A group of researchers led by Dr Jonathan Durgadoo from the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre of Ocean Research has indicated that a study of the drift patterns of the alleged MH370 debris in the Indian Ocean has been conducted without taking into consideration some important facts that could have affected its results and led search teams to completely wrong locations.
The original study performed by GEOMAR back in 2015 led researchers to believe the MH370's remains rested on ocean bed west of Australia, north of the original search area. But according to Durgadoo, the team failed to consider the so-called "Stokes drift" effect — the changes to the "movement of floating objects caused by the passing of surface waves".
"Ignoring Stokes drift in the simulations can lead to major errors, as we have demonstrated with the MH370 example. For any application where surface drift is studied, Stokes drift should be included to provide more precise tracking results", he explained.
It was not the only reason why the GEOMAR team failed to track the debris, such as the Boeing's flaperon found on Réunion Island, back to the crash site of the plane. Durgadoo indicated that the team needed more reliable pieces that floated from the crash site towards shore, as well as extensive information about their buoyancy characteristics, to determine the precise spot.
"Unfortunately, no further information is available to us. Our current estimations suggest that, with at least five items of debris, an optimal area for the most probable crash-site region can be achieved", Professor Arne Biastoch, head of the research team at GEOMAR said.
The flaperon as well as several other pieces, allegedly belonging to the missing Boeing were found on the shores of the Indian Ocean back in 2015, but not all of them could be reliably tied to the plane. Their finding sparked a new search for the missing jet, which bore no results.
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing carrying 239 passengers on board went missing on 8 March 2014 after disappearing from radars while transferring from Malaysian to Vietnamese air space. After several years of fruitless attempts to locate the plane's crash site, the Malaysian government ended its search in May 2018, admitting that they did not know what happened to the plane.