Navigation Links
New method successfully predicted how oil from Deepwater Horizon spill would spread

Prompted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, a UC Santa Barbara scientist has come up with a new way of predicting how contaminants like oil will spread. He was able to forecast several days in advance that oil from that spill would wash ashore in particular parts of the Gulf of Mexico.

"We predicted where the oil was going to go," says Igor Mezic, a professor of mechanical engineering at UC Santa Barbara who studies fluid dynamics. "We were able to do 3-day predictions pretty accurately."

In a paper published online Sept. 2 in Science Express, Mezic, together with Sophie Loire, a postdoctoral fellow who works with Mezic, and colleagues at the software development company Aimdyn, Inc. in Santa Barbara and at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, describe how they predicted the movement of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico after an explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon rig on April 20.

In the following weeks, Mezic and his colleagues generated frequent forecasts of the movement of the spill and passed them on to those involved in the cleanup.

"We were on the phone with people, several days in advance, telling them where the oil was going to go," says Mezic, who began the work after watching coverage of the oil spill. "I looked at this problem on the TV and thought I could do something about it," he says. "I felt there could be a better set of theories to predict how oil will move."

Mezic and his colleagues successfully predicted where and when oil washed ashore in the Mississippi River Delta and later, on the white-sand beaches of Pensacola, Florida, and they forecast that the spill would then move east toward Panama City Beach. Their predictions were accurate to within a couple of miles of the actual extent of the spill later assessed by NOAA from aerial surveys.

It's not easy to predict how an oil slick will spread across the ocean, Mezic says, because of the large scale involved, and the constantly changing movement of water at the sea surface, driven largely by wind.

Mezic's new approach to the problem is based on computations that describe how slicks of oil tend to be stretched into filaments by motion at the sea surface. To produce predictions of oil movement after the Deepwater Horizon accident, the researchers incorporated forecasts of sea surface conditions from a U.S. Navy model.

Mezic says further refinements of this new methodology could be done in order to predict the spread of many other contaminants such as ash spewed out of an erupting volcano or warm air seeping into a climate-controlled building.

"It's pretty universal," Mezic says. "It could be applied to many different kinds of situations where a contaminant or heat is moved around by a liquid or gas."


Contact: Anna Davison
University of California - Santa Barbara

Related biology news :

1. University at Buffalo symposium on in silico methods, high throughput screening
2. Cold Spring Harbor Protocols features chromosomal rearrangement, gene copy number methods
3. Half-a-loaf method can improve magnetic memories
4. Zinc finger nuclease, immunoprecipitation methods featured in Cold Spring Harbor Protocols
5. New methods, new math speed detection of drug-resistant malaria
6. Body of evidence: New fast, reliable method to detect gravesoil
7. California team to receive up to $122 million to develop method to produce fuels from sunlight
8. Mother Nature to provide an environmentally friendly method for reducing mosquitoes
9. BioDonostia evaluates the use of a food-related method for the diagnosis of hepatic steatosis
10. New biofuels processing method for mobile facilities
11. New retrieval method makes studying cancer proteins easier
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/20/2015)... , November 20, 2015 ... company focused on the growing mobile commerce market and ... Gino Pereira , was recently interviewed on ... will air on this weekend on Bloomberg Europe ... America . --> NXTD ) ("NXT-ID" or ...
(Date:11/19/2015)... VIEW, Calif. , Nov. 19, 2015  Based ... market, Frost & Sullivan recognizes BIO-key with the 2015 ... Leadership. Each year, Frost & Sullivan presents this award ... product line catering to the needs of the market ... the product line meets and expands on customer base ...
(Date:11/19/2015)... , Nov. 19, 2015  Although some 350 companies ... dominated by a few companies, according to Kalorama Information. These ... 51% of the market share of the 6.1 billion-dollar ... The World Market for Molecular Diagnostic s .    ... market is still controlled by one company and only ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... Nov. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ - Aeterna Zentaris Inc. ... that the remaining 11,000 post-share consolidation (or 1,100,000 ... (the "Series B Warrants") subject to the previously ... November 23, 2015, which will result in the ... effect to the issuance of such shares, there ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... InSphero AG, the leading supplier of easy-to-use ... promoted Melanie Aregger to serve as Chief Operating Officer. , Having joined ... management team and was promoted to Head of InSphero Diagnostics in 2014. ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 24, 2015 Capricor Therapeutics, Inc. ... the discovery, development and commercialization of first-in-class therapeutics, today ... Officer, is scheduled to present at the 2015 Piper ... a.m. EST, at The Lotte New York Palace Hotel ... . --> . ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... and NEW YORK , November 24, 2015 ... by Bristol-Myers Squibb in a European ... Squibb Company in which the companies will work closely ... and other areas of unmet medical need. The collaboration is ... 5, the latest LSP fund. This is the first investment ...
Breaking Biology Technology: