Pirates scuttle climate research off Somali coast

Climate researchers hoping to collect monsoonal wind data off the Somali coast have been thwarted. Flickr

Somali pirates roaming the seas in the Gulf of Aden have claimed another victim: climate research.

Climate scientists hoping to collect data on monsoonal wind patterns off the Somali coast have been thwarted by the dangers posed by regional piracy, according to a report in Eos, a publication of the American Geophysical Union.

“The data void exists in the formation region of the Somali low-level jet, a wind pattern that is one of the main drivers of the Indian summer monsoon,” Shawn R. Smith of the Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies at Florida State University wrote.

“Further, a stable, multidecadal record has been interrupted, and consequently, long-term analyses of the jet derived from surface wind data are now showing artificial anomalies that will affect efforts by scientists to identify interannual to decadal variations in the climate of the northwestern Indian Ocean.”

Pirates have ransomed hundreds of hostages and looted countless boats in the Gulf of Aden in the last five years, with most ships avoiding the Somali coast altogether.