Meteorology on board: weather forecast at seaMeteorology on board: weather forecast at sea

Learn about the work of the Brazilian Navy’s meteorologists during naval operations

By First Lieutenant (RM2-T) Thaís Cerqueira – Rio de Janeiro, RJ

While we are used to consulting weather forecasting apps and obtaining information quickly and easily, the meteorologists who work on board Brazilian Navy (MB) ships deal with the complexity of ocean conditions in real time. On board warships, research ships and other vessels, the work carried out by these professionals is essential to the success of operations at sea.

“Weather forecasting is extremely important, as the marine environment can be extremely hostile in bad weather, resulting in severe material damage and even loss of life,” explains Lieutenant David Christian de Lima Ferreira.

David currently serves in the Navy’s Hydrography Center. During his career in the Navy, he has worked as a meteorological officer on board the “Defensora” Frigate, the “Júlio de Noronha” Corvette and the “Vital de Oliveira” Hydroceanographic Research Vessel; he has taken part in missions on the “Atlântico” Multipurpose Aerodrome Ship (NAM), as well as having done an exchange on the “Cuauhtémoc” Buque-Escuela ship, of the Mexican Navy.

There are many environmental factors that can influence or compromise the conduct of an operation at sea, so meteorologists work with a large volume of data, such as satellite images, synoptic charts, maps with computer numerical models, observations collected at fixed stations, vessels and buoys, among others.

“During an MB mission, the schedule of activities is usually quite extensive and diverse, involving different levels of risk. Therefore, from the planning stage, the meteorologist can indicate the best time of year for the commission to be conducted, thus minimizing exposure to the risk of violent storms,” explains the Commander of the Hydroceanographic Research Vessel “Vital de Oliveira”, Frigate Captain Leandro dos Santos Novaes.

The work of these weather professionals continues throughout the mission. A thin layer of clouds at a certain altitude, if not detected, can prevent the visualization of a luminous target in a firing exercise, resulting in wasted time and material. For this reason, the evolution of weather conditions in the areas of interest is constantly monitored, so that forecasts can be refined as much as possible.

Challenges of the profession

There are a number of difficulties inherent in the life of a serviceman who works on board ships, such as the distance from his family. In addition, meteorologists have to deal with the stress of producing reliable forecasts, as First Lieutenant (Technical Staff) Rafael Fernandes Pereira recalls.
“There is the psychological pressure of knowing that the result of our work, which is good decision-making advice for the Command, will have a direct and indirect impact on the fate of dozens or hundreds of people every day,” he says.

On October 14, the date on which Meteorologist Day is celebrated, First Lieutenant Rafael also recalls moments when his weather forecast played a decisive role in the success of the mission. “In Antarctica, the weather forecast is always crucial for crossing the Drake Strait, where waves of over 10 meters are often observed. I could also mention the time that, due to the forecast of winds of more than 100 kilometers per hour, the refueling of the Comandante Ferraz Antarctic Station was brought forward, which proved to be the right decision shortly afterwards.”

Watch the video and see what it’s like for a Navy ship to cross the Drake Strait:

Source: Agência Marinha de Notícias *** Translated by the DEFCONPress FYI Team ***

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