&startmon=Jan

Reverse drift model showing all possible origin points of this item 26 months earlier.

ITEM 14: Drift Time 26 months

http://www.adrift.org.au/backward?lat=-16.79&lng=49.98&center=79.2&startmon=Jan

Reverse drift model showing all possible origin points of this item 26 months earlier.

ITEM 15: Drift Time 26 months

http://www.adrift.org.au/backward?lat=-16.84&lng=49.96&center=79.2&startmon=Jan

Reverse drift model showing all possible origin points of this item 26 months earlier.

ITEM 16: Drift Time 26 months

http://www.adrift.org.au/backward?lat=-16.84&lng=49.78&center=79.2&startmon=Jan

Reverse drift model showing all possible origin points of this item 26 months earlier.

ITEM 17: Drift Time 26 months

http://www.adrift.org.au/backward?lat=-16.85&lng=49.81&center=79.2&startmon=Jan

Reverse drift model showing all possible origin points of this item 26 months earlier.

ITEM 18: Drift Time 26 months

http://www.adrift.org.au/backward?lat=-16.85&lng=49.81&center=79.2&startmon=Jan

Reverse drift model showing all possible origin points of this item 26 months earlier.

ITEM 19: Drift Time 26 months

http://www.adrift.org.au/backward?lat=-5.10&lng=39.84&center=79.2&startmon=Jan

Reverse drift model showing all possible origin points of this item 26 months earlier.

ITEM 20: Drift Time 26 months

http://www.adrift.org.au/backward?lat=-26.89&lng=32.88&center=79.2&startmon=Jan

Reverse drift model showing all possible origin points of this item 26 months earlier.

ITEM 21: Drift Time 28 months

http://www.adrift.org.au/backward?lat=-27.24&lng=32.79&center=79.2&startmon=Jan

Reverse drift model showing all possible origin points of this item 28 months earlier.

ITEM 22: Drift Time 28 months

http://www.adrift.org.au/backward?lat=-29.72&lng=31.09&center=79.2&startmon=Jan

Reverse drift model showing all possible origin points of this item 28 months earlier.

ITEM 23: Drift Time 28 months

http://www.adrift.org.au/backward?lat=-23.924&lng=35.53&center=79.2&startmon=Jan

Reverse drift model showing all possible origin points of this item 28 months earlier.

ITEM 24: Drift Time 28 months

http://www.adrift.org.au/backward?lat=-23.76&lng=35.43&center=79.2&startmon=Jan

Reverse drift model showing all possible origin points of this item 28 months earlier.

ITEM 25: Drift Time 22 months

http://www.adrift.org.au/backward?lat=-25&lng=47&center=79.2&startmon=Jan

Reverse drift model showing all possible origin points of this item 22 months earlier.

ITEM 26: Drift Time 22 months

http://www.adrift.org.au/backward?lat=-25&lng=47&center=79.2&startmon=Jan

Reverse drift model showing all possible origin points of this item 22 months earlier.

 

Results of reverse drift analysis.

Based on the results of these drift models the following observations can be made:
1- Several of these reverse drift models (Item 2, Item 3, item 4, Item 6, Item 7, Item 9) show 0% probaility of originating from the current ATSB seabed search area. Therefore this area cannot possibly be the location of where MH370 crashed.
2- The reverse drift model for Item 4 shows 0% probaility that it could have originated from anywhere near the 7th arc in a 20 month drift time period. If the drift time is closer to 21 months then there is only a low probability it could have originated from the 7th arc above 20S.

3- Most of the reverse drift models show a greater probability of originating closer to the Equator than anywhere near the 7th arc. In fact most of the reverse drift models only show a low probability of originating from the 7th arc at all.
4- The graphic below is a composite reverse drift model containing all the drift data of all the reverse drift models in this study and shows all origin points for all debris items. It should be noted that some origin points which have very low weight become so small that they are simply not visible in this graphic. The area which best satisfies and is consistent with all reverse drift models and shows the highest concentration of high probaility origin points is shown in the red box. This area is close to the Equator near Indonesia and covers an area between Longitude 80E and 95E and between Latitude 8N and 7S. Areas outside this red box that show high probability are not consistent with all the reverse drift models in this study therefore these areas can be excluded as being the point of origin for all debris pieces. Only the origin points inside this red box are consistent with all reverse drift models and show the highest probability of being the origin point of all this debris found in Africa.

