Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Winds played important role in keeping oil away from South Florida

Date:
July 9, 2012
Source:
University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science
Summary:
Winds played an important role in keeping oil from the Gulf oil spill away from South Florida.

In a new study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, a team from the University of Miami, Colorado School of Mines and Naval Research Laboratory used numerical simulations to explain the crucial role of the wind-induced surface drift on the fate of the oil in the Gulf of Mexico. This drift was found to have a strong influence on the displacement of oil, accounting for the influence of winds on the top surface of ocean waters through the generation of waves and additional circulation. These particular wind effects are generally not represented in ocean circulation models and were missing from real time ocean circulation predictions during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. This figure shows a comparison between the satellite-observed (left) and the modeled (right) oil slick extent on June 7, 2010.
Credit: NASA-MODIS (Left)/ Univ. of South Florida (right)

he Deepwater Horizon oil spill in spring 2010 is the largest oil spill in the history of the United States, with more than 200 million gallons of crude oil released at about 1,500 m. depth off the Mississippi Delta in the Gulf of Mexico. At the time of the accident, the proximity of the intense Loop Current, flowing from the Yucatan Channel to the Florida Straits, raised major concerns that the oil at the surface of the ocean would be headed toward the South Florida and East Atlantic coastal areas. However, the dominant transport of oil and oil products was toward the Northern Gulf coastline, and no oil was observed to reach the Atlantic Ocean.

In a new study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, University of Miami (UM) scientists Matthieu Le Hénaff, Villy Kourafalou, Claire Paris, Judith Helgers, and Ashwanth Srinivasan, in collaboration with Zachary Aman from the Colorado School of Mines, and Patrick Hogan from the Naval Research Laboratory, use numerical simulations performed at the High Performance Computing core of UM's Center for Computational Science (CCS) to explain an important aspect of the observed oil transport.

The group has demonstrated the crucial role of the wind-induced surface drift on the fate of the oil in the Gulf of Mexico. This drift was found to have a strong influence on the displacement of oil, accounting for the influence of winds on the top surface of ocean waters through the generation of waves and additional circulation. These particular wind effects are generally not represented in ocean circulation models and were missing from real time ocean circulation predictions during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Incorporating this wind effect to the ocean currents, the UM scientists performed a novel 3D modeling study of the oil's spread from the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico to the ocean's surface, which allowed a realistic representation of the evolution of the 2010 oil spill. The oil spill simulations were verified through observational composites from UM's Center for Southeastern Tropical Advanced Remote Sensing (CSTARS) and from Roffer's Ocean Fishing Forecasting System, and benefited from regional circulation models that assimilate real ocean data; no change in the oil spill extent took place to match observations. Results from this study showed that the model simulation including the wind-induced drift led to substantially improved results over an identical simulation that excluded wind drift effects.

"It is striking to notice how a large part of the surface oil erroneously made it to the Atlantic coast of Florida in the simulations that ignored the wind-induced drift. The simulation taking the drift into account correctly calculated the final destination of the oil along the Northern Gulf coastline, in remarkable agreement with observations," says Le Hénaff, a research scientist at the UM Rosenstiel School, who is also affiliated with NOAA's Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies (CIMAS). "The dominant northward winds during spring and summer of 2010 led the surface oil to be pushed onto the Northern Gulf shelf areas and toward the coasts, away from the interior of the Gulf and the Loop Current southward transport. This effect, together with the evolution of the Loop Current, was crucial in maintaining the oil from the Deepwater Horizon rig within the Gulf of Mexico and away from the South Florida coral reefs and beaches."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Matthieu Le Hénaff, Vassiliki H. Kourafalou, Claire B. Paris, Judith Helgers, Zachary M. Aman, Patrick J. Hogan, Ashwanth Srinivasan. Surface Evolution of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Patch: Combined Effects of Circulation and Wind-Induced Drift. Environmental Science & Technology, 2012; 46 (13): 7267 DOI: 10.1021/es301570w

Cite This Page:

University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science. "Winds played important role in keeping oil away from South Florida." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 July 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120709133554.htm>.
University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science. (2012, July 9). Winds played important role in keeping oil away from South Florida. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120709133554.htm
University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science. "Winds played important role in keeping oil away from South Florida." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120709133554.htm (accessed September 22, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Monday, September 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Hundreds of Thousands Hit NYC Streets to Protest Climate Change

Hundreds of Thousands Hit NYC Streets to Protest Climate Change

AFP (Sep. 22, 2014) — Celebrities, political leaders and the masses rallied in New York and across the globe demanding urgent action on climate change, with organizers saying 600,000 people hit the streets. Duration: 01:19 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Inside London's Massive Sewer Tunnel Project

Inside London's Massive Sewer Tunnel Project

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) — Billions of dollars are being spent on a massive super sewer to take away London's vast output of waste, which is endangering the River Thames. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Washed-Up 'Alien Hairballs' Are Actually Algae

Washed-Up 'Alien Hairballs' Are Actually Algae

Newsy (Sep. 22, 2014) — Green balls of algae washed up on Sydney, Australia's Dee Why Beach. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Was The Biggest Climate March In History Underreported?

Was The Biggest Climate March In History Underreported?

Newsy (Sep. 22, 2014) — The People's Climate March in New York City drew more than 300,000 people, possibly a record-breaking number. Was the march underreported? Video provided by Newsy
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