Climate conditions can affect attacks at sea, new research has found
Research conducted by ACU's Dr Duncan Cook and Ms Sally Garrett from the Defence Technology Agency of New Zealand, suggests that weather patterns have a measurable effect on the activity of Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea, particularly during the Northern Hemisphere summer. The research has found the summer monsoon to be a significant deterrent to pirate attacks, which are an ongoing threat to international shipping and maritime security in the region.
Dr Cook and Ms Garrett's recent publication, Somali Piracy and the Monsoon, provides the first detailed analysis of the weather and ocean conditions during recent pirate attacks in the Indian Ocean region. There has been very little direct scientific monitoring of the region in recent years, partly due to the extent of maritime piracy, so the researchers observed the wind and wave conditions of individual pirate attacks via satellites from the safety of space.
"It is the high winds and rough seas of the summer monsoon that have proved to be the toughest anti-piracy measure in recent years," said Dr Cook. "Our research suggests that the transition of the summer monsoon limits maritime piracy. It also considers the role of non-climatic causes for the hiatus in piracy over the summer months."
Dr Cook and Ms Garrett's research has gained international media coverage, and is providing new data to assist anti-piracy operations in the ocean region east of Africa. Most recently the results from have been incorporated into military briefings for Royal New Zealand Navy's HMNZS Te Kaha, as part of the multinational taskforce fighting piracy in the region.
'Somali Piracy and the Monsoon' was recently published in the journal Weather, Climate, and Society.