The most probable place on Earth where MH370 wreckage most likely is, in this red zone.

Based on this data and the results in this study this area indicated in the red box is the most likely area where MH370 wreckage will be found and where all the debris in Africa most likely originated from.

 

This excerpt from Jeff Wise's blog shows that French officials in this leaked French Judiciary Report reached a similar conclusion as to the origin of the flaperon piece and MH370's wreckage.  -  French Judiciary Report Raises Fresh Doubts About MH370 Debris


What is particularly interesting about this area is that it includes the location of where possible aircraft debris was captured by satellite.  The yellow dot in the graphic above, inside the red box, indicates the location of where this debris was spotted. The image below is the satellite image that captured this debris by a DigitalGlobe satellite on March 16th, 2014 which shows 5 pieces of debris that look very similar and match in size, shape, and appearance to parts of a B777-200ER aircraft.

Here is a link to the original satellite image posted on Tomnod. Just click on the 'X" in the intro message to see image. If you zoom out you will see that there were 100s, if not 1000s, of small debris pieces in this area:  http://www.tomnod.com/campaign/mh370_indian_ocean/map/163x4rye

For more info and images on this sighting please visit this blog.

What is also interesting about this area is that there was an eye witness named Mrs. Raja Latife Dalelah who was onboard a flight from Jedda in Saudia Arabia to Kuala Lumpur on March 8th, 2014. She reported seeing an aircraft like object floating in the Andeman Sea at 2:30 PM MYT ( 6:30 UTC). The graphic below shows where her sighting occurred which is directly North of where debris in the satellite photo was captured on March 16th, 2014. Ocean currents in this part of the Andeman Sea tend to flow from North to South so it is very possible she may have seen this debris 8 days earlier on the 8th of March just after the plane crashed there.

Here is a link to a blog on Raja's report.


My belief is that the plane broke apart into several large pieces with hundreds, if not thousands of smaller pieces floating on the surface and drifted towards the South.  I believe that after the debris was captured by satellite on the 16th the debris field  continued to drift South for several more days eventually with the large pieces becoming water logged and sinking near the Equator and the rest of the smaller surface debris ( flotsum ) drifting towards Africa.

Forward Drift Model
Below is a forward drift model whose origin point is close to where this debris was spotted and shows how debris from this location could have drifted towards Africa. This forward drift model also explains why no debris has shown up on the shores of Australia. Here is a forward drift model from adrift.org.au starting at Lat 4.5N Long 90.7E in the month of March.
http://www.adrift.org.au/map?lat=4.5&lng=90.7&center=96.2&startmon=Mar


 

Forward Drift Model: Click on image to animate.  The Model shows why debris in southeast Africa only started showing  between 16- 24 months and why no MH370 debris has been found in Australia.

MP4 video click here:
 

Flaperon Barnacle Data: Click on image to animate

MP4 video click here:

In a study by scientist Patrick De Deckker of the Lepas anatifera barnacles found on the Flaperon piece which washed ashore on Reunion Island the study concludes the following;

"The start of the growth was around 24 degrees (Celsius) and then for quite some time, it ranged between 20 and 18 degrees (Celsius). And then it went up again to around 25 degrees."

Based on this forward drift model (see above) and this animated GIF of Sea Surface Temperatures we can see how the flaperon may have drifted from warmer waters (>24C)  near Sumatra into cooler waters (18-20 C) between 10S and 30S and then into warmer waters (25 C) near Reunion Island. This forward drift model seems to be consistent with De Deckker's findings.
Here is an article on Jeff Wise's blog about this study: http://jeffwise.net/2016/09/10/fascinatingly-mysterious-new-flaperon-barnacle-data/

Click on image below to animate and see Sea Surfaces Temperatures (SST) by month

This drift study does not attempt to explain why the most probable origin area seems to contradict the Inmarsat data other than to say it is my belief that the Inmarsat data may have been compromised in some way. For more on my opinion on this please read my other blogs listed below.

As new debris pieces in the future are discovered I will be periodically updating this model. As time goes by the drift models become increasingly more complex and more dispersed therefore these reverse drift models over longer periods of drift time tend to become less accurate. Having said that I do not expect that these newer discoveries will have any great effect on the overall results in this study.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Based on the results in this study I highly recommend that the ATSB immediately terminate its seabed search in the Southern Indian Ocean. There is no way that all these pieces found in Africa came from anywhere near that search zone. To continue that search would only be a waste of more time and money.

