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This question is from a user who wants to calculate the predicted path of a bottle dropped from a ship. He has a spreadsheet of hundreds of these bottles and wishes to display the predicted vs actual landing points of the bottles.

Is there a publicly-accessible model which will show the predicted path of an object, anywhere in the earth's oceans?

For example, NOAA published a series of maps during the Gulf of Mexico oil crisis, showing the predicted path of the oil spill.

I'm presuming that this is a fairly specialised branch of GI-science and the answer will be that such a model depends highly on local variations, the date, wind and other weather conditions, etc.

As a next-best option, is information on the general patterns of the ocean currents publicly accessible in a GIS-ready format? It may be possible to create a geoprocessing model from this?

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

Here is a demo from the Esri Site

and here is the GP model that is used

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Looks spot on - thanks! There seems to be some flaws in the example (eg the icon is missing) but I'll have a play around and see if I can get it working. – Stephen Lead Nov 29 '11 at 1:10

It is actually a whole segment of physical oceanography, with the ocean circulation modelling generally done in matlab. The particular models involved are much more relational than spatially explicit, making them more suited to matlab than gis packages.

If you have access to a physical oceanographer, I would highly suggest asking them about this problem. As a secondary suggestion, ESRI's new chief scientist, Dawn Wright, has a coastal and oceans focus and can be very directly helpful. Maybe try asking her on twitter or via email about a good source for this problem?

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Thanks, I figured as much. The above GP example is good enough for my friend's project, which is really just a bit of fun from a guy with too much time on his hands :) – Stephen Lead Nov 29 '11 at 1:11

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