Advisor: Dr. Hauke Kite Powell, Marine Policy Center
Project: Economic Benefits of QuikSCAT Information for the Maritime Shipping Industry
Related NOAA Strategic Plan Goal:
Goal 4. Support the Nation’s commerce with information for safe, efficient, and environmentally sound transportation.
Summary of Accomplishments
Hurricane force extratropical storms pose dangerous threats to life and property at sea. Prior to the availability of QuikSCAT ocean surface wind information in 2001, the occurrence of hurricane force extratropical storms were underestimated by the conventional ocean observing systems such as the Voluntary Observing Ship (VOS) program and moored buoys. The incorporation of QuikSCAT information into the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s daily operations and forecasting has greatly reduced uncertainty on the frequency and geographic position of hurricane force extratropical storms. Consequently, wind warnings and forecasts for mariners engaged in commerce, transportation, and recreation are more accurate. The economic value of additional QuikSCAT information was estimated by modeling the likelihood that transits across the North Atlantic and North Pacific Oceans encounter hurricane force storms. The model simulates transits with four varying levels of information: no information or “blind”, nowcast issued at both 12 and 6 hour intervals, and perfect forecast. Perfect forecasts yield the most substantial reduction in the percentage of transits encountering a storm, virtually by 100% for both the North Atlantic and North Pacific. Nowcasts issued at both hourly intervals yield some, but much less substantial reductions in the percentage of transits encountering storms, on average between 1 to 3%. The substantial difference between nowcast and perfect forecast results may be due to the currently oversimplified model. Nonetheless, reductions in the percentage of transits in storms reduce cargo liability costs and container replacement costs. Perfect forecasts may potentially yield $720 million in savings per year for the maritime container shipping industry alone. Further savings may be realized in the maritime tanker and dry bulk industries as well as other users of QuikSCAT information such as coastal communities.