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Main slick spreads east off Florida coast.

June 18th, 2010 No comments

Figure 1: The combination of in water assets and shore-based HF Radar is shown here.  The oil spill is split into two regions.  The northern region with the higher concentrations is hitting coastlines between Louisiana and Florida.  HF radar (the field of green and red arrows near the top) covers much of what is coming ashore near Florida and Alabama.  The oil spill in the southern region has lower concentration slicks circling in the high velocity part of the Loop Current Eddy.  Part of that spill has moved up onto the outer Florida shelf.  The HF Radars that are in place are in good locations.  Too bad we don’t have coverage for Louisiana.

Figure 2: Looking at the Sea Surface temperature maps from the satellites, we see the usual summer situation in the Gulf.  Its hard to build an automated enhancement that can pull out the Loop Current under summer conditions.  Our best bets are to check the ocean color imagery, something we started doing on on our MACOORA conference call today, and check in with Mitch Roffer on his analyses of the SST.

Figure 3: So we move over to the HyCOM model, here showing sea surface height in color and surface currents as the white arrows.  The Loop Current Eddy dominates, but the real interesting feature is the filament that has separated from the current and has now moved up onto the Florida shelf.  The drifters show how well the HyCOM model is doing.

Figure 4. Here we zoom into the two Horizon Marine drifters that were entrained by the filament, one going north and one going south, just as HyCOM model says.  The Navy drifters circulating in the middle also look like they are following the model.  The HF Radar currents nearshore are very weak today, just like the model.  The gliders continue to patrol the region between the potential edge of the spill on the outer shelf and the HF radar coverage on the inner shelf.

Figure 5:  Now lets zoom into the high concentration northern spill.  The new feature here is the clockwise hook in the oil slick in the northwest corner just off the Florida coast.  Once again, the shape of the spill is very similar to the clockwise circulation observed in the most recent 25-hour average HF Radar currents shown here.

Figure 6: Finally we overlay 3 satellite radar images provided by CSTARS at U.Miami. The oil is located in the dark regions of the image, which lines up with the NOAA oil spill forecast and the circulation features observed in the HF Radar.

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