MIAMI July 23, 2012 Scientists have embarked on a 3-week expedition aboard the R/V Walton Smith in the Gulf of Mexico to understand how surface ocean currents near the site of the Deepwater Horizon influence the fate and transport of oil/dispersants, like those from the 2010 spill. In other words, they will investigate where pollutants travel, and how fast they get there. This experiment is an essential step in understanding the elusive surface ocean currents that transport pollutants.
This unprecedented expedition marks the first time that a study of this magnitude will map the relatively unknown surface currents found in the GoM. In the past, only a handful of monitoring devices were set adrift along the currents. This summer, more than 300 custom-made buoys known as "drifters" will be released during the Grand Lagrangian Deployment (GLAD.)
"In the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill it became clear that understanding the various scales of oceanic currents and flows lies at the very heart of being able to improve our understanding and prediction of oil spills," explained Dr. Tamay Ӧzgkmen, University of Miami (UM) Professor and Director of the Consortium for Advanced Research on Transport of Hydrocarbons in the Environment (CARTHE), a project funded by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI). "In this case we are like detectives uncovering clues and following the 'trail' to find out exactly where pollutants might go."
UM Professor and Chief Scientist Brian Haus will oversee the release of drifters from UM's 96-foot catamaran, the R/V Walton Smith. "The drifters will collect a wealth of oceanic information that will be plugged into predictive models to help us better understand the role of near-surface ocean flows in spreading and dispersing materials in the marine environment," said Haus.
The GLAD experiment is one of two inaugural CARTHE research expeditions this summer. Haus leads the drifters' dep
|Contact: Barbra Gonzalez|
University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science