How a Piece of Flight 370 Drifted 2,300 Miles

WORLD

Indian Ocean debris moves in predictable patterns, and the discovery confirms searchers are looking in the right place for the missing Malaysian plane. (Nat Geo News)

Learn more about “The Geography of Ocean Currents” with our activity.

Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources, including today’s MapMaker Interactive map, in our Teachers’ Toolkit.

Note: Current Event Connections is slowing down for the summer. Our column will continue to appear once or twice a week until mid-August. If you have an idea for a Current Event Connection, a recommendation for a good read, or want to share one of your MapMaker Interactive maps, let us know in the comments!

Use today’s MapMaker Interactive map to follow the mystery of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370. Uncover the flight path and debris with markers in our first bookmark, and experiment with layers to better understand how currents, ocean depths, and sea-surface temperatures may influence search efforts.

Use today’s MapMaker Interactive map to follow the mystery of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370. Uncover the flight path and debris with markers in our first bookmark, and experiment with layers to better understand how currents, ocean depths, and sea-surface temperatures may influence search efforts.

Discussion Ideas
Read through our activity “The Geography of Ocean Currents.” Adapt its first set of questions to the Nat Geo News article.

 

  • What factors do you think affect ocean currents?
    • Wind and sea-surface temperatures influence the flow of ocean currents.
      • In addition, according to Nat Geo News, currents can be impacted by “micro-changes” such as storms, unusual atmospheric activity, and seasonal fluctuations, such as the powerful southeast Asian monsoon.

 

  • Debris from Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 was recently recovered on a beach on Reunion Island. The debris assured searchers they are looking in the right area for the downed plane. They are searching about 2,012 kilometers (1,250 miles) southwest of Perth, Australia. In what direction do you think debris from Flight 370 drifted? Take a look at today’s MapMaker Interactive map for a general idea about the enormous search zone and ocean currents in bookmark 2.
    • Debris followed a predictable counter-clockwise path, following the warm currents of the Indian Ocean.
      • The currents are so familiar that one expert, interviewed by Nat Geo News, accurately predicted that debris from Flight 370 would show up in Madagascar a year after the plane’s disappearance. (As it turns out, the debris bumped into the French island of Reunion before it could reach Madagascar.)

 

 

  • How does the discovery of the Boeing 777 debris influence the search for Flight 370?
    • Oceanographers, engineers, and climatologists were able to accurately predict the flow of debris from the general search area a year ago. Recovery of at least one piece of debris confirms that searchers are looking in the right place.

 

  • What are searchers’ next steps?
    • Keep looking in the same area—a huge, stormy, isolated area of the Indian Ocean. Learn more about the recovery effort here.
    • At least one oceanographer encourages searchers to comb the beaches of Reunion Island, Madagascar, and East African countries such as Tanzania, Mozambique, and South Africa. According to Nat Geo News, “One truism of aircraft investigations is this: If one piece of debris is found, there will be others.”

 

TEACHERS’ TOOLKIT

Nat Geo: How a Piece of Malaysian Flight 370 Drifted 2,300 Miles article

Nat Geo: The Geography of Ocean Currents activity

Nat Geo: Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 map

Nat Geo: What is an ocean gyre? encyclopedic entry

BBC: MH370: Behind the tenacious deep-sea hunt for missing plane

One response to “How a Piece of Flight 370 Drifted 2,300 Miles

  1. Currents and water temperatures… Do these explain the seaweed invasion in the Caribbean? Some are seeing it as God’s payback for us being negligent humans, while others are suggesting global warming, and still others say it’s a natural phenomenon. Ideas?

    Like

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