I loved this story today in the Seattle Times newspaper, about a presentation to a conference of 3500 scientists in the American Meteorological Society, by Jim Hansen. Hansen is an applied mathematician at the Naval Research Laboratory in Monterey, California. Mr. Hansen’s weather forecast: A Chance of Pirates.
Taking advantage of advances in computing power and in predictive modeling, Mr. Hansen is creating models of weather, ship traffic, Pirate tendencies, and other variables, as a way to predict where Pirate activity might occur. The weather matters, because today’s Pirates tend to operate in small boats that need relatively calm weather to be effective.
The hope is that by integrating even better data about weather, and satellite data on ship locations including real-time visual tracking, a model might be built that will predict where Pirate activity is most likely. Turns out this is hard, in big oceans. Knowing just the general area where Pirates are working is not sufficient to direct naval responses that prevent attacks.