We continue to monitor the conditions in the Gulf of Mexico and east coast of Florida. In today’s update we are using satellite data from the have combined infrared and ocean color data from June 19-22, 2010 with emphasis on what we were able to see today to provide the background image and ocean frontal analysis. Due to the lack of repeat satellite coverage when using the synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data we have combined June 17-22, 2010 data to provide a more complete view of the distribution of the surface oil shown in olive green color. The flow of the water has been derived from sequential image analysis which is in agreement with the many ocean buoys that are drifting in the currents. See NOAA’s AOML website for more drifter information (http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/phod/dhos/drifters.php), as well as, Horizon Marine’s site (http://www.horizonmarine.com/bp_buoys/). We have included maps of the drifters which verify our analyses. We have changed some labels on the main oceanographic oil graphic. We have stamped the initials “WOM” in the areas that there is likely to be some water-oil-dispersant mixture at the surface and subsurface of the ocean. We have outlined in grey the tendril that we have maintained visual contact with the water masses without major interruption. The WOM is the water in some dilute form that originated at the Deepwater Horizon oil spill site. There probably is more surface oil in the Mississippi Sound area that we have not identified due to a combination of cloud interference, lack of sun glint, and lack of SAR imagery.
The surface oil has spread to the Big Bend area of Florida near 85°00’W & 29°30-40’N. Based on the southward flow of the water we anticipate that the surface oil will move relatively slowly southward over the west Florida continental shelf until it reaches the area (approximately near 84°00’W & 26°30’N) where the influence of the Loop Current eddy “Franklin” will increase the oil’s southward velocity. When the oil reaches the area near the northern boundary of the Loop Current (near 84°00’W & 24°30’N) it appears that some of the oil will move eastward into the Florida Current and Gulf Stream, as well as, westward around the Loop Current eddy “Franklin.” The drifter buoys have shown this path as well. Some of the oil that will be moving over the west Florida continental shelf could move to the Florida Bay area as a function of the winds in that zone.
The area southwest of Tampa, FL centered near 85°45’W & 27°15’N is the center of circulation of a counter-clockwise rotating eddy. We have had substantial cloud interference over the last five days and we are not certain what happened to the eddy that was centered southeast of this new center of circulation. It is possible that the original eddy degenerated and is moving southeastward around the Loop Current eddy. The drifter buoy data show that the main circulation of the present eddy. This general area has been shown to have surface oil, globs and tar balls by researchers (NOAA_AOML, CIMAS, RSMAS) on the RV Walton Smith. The motion of this eddy along with the currents related to the Loop Current eddy are pulling the surface oil from the general area near 88°15’W & 27°45’N in a southeastward direction toward 86°00’W & 26°15’N. This motion will help keep the surface oil from moving as far westward as it has eastward. There is also offshore motion in the area centered south of Louisiana near 89°30’W & 28°00’N.
Note that the water-oil-dispersant mixture has moved in a clockwise direction around the Loop Current eddy to at least as far as 86°30’W & 25°45’N. This motion has been verified by the drifting buoys. For the drifting buoys to exactly track the path of the WOM there would have to be several buoys deployed in this water.
We have followed the dilute WOM into the Florida Current from the Florida Keys to the Gulf Stream. A dilute portion of this water has been followed in the Gulf Stream to as far north as Jacksonville, FL. We have not received any confirmed reports of any surface oil sheen or tar balls in any form in the Gulf Stream. We are currently in the turtle mating and nesting season along the Florida east coast and the importance of any oil – dispersant mixture can not be understated. Boaters in all areas should keep a keen eye open for any pollution in this area and all areas.
Remember that every fishing trip is important to use our ROFFS™ Fishing Oceanographic Analyses to help you find concentrations of fish, as well as, turtles, birds, and marine mammals.
While we have been conducting these analyses as a civic duty and as an exercise in technology transfer, we would like to be contracted to do this to support cleanup, restoration, and litigation, as well as, ecosystem research efforts. If you plan to use these reports including the graphics you must give ROFFS™ full credit for this work. ROFFS™ would be appreciative if you would copy this analysis to others who may be interested in our efforts. At ROFFS™ we have been mapping the distribution and movements of the oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill from satellites since the explosion. Basically we are using a host of U.S. (NOAA and NASA) and European (ESA) satellites with a variety of spectral (infrared, near infra-red, visible, RGB and synthetic aperture radar) and spatial resolutions (300 meter to 1 KM) to see the oil. The MODIS satellite data are being received from the University of South Florida IMaRS and the synthetic radar (SAR) imagery is being received from the CSTARS at the University of Miami and also from the NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. We manipulate and integrate these data at ROFFS™ and the analyses are ROFFS™ expert interpretations of the satellite imagery along with other data such as winds, sea surface temperature, currents, and in-situ reports. We routinely discuss our results with several academic and non-academic oceanographers.
We use a plethora of techniques to remove or reduce the effect of clouds and satellite angle, as well as, to manipulate the satellite data to understand the ocean circulation patterns associated with the oil’s motion. We focus our efforts on the offshore segment of the oil. Sequential image analysis allows us to visualize the motion. The red “X” indicates the site of the Deepwater Horizon spill area.
