Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Gulf of Mexico oil spill in the Loop Current

Date:
May 19, 2010
Source:
European Space Agency
Summary:
Scientists monitoring the U.S. oil spill with the European Space Agency's Envisat radar satellite say that it has entered the Loop Current, a powerful conveyor belt that flows clockwise around the Gulf of Mexico towards Florida.

In this Envisat Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR) image, acquired on 15 May 2010, advanced processing methods have been performed to display ocean surface roughness variations and Doppler-derived ocean surface radial velocities around the oil spill area in the Gulf of Mexico. The oil spill (outlined in white) is seen stretching toward the Loop Current (red arrow).
Credit: CLS

Scientists monitoring the U.S. oil spill with the European Space Agency's Envisat radar satellite say that it has entered the Loop Current, a powerful conveyor belt that flows clockwise around the Gulf of Mexico towards Florida.

"With these images from space, we have visible proof that at least oil from the surface of the water has reached the current," said Dr Bertrand Chapron of Ifremer, the French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea.

Dr Chapron and Dr Fabrice Collard of France's CLS have been combining surface roughness and current flow information with Envisat Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR) data of the area to monitor the proximity of the oil to the current.

In the ASAR image above, acquired on 18 May, a long tendril of the oil spill (outlined in white) extends down into the Loop Current (red arrow).

"We performed advanced processing methods on the images to display surface features like variations in roughness and velocity, which provides insight into the spatial structure of the spill and its transport by surface currents," Dr Collard explained.

From the ASAR images of 12 May and 15 May, the oil spill was observed stretching increasingly closer to the Loop Current, raising concerns that it could reach the current and be carried south towards coral reefs in the Florida Keys.

"Now that oil has entered the Loop Current, it is likely to reach Florida within six days," Dr Chapron said. "Since Envisat ASAR, ERS-2 and other SAR satellites are systematically planned to acquire data over the area, we will monitor the situation continuously."

The scientists warn however that since the Loop Current is a very intense, deep ocean current, its turbulent waters will accelerate the mixing of the oil and water in the coming days.

"This might remove the oil film on the surface and prevent us from tracking it with satellites, but the pollution is likely to affect the coral reef marine ecosystem," Dr Collard said.

Combined efforts using satellite imagery and in-situ measurements of collected water samples will help to assess whether oil is in the deep waters of the ocean.

The Loop Current joins the Gulf Stream -- the northern hemisphere's most important ocean-current system -- sparking fears that oil could enter this system and be carried up to the US East Coast.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by European Space Agency. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

European Space Agency. "Gulf of Mexico oil spill in the Loop Current." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 May 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100519112721.htm>.
European Space Agency. (2010, May 19). Gulf of Mexico oil spill in the Loop Current. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100519112721.htm
European Space Agency. "Gulf of Mexico oil spill in the Loop Current." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100519112721.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Observation Boat to Protect Cetaceans During Ship Transfer

Observation Boat to Protect Cetaceans During Ship Transfer

AFP (July 22, 2014) As part of the 14-ship convoy that will accompany the Costa Concordia from the port of Giglio to the port of Genoa, there will be a boat carrying experts to look out for dolphins and whales from crossing the path of the Concordia. Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts

New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts

AP (July 21, 2014) New Orleans is the first U.S. city to participate in a large-scale recycling effort for cigarette butts. The city is rolling out dozens of containers for smokers to use when they discard their butts. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

AP (July 21, 2014) A rise in shark sightings along the shores of Chatham, Massachusetts is driving a surge of eager vacationers to the beach town looking to catch a glimpse of a great white. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Spectacular Lightning Storm Hits London

Spectacular Lightning Storm Hits London

AFP (July 19, 2014) A spectaCular lightning storm struck the UK overnight Friday. Images of lightning strikes over the Shard and Tower Bridge in central London. Duration: 00:23 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins