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BioCast: Bio-Optical Forecasting of Biogeochemical Dispersion

The US Navy seeks a partner to license and commercialize a powerful 3-D system to forecast the location of chemical, biological, and biogeochemical material in the ocean

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 Regional (top) and local (bottom) forecasts of oil from the Deep Horizons spill as predicted by the US Navy’s BioCast system.
Regional (top) and local (bottom) forecasts of oil from the Deep Horizons spill as predicted by the US Navy’s BioCast system.
The Technology: 

The US Naval Research Laboratory at Stennis Space Center has developed, validated, and patented the Bio-Optical Forecasting System (BioCast). BioCast is a software system to make accurate short-term predictions regarding the location of various materials in the ocean, including oil spills, organics and biological organisms such as phytoplankton, and suspended inorganic solids. The software runs on a typical laptop computer and operates based on two data inputs: 1) Geospatial calculations from ocean circulation models, and 2) ocean color data available from satellite or other remote imaging platforms.

BioCast has been validated by predicting the spread of oil from the Deepwater Horizons spill as well as water clarity for the 2013 Trident Warrior Naval exercise. The system provides excellent forecasts for a 24 hour period, yields useful predictions out to 96 hours, and can be updated as frequently as new data is available. The underlying calculations utilize Eulerian mathematics that yield three-dimensional material transport, weathering (transformation), and potential changes in buoyancy. The Eulerian calculations and the incorporation of mass conservation features lead to a positive definite solution, meaning the system is mathematically robust and will not crash due to data inconsistencies.

Additional Information

  • Powerful & Versatile:  Efficiently provides 3-D dispersal predictions for virtually any artificial and natural organic, inorganic, biological, chemical, and biogeochemical material from ocean physics model data
  • Robust:  Corrects input data discrepancies and iteratively constrains to continuity to ensure mathematical integrity and prevent numerical instability
  • Broadly Applicable:  Useful for forecasting the movement of biologicals, the impact of weather events, and assessing the potential of natural and human-caused disasters; specific applications include fishing forecasts, diving and recreational water quality predictions, and disaster response
The Opportunity: 
  • Published US Patent Application 2013/0304430 and software code are available for license
  • Potential for collaboration with US Naval Research Laboratory, Stennis Space Center researchers