I recommend to the Governments of Australia, Malaysia, and China that a new search zone be defined off the coast of Indonesia starting at these coordinates ( 4.63N, 90.72E )  where possible aircraft debris was captured in satellite imagery. I believe that this debris drifted south for several more days with the large pieces eventually becoming water logged and sinking somewhere near the Equator south of these coordinates. This is where the bulk of the wreckage should be found and the debris which remained on the surface ( flotsam ) drifted from this area and eventually ended up in Africa based on the analysis of this model.

It is my hope that a new search area be created in the area defined in this study based on the physical debris evidence, Ocean drift science, satellite imagery data, and eye witness reports and not based on vague, imprecise, and possibly compromised Inmarsat data. For the sake of the 239 families of the passengers onboard and the travelling public at large we must find this plane no matter what the cost.  Failure in this case is not an option.

 

Cheers,

Ken S

Twitter @kstaubin

Email:kstaubin@hotmail.com

 

Link to Excel spreadsheet containing all drift data used in this study ( file size 34MB ) : https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B35tmLZHg1FENHdWQ3BoX3pOQk0

 

NOTE 1: Image of the ATSB search zone

Image courtesy of ATSB. Hi-Res Link:  https://www.dropbox.com/s/wn7tol4mftzd2cc/ATSB_search_zone.png?dl=0

 

 

References

MH370 Debris Map- Overveiw by WLP twitter @Bookofresearch

https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1Kghrk3iwRInii5qBTG8hfQZ0WmE

Summary of Debris Recovered by WLP twitter @Bookofresearch

https://docs.google.com/document/d/12_YuUHoEwQ16LtFzMI1GqtNTJzEbrRzykaA_p3zuUhg/edit

MH370 Aggregate Debris Drift Analysis by Brock McEwen

https://www.dropbox.com/s/w9f471yqoha6qzq/MH370%20Aggregate%20Debris%20Drift%20Analysis%20w%20Tanzania%20final.pdf?dl=0

MH370: Probabilistic Analysis of Shoreline Debris by Brock McEwen

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B-r3yuaF2p72eWdIbkVPMWtvbUk/view?usp=sharing

Meteo France Judiciary Report

http://jeffwise.net/2016/05/02/french-judiciary-report-raises-fresh-doubts-about-mh370-debris/

Backtracking of the MH370 flaperon from La Réunion by Geomar

http://www.geomar.de/fileadmin/content/service/presse/Pressemitteilungen/2016/MH370_Report_May2016.pdf

Adrift.org.au - a free, quick and easy tool to quantitavively study planktonic surface drift in the global Oceans by Erik van Sebille

https://www.dropbox.com/s/3of1wwngcy1fk68/VanSebille2014_unformatted.pdf?dl=0

www.adrift.org.au: An interactive website about ocean currents and the pathways of marine plastic into the ocean garbage patches by Erik van Sebille and Matthew H England.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/nkcptfl32shia3w/adriftorgau-an-interactive-website-about-ocean-currents-and-the-pathways-of-marine-plastic-into-the.pdf?dl=0

 

 

Links to my other blogs:

What Really Happened to MH370? The Witness Stories.
http://www.thehuntformh370.info/content/what-really-happened-mh370-witness-stories

Was the disappearance of MH370 a CIA false flag operation?

http://www.thehuntformh370.info/content/was-disappearance-mh370-cia-false-flag-operation

Possible MH370 debris sightening in SIO.

http://www.thehuntformh370.info/content/possible-mh370-debris-sighting-sio

My response to the Inmarsat " garbage" question.

http://www.thehuntformh370.info/content/my-response-inmarsat-garbage-question

Possible MH370 debris sightening off coast of Sumatra.

http://www.thehuntformh370.info/content/possible-mh370-debris-sightening-coast-sumatra

 

 

View in block: 
Yes
kstaubin
The accuracy of the adrift web tool

Some people have questioned the accuracy of the adrift web tool and whether or not it takes into account wind effects as well as measuring ocean currents. The answer is yes the historical data sets use both drogued and undrogued buoys. Drogued buoys are less susceptible to wind effects because the buoy is tethered to a drogue which is centered at 15m depth below the surface. Undrogued buoys are effected by wind as well as ocean currents because they are not tethered to any drogue, they just float on the surface and float freely being effected by wind and current. These data sets use 48% drogued and 52% undrogued buoys to measure the drift of plastics, garbage, and marine life in the Oceans. As result we get a fairly accurate indicator of where debris in the Oceans are originating from using this tool which takes into account all weather conditions from over 30+ years of data.

