Archive for June 3rd, 2010

BP oil slick could hit East Coast in weeks: gov’t scientists

June 3rd, 2010 No comments

BY Helen Kennedy


A map predicting just how far north and how into the Atlantic the oil spill could reach.

The BP oil slick could hit the east coast in weeks and will likely soon spread across thousands of miles of Atlantic shoreline, government scientists reported Thursday.

The model shows New England and the mid Atlantic states, including New York and New Jersey, escaping unscathed.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research released a disturbing computer animation showing tendrils of oil coiling like snake in the Gulf of Mexico, winding around Key West into the Gulf Stream, shooting up to North Carolina and then spreading east towards Europe.

Scientists at the federally funded center stressed their animation was only one scenario of what might happen, and is based on the behavior of dye in water, not oil.

“This is not a forecast, but rather, it illustrates a likely dispersal pathway of the oil for roughly four months following the spill,” the agency said in a statement.

But it is a sobering – and dire – warning to southern East Coast beaches that may end up sharing the fate of Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida’s panhandle.

“I’ve had a lot of people ask me, ‘Will the oil reach Florida?'” says NCAR scientist Synte Peacock, who worked on the study. “Actually, our best knowledge says the scope of this environmental disaster is likely to reach far beyond Florida, with impacts that have yet to be understood.”

BP’s latest effort to divert some of the millions of gallons of crude flowing into the Gulf of Mexico from the blown-out well was not going well. BP managed to cut through a broken pipe with giant underwater shears after a diamond-tipped saw got stuck, but the cut was jagged.

Placing a cap over the gusher will now be more challenging, said Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen. The cap will be lowered later Thursday, and only then will it become clear how much oil BP might be able to siphon to a tanker on the surface.

The irregular cut means the cap won’t fit as snugly as officials had hoped, suggesting much of the oil will keep leaking into the sea.

“We’ll have to see when we get the containment cap on it just how effective it is,” Allen said. Florida Gov. Charlie Crist said oil was spotted within four miles of the Panhandle coast and state officials pulled down a tourism ad campaign claiming the “coast is clear.”

The Obama administration presented BP with a first bill for cleanup thus far. The total? $69 million.

This animation shows one scenario of how oil released at the location of the Deepwater Horizon disaster on April 20 in the Gulf of Mexico may move in the upper 65 feet of the ocean. This is not a forecast, but rather, it illustrates a likely dispersal pathway of the oil for roughly four months following the spill. It assumes oil spilling continuously from April 20 to June 20. The colors represent a dilution factor ranging from red (most concentrated) to beige (most diluted). The dilution factor does not attempt to estimate the actual barrels of oil at any spot; rather, it depicts how much of the total oil from the source that will be carried elsewhere by ocean currents. For example, areas showing a dilution factor of 0.01 would have one-hundredth the concentration of oil present at the spill site.
The animation is based on a computer model simulation, using a virtual dye, that assumes weather and current conditions similar to those that occur in a typical year. It is one of a set of six scenarios released today that simulate possible pathways the oil might take under a variety of oceanic conditions. Each of the six scenarios shows the same overall movement of oil through the Gulf to the Atlantic and up the East Coast. However, the timing and fine-scale details differ, depending on the details of the ocean currents in the Gulf. (Visualization by Tim Scheitlin and Mary Haley, NCAR; based on model simulations.)


Glider Ops for today

June 3rd, 2010 No comments

Figure 1. Here is a zoom into the Florida Shelf in the vicinity of RU21 and UD134. Its the same HyCOM currents and satellite SST as in the previous post. RU21 is seeing currents to the west, a current we are fighting to get back onto the shelf.  It looks like our exit strategy here will be a loop to the southeast.  UD134 is seeing currents presently to the southwest as it works its way north.  HyCOM says UD134 should have a tail current, but that is clearly not the case.

Figure 2: Sam is heading back in.  Seeing currents around 17 cm/sec.
Figure 3. Here is the Seaglider ops area zoom. General impression of this region is mulitple smaller scale recirculation features rather than a general flow through the ops area.
Figure 4.  Now we zoom into the most recent 25 hour HF Radar currents from the National Network.  The agreement between HyCOM, the drifter and the HF radar is clear.  Innershelf currents to the east, and some spots of offshore transport.
Figure 5.  Now back to the Florida inner shelf HF Radar data from the National Network.  Here the HF radar says the inner shelf currents are heading south, while HyCOM says it is moving north.  So now we have HF Radar and gliders telling us that on this part of the shelf, the HyCOM model is getting the current direction wrong.

Surface Analysis – HyCOM is Back!

June 3rd, 2010 No comments

Figure 1. We start today with the new NOAA 24-hour oil slick forecast.  Major part of the spill remains in the region between the Deepwater Horizon site and the coasts to the north and west.   The oil slick also extends to the southeast towards Florida, moving around the outer edge of the Loop Current Eddy, moving up onto the Florida outer shelf west of Tampa, continuing south along the outer shelf for about 200 miles before moving off the shelf around the southern side of the Loop Current Eddy.    The Horizon Marine drifters provide an important spatial picture. The part of the major spill area near the Deepwater Horizon site has a drifter in the flow that is feeding the Florida slick. Another drifter is in the deepwater section of the southeastward flowing slick just offshore the Florida shelf break. Two gliders were deployed in the part of the Florida slick that is on the shelf.  And far to the south, the Horizon Marine drifter that was near 24 N, 86 W, has made a critical turn to the right.  It appears that this drifter that is ahead of oil slick is setting up for another lap around the Loop Current Eddy.

