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LASER Focus Advances Knowledge of How Gulf of Mexico Water Moves

April 12, 2016
CARTHE conducts unprecedented experiment to improve oil fate models

Predictions for decisions – our world relies on them, from daily weather to annual financial forecasts. Predictions, though, are only as good as the information that goes into making them. And those predictions carry even more weight when they involve human safety in situations like storm tracking, search and rescue, and pollution monitoring.

The Gulf Coast experienced such a situation during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Answers to where was the oil going, how much was involved, and when would it arrive would influence many decisions. Responders used the best available resources for decision-making, but the blowout’s magnitude and depth was a first for the Gulf and the need for improved transport modeling became apparent.

The CARTHE group, 75 researchers and staff representing 26 institutions, recently carried out a month-long experiment in the Gulf of Mexico named the LAgrangian Submesoscale ExpeRiment or LASER. Their goal: make quantum leaps in improved ocean transport predictions. Years of planning, designing, and testing preceded this highly-orchestrated event that went beyond previous scales and scope.

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