As oil exploration moves into
deeper water, capital risk is increasing and so is the criticality
of predicting the circulation regime that vessels, rigs, and platforms
will have to contend with. SPOC, for “Sistema de Previsão
Oceânica e Costeira,” is intended to provide such prediction for
the southeastern Brazilian shelf, a region of offshore petroleum
reserves of still unmeasured extentt.
The Brazilian national research foundation, Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento
Científico, has awarded SMAST Prof. Avijit Gangopadhyay and
his Brazilian collaborator, Prof. Ilson da Silveira of the
University of Sao Paulo, a two-year grant to develop a prototype
The proposed modeling system will employ so-called “feature-oriented” methodology
to generate the most detailed circulation predictions for
an area which is lacking in ocean observations. Gangopadhyay,
along with Allan Robinson of Harvard, has led the development
of feature-oriented modeling.
Numerical ocean models rely on the coverage of the ocean basin of interest by
actual physical measurements. FORMS (feature-oriental regional
modeling system) technology modulates this expensive requirement
by incorporating persistent features (currents, eddies, jets,
etc.) of the basin circulation, as identified by satellite
remote sensing. The result is a very efficient means of simulating
the dynamics of an ocean basin with a paucity of available
Silveira and Gangopadhyay have been laying the groundwork for SPOC for several
years, involving not only their respective universities,
but also the Brazilian Navy, and the Brazilian oil company
Petrobras. The Brazilian Navy, which will operate SPOC once
it is operational, will begin sending personnel to SMAST
for training in 2007.
The Oceanographic Modeling and Analysis Laboratory is involved
in applying FORMS models to ocean basins around the world.
To date, FORMS has been applied to the western North Atlantic
(including the Gulf of Maine/Georges Bank region), Monterey
Bay and the California Current system, the Strait of Sicily,
and the Arabian Sea.