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GPS drifters floating around Deepwater Horizon inform future spill response

(Environmental Monitor)
By Alex Card on September 2, 2014

When an explosion sank the Deepwater Horizon oil rig off the coast of Mississippi in April 2010, the well on the seafloor below gushed oil for 87 days without interruption. A cleanup response desperately attempted to contain the spill, but with limited knowledge of how quickly and where the oil might spread, the effort proved ineffective.

A new study, funded by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative, explores the role of small-scale ocean currents in dispersing pollutant clouds. Drawing from data gathered nearly two years to the day after the disaster, the research could help response coordinators address a future incident quicker and more efficiently.

“If there’s another oil spill, we are going to use the predictive model to tell us what will happen in the next day or week or month,” said Tamay Özgökmen, a professor at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. Özgökmen is also the director of the Consortium for Advanced Research on Transport of Hydrocarbon in the Environment, or CARTHE.

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