We have been deriving these analyses on a daily basis and posting them to our website (http://www.roffs.com/). We have many years of experience conducting similar analyses. For example we mapped the plume coming from the New Orleans area after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (http://www.roffs.com/katrina.htm).
ROFFS Oceanographic Analysis for the Deepwater oil spill area -15 June 2010 (17:O0 HRS) Public Version
Due to popular demand we are providing this update today.
See enclosed PDF analysis as the graphic is enclosed. Overall we continue to monitor the distribution and movements of the oil and oil-water-dispersant mixture from infrared, RGB, visible and synthetic aperture radar (SAR). Today we were able to use the RGB data to visualize the surface oil which augmented the SAR from yesterday. However, we mostly used the infrared and ocean color imagery (enclosed) today as it was very clear and we were able to see the details of the currents that we have not been able to see since last week. We have outlined in olive green surface oil that we have been able to see in the last 48 hours from SAR and RGB imagery. Due to the angle of the satellite passes we were unable to visualize the oil west of the Mississippi Delta that we observed last week.
We were able to see the oil either touching the shore or very close to the shore at Gulf Shores, Alabama. We also observed some indications that the oil has spread all the way west to the Santa Rosa Island area (offshore of the coastline), but the imagery is not conclusive. We would expect the oil to continue moving eastward based on the flow of the water along the Florida Panhandle that we observed during the last 24 hours. However, the good news is that the winds today (from the northwest and northeast) support holding the oil- water mixture offshore for the time being.
Southwest of Tampa we were able to see many water mass boundaries, but we need a longer time period with clear skies to locate the center of circulation of the cyclonic eddy (counter-clockwise circulation) located southwest of Tampa, Florida. Our best estimate is that the center of circulation is near 85°15’W & 27°00’N. This eddy appears to be moving southward slowly and seems to be “flattening ” the large Loop Current eddy “Franklin” which now seems to have an irregular shape suggesting that the eddy circulation is unstable. We have not colored the areas with oil in grey as we have lost continuity with the exact water masses that we were following last week due to the three days of cloud interference. We will not guess on their location. However, on-site reports along with SAR data last week indicate to us that all the areas shown with “oil” contains petroleum from the Deepwater Horizon spill. We have been able to outline the tendrils of the oil-water mixture that originated from the Deepwater Horizon spill site. These tendrils are shown in gray. Note that they are following the eastern boundary of the eddy Franklin between 84°00’W – 84°30’N from 27°30’N to the elongated egg-shaped eddy centered near 85°00’W & 24°15’N. It seems important to us that you sample these tendrils for oil at the surface and at depth. We observed oil at the surface in a similar situation last week along the eastern boundary of the Eddy Franklin and now that oil is circulating in a counter-clockwise dir ection in the elongated egg-shaped eddy. The key to understanding if the oil is headed to the Florida Keys rests in the area near 84°30 ‘W & 24°45’N to 84°30’W & 24°30’N and west to 85°00’W & 24°30’N. We would like to have someone confirm the presence of oil and to see if the oil is moving toward the Florida Keys using drifting buoys in the oil. We do not know if the area near 84°15’W & 24° 50’N has oil yet. We do not believe there is oil there, but in-situ verification at the surface and at depth is needed. Any petroleum based sheen, oil on Sargasso weed, smell of petroleum would indicate t o us that there is oil there. The tendril of the oil-water mixture n ear 86°00’W & 23°45’N seems to have bifurcated flow with some of the oil-water moving westward with the flow of eddy Franklin, while som e is moving northeastward around the elongated egg-shaped eddy. Of note it appears that the large Loop Current eddy Franklin is not separated from the Loop Current at least at the surface as evidenced by the cooler Yucatan Current water is now providing a buffer between the Loop Current and the large eddy. The large Loop Current eddy Franklin remains unstable due to the many counter-clockwise rotating eddy flowing around the outside, the southward motion and forces of the eddy west of Tampa, FL, and the friction by the west Florida continental shelf. However, the apparent separation from the Loop Current is good news for the ecosystem and people living in the Florida Keys and southeast Florida for the time being. We still are concerned about the path of the oil that resides in the eddy southwest of Tampa, FL and its ultimate fate as it approaches the area near 85°00’W & 24°30’N.
If you decide to use this analysis or the images contained within, please give credit to ROFFS. We still need funding support for this work. We suggest that you contact your emergency managers, Coast Guard, etc. and tell them you want an independent analysis of the oil situation. If nothing else as an independent confirmation of the information they are receiving now from others. Remember that every fishing trip is important to use ROFFS to help you find fish.
Today we are also providing an ocean color image derived from the NASA Aqua satellite’s MODIS sensor. We have provided a color palette that we feel reflects the color the water. While we will not discuss this image in detail for the non-experienced image viewer, note the “ocean color” from the area of the surface oil plume centered near 8 7°45’W & 29°15’N. With careful analysis one can see the very blue Yucatan Current, the Loop Current and the separation between the Eddy Nelson and the Loop Current.
If you want to learn about ocean color from satellites, see the NASA website http://oceancolor.gsfc.nasa.gov/ and you will see more than perhaps you wanted. Of course you can al ways ask us when you see us at scientific meetings, boat and fishing shows, or simply around town in West Melbourne Florida where our headquarters are located.