The tool also uses the latest drifter data from the NOAA Global Drifter Program so the data takes into account more recent weather conditions in the last 30 months since MH370 disappeared. This exert from Eric Van Sebille report was published in 2014.

Eric Van Sebille

"The methodology behind adrift.org.au

The surface drifter data

The numerical engine behind adrift.org.au is built on an updated version of the methodology described in (van Sebille et al., 2012a), which is similar to that presented in (Maximenko et al., 2012). In these studies, the trajectories of surface drifters (Niiler, 2001), as aggregated in the NOAA Global Drifting Buoy Program (Lumpkin, 2003; Lumpkin et al., 2012), were used to study the formation and evolution of the marine garbage patches. In total, more than 24 million locations from 17,494 individual surface drifter trajectories and spanning a time period between 1979 and 2013 are used on adrift.org.au. The drifter geolocations are available every 6 hours, and more than 85% of the ocean surface has had more than 100 location fixes per 1° x 1° degree grid cell during that 34 year period (van Sebille et al., 2011). See Figure 2 for an example of the density of drifter trajectories.

The buoys are deployed with a drogue centered at 15m depth, which is there to make the buoys less prone to windage effects and hence more closely follow the (upper-ocean) Ekman transport. However, many buoys lose their drogue at some point, affecting their paths (Grodsky et al., 2011; Poulain et al., 2009).

Within the data set used here, 48% of all data used is of buoys with a drogue and 52% is of buoys without a drogue, making the data representative for anything that drifts in the upper 15m of the ocean. Maximenko et al. (2012) showed that although the details of the pathways of drogued and undrogued buoys are different, the evolution of the two types of buoys is similar on longer timescales and larger spatial scales. Furthermore, it can be argued that neutrally buoyant particles that constantly change depth within the mixed layer will have pathways that are a mix of both the drogued and undrogued buoys."

Here is a link to Oceanographer's Eric Van Sebille paper on this adrift tool

https://drive.google.com/open...

 
drive.google.com
 
kstaubin
Barnacles show MH370 search ‘thousands of kilometres off course’

Barnacles show MH370 search ‘thousands of kilometres off course’
 

German scientists who have analysed barnacles on a wing flap washed up in the Indian Ocean say the $140 million search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 is thousands of kilometres off course.

Researchers from the Geomar Helmholtz Centre for Ocean ­Research in Kiel were expected to propose last night the search area be shifted closer to the equator from the southern Indian Ocean.

Barnacles attached to a Boeing 777 wing part found in late July do not live in the 120,000sq km area where the search is focused, ­according to the research. The scientists will suggest they must have become attached further north than where Australian and other international experts calculate that MH370 came down.

They have concluded the particular barnacle growths attached to the 2m long flaperon — the wing control flap found on the French Indian Ocean island of Reunion — have localised marine habitations situated well north of the search area in the eastern equatorial Indian Ocean.

The researchers will produce fresh modelling of Indian Ocean currents to back their theory. So far the Australian co-ordinated search has scoured more than 60,000sq km of ocean floor much further south.

The Germans have relied on photographs of the wreckage found on Reunion to identify the barnacles. They claim that the French investigation team that has the part in its possession has denied their requests for samples.

The search for MH370, which disappeared with 239 people on board on March 8 last year on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to ­Beijing, relies almost entirely on satellite data evidence that it reversed course and flew south for seven hours 39 minutes until its fuel ran out.

The Australian co-ordinators of the search said on Monday they remained confident the wing part was likely to be from the aircraft, despite French investi­gators having failed to establish that it belonged to MH370.

The French Bureau of Investigation and Analysis is seeking information from subcontractors in Spain and elsewhere to identify the flaperon. While identifying the flaperon as undoubtedly from a Boeing 777, the investigators have been unable to match it fully with details of repairs to the MH370 wing that were logged by the airline.

The Times