Reducing emissions by planning better
Seamen must be the first group of people who had an extensive knowledge of the weather. They recognised cloud formations and variations in wind speed that indicated the weather change. At sea, this knowledge could mean the difference between life and death.
Today, a weather forecast is not made with a keen eye but with all kind of technologies like satellites and weather sensors. Nowadays, forecasts still save lives at sea, but also a lot of fuel. That is good news for the environment.
Dutch company MeteoGroup is some kind of all-seeing eye when it comes to weather. They can tell you what are the chances that it is going to rain in Manila in five days or how windy it is going be on the beaches of Portugal next weekend.
What the company also knows is that a reliable weather forecast has a lot of commercial value. They sell their knowledge to media companies who provide it to the general public. MeteoGroup also makes reports for specific groups – for example, a farmer is interested in the information when it is going to rain and a captain wants to know if he sails into a storm.
“We serve a different kind of clients”, says Paul van Vessem from MeteoGroup. For the maritime industry, the company developed several products.
“We focus on safety, monitoring and control and performance.”
One of the company’s products is called RouteGuard. This provides a captain, owner or vessel manager the most efficient route to sail based on the weather information.“RouteGuard allows you to plan pre-voyage, adapt during the trip and analyse post-voyage.”
If a ship leaves the port of Rotterdam with the destination New York, it sails according to the most efficient route that can be made at that moment. But a lot can change after a vessel departs from a port.
It is possible that the ship sails direct into a low-pressure area where she faces strong headwinds. To avoid the bad weather the ship can slow down or change the route. It also can be a combination of the two.
“At MeteoGroup, we combine a lot of data with our maritime experience to form the most efficient voyage plan”, says Van Vessem.
MeteoGroup uses not only meteorological information. Other data, for example, ocean currents, tides and wave directions are also taken in consideration.
“But don’t think the most efficient route is the one without storm. Sometimes it is more efficient to sail into bad weather, as long as safety is kept in mind.”
But a big container ship can take more than a little sailboat. To give a proper advice, the data must be combined with maritime experience. That is where René Snoek comes in. He has spent almost three decades at sea and worked years as a captain. Now he is team leader Shipping Operations.