Figure 2: Here we again cheat with a Navy layer of in water data.   On the southern side of the Loop Current Eddy, a Navy drifter (purple) is just ahead of the Horizon marine drifter, making it a second drifter that is setting up for another lap.  Farther north around 28 N and west of the oil spill the two Navy gliders (green and yellow) are approaching each other. Just to their south is a clockwise rotating eddy outlined by 2 Horizon Marine drifters.  iRobot/APL Seaglider remains near the spill surrounded by Navy drifters (purple). On the east side of the Loop Current Eddy, we see a broad region where water is moving up onto the shelf as indicated by the purple Navy drifter.

Figure 3:  HyCOM forecasts are back in the google earth interface. Here is today’s HyCOM surface current (black arrows) and surface temperature (color fill).  The prominent feature is that nearly all the water on the southeast side of the Loop Current Eddy recirculates.  Virtually nothing gets entrained in the Loop Current as it is exiting the Gulf.  Continuing clockwise around the Gulf, the clockwise eddy just south of the Navy gliders is well defined.  On the eastern side of the Loop Current Eddy, we see the region where water moves up onto the shelf, makes the clockwise loop on the shelf, heads south and off the shelf, rejoining the circulation.

Figure 4: Here we leave the HyCOM currents (black arrows) in place, and replace the modeled surface temperature with the satellite-observed sea surface temperature.  Looking at the Loop Current entering the Gulf, the sst appears to say that there may be even more separation between the Loop Current and the Loop Current Eddy than implied by HyCOM. As the Loop Current exits the Gulf, it hugs the shelf break in the model and the satellite imagery, giving us more confidence that the Loop Current is not moving up onto the Florida shelf just before it exits.   Just south of the Navy gliders, the satellite SST is consistent with the existence of the clockwise eddy. And back around to the east, the interaction with the shelf break looks to be well represented in the HyCOM model and the SST.


Update from the Mote team deploying RU23

June 3rd, 2010 No comments

It has been at least 3-weeks since we had rain off Sarasota.  At this moment, as RU23 is being deployed, there is a storm sitting over the deployment site.  It is bad enough to warrant a special marine warning for water spouts!  See attached figures.  Seems like a good omen to me.


Gary J. Kirkpatrick, Ph.D.
Senior Scientist
Mote Marine Laboratory


PBS Report – BP Setbacks Mount as Cut and Cap Attempt Stalls in Gulf

June 3rd, 2010 No comments

Glider data June 3 2010

June 3rd, 2010 No comments

Gliders make good progress.  We currently have 6 gliders in the water with the successful launch of the UDel Blue Hen. We have them distributed in many strategic positions.  The current plan will have Mote team leaving the docks for the deployment of a second Rutgers glider around an early lunch time today.  Horizon Marine and Scripps gliders are slated to join the team in the next few days.

Looking at the oil forecast, we currently have the gliders well positioned.  This is especially true given the updated pictures which show the heavy loads around the Lousiana, with recent media reports confirming oil seen at Mississippi and Alabama.  There is also the regions of oil associated with the Loop current.

The NAVO gliders show ineresting pictures.  CDOM and chlorophyll show some basic features.  CDOM is high at depth, and the chlorophyll shows a subsurface maximum.  In contrast the optical backscatter shows very dramatic features at depth.  The turbid layers are 100s of meters thick.  What is it?  It does not appear to be phytoplankton.  Is it oil?  I do not see how this sensor would measure oil as I would expect hydrocarbons to absorb light not scatter light.  Maybe florescence?  Again while I am not an expert, I do not think there are major fluorescence emission bands (of course this will need to be checked). Is it animals?  Possible, the complexity would be consistent with this; however again this would be a novel finding.  Is it sediment or silt?  If this was the case these are some amazing plumes. Discrete samples would be very informative!

Seaglider continues its successful survey.  The patterns observed the last few days remain consistent.  A stratified system, with complex CDOM patterns especially at depth.  Chlorophyll is highest in the surface waters.

The Florida team is filling out. SAM makes good progress back up on the shelf.  Stratified system, with dramatic subsurface chlorophyll and particle maximums.  The optical backscatter shows some layers  just below the surface.  The CDOM seems to spatial correlated with the optical backscatter.

RU21 is slowly fighting its way out of the eddy.  We see similar patterns as seen  over the last week. One difference is that the subsurface particle maximum appears to have disappeared as we have been advected to the south.

The Blue Hen joins the Florida region and will patrol the Florida Keys area.  Great work to the Mote team for the deployment yesterday!  Despite being shallow, there are indications of stratification.  CDOM and chlorophyll show the subsurface maximum.  We will see head to the cross-calibration waypoint to meet up with Ru21.


Google Crisis Response – Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

June 3rd, 2010 1 comment

Google Earth files (download these KML files and view them in Google Earth)


ROFFS Oceanographic Analysis Oil Update 02 June 2010

June 3rd, 2010 No comments