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Geophysical Monograph Series

 

Keywords

  • Loop Current
  • Deepwater Horizon
  • airborne oceanography
  • eddy Franklin
  • temperature
  • HYCOM

Index Terms

  • 4512 Oceanography: Physical: Currents
  • 4520 Oceanography: Physical: Eddies and mesoscale processes
  • 4534 Oceanography: Physical: Hydrodynamic modeling
  • 4271 Oceanography: General: Physical and chemical properties of seawater

Article

GEOPHYSICAL MONOGRAPH SERIES, VOL. 195, PP. 131-151, 2011

Airborne Ocean Surveys of the Loop Current Complex From NOAA WP-3D in Support of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Lynn K. Shay

Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, Division of Meteorology and Physical Oceanography, University of Miami, Miami, Florida, USA


Benjamin Jaimes

Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, Division of Meteorology and Physical Oceanography, University of Miami, Miami, Florida, USA


Jodi K. Brewster

Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, Division of Meteorology and Physical Oceanography, University of Miami, Miami, Florida, USA


Patrick Meyers

Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, Division of Meteorology and Physical Oceanography, University of Miami, Miami, Florida, USA


E. Claire McCaskill

Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, Division of Meteorology and Physical Oceanography, University of Miami, Miami, Florida, USA


Eric Uhlhorn

NOAA Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, Hurricane Research Division, Miami, Florida, USA


Frank Marks

NOAA Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, Hurricane Research Division, Miami, Florida, USA


George R. Halliwell Jr.

NOAA Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, Physical Oceanography Division, Miami, Florida, USA


Ole Martin Smedstad

QinetiQ North America, Stennis Space Center, Mississippi, USA


Patrick Hogan

Naval Research Laboratory, Stennis Space Center, Mississippi, USA


At the time of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion, the Loop Current (LC), a warm ocean current in the Gulf of Mexico (GoM), extended to 27.5°N just south of the rig. To measure the regional scale variability of the LC, oceanographic missions were flown on a NOAA WP-3D research aircraft to obtain ocean structural data during the spill and provide thermal structure profiles to ocean forecasters aiding in the oil spill disaster at 7 to 10 day intervals. The aircraft flew nine grid patterns over the eastern GoM between May and July 2010 deploying profilers to measure atmospheric and oceanic properties such as wind, humidity, temperature, salinity, and current. Ocean current profilers sampled as deep as 1500 m, conductivity, temperature, and depth profilers sampled to 1000 m, and bathythermographs sampled to either 350 or 800 m providing deep structural measurements. Profiler data were provided to modeling centers to predict possible trajectories of the oil and vector ships to regions of anomalous signals. In hindcast mode, assimilation of temperature profiles into the Hybrid Coordinate Ocean Model improved the fidelity of the simulations by reducing RMS errors by as much as 30% and decreasing model biases by half relative to the simulated thermal structure from models that assimilated only satellite data. The synoptic snapshots also provided insight into the evolving LC variability, captured the shedding of the warm core eddy Franklin, and measured the small-scale cyclones along the LC periphery.

Citation: Shay, L. K., B. Jaimes, J. K. Brewster, P. Meyers, E. C. McCaskill, E. Uhlhorn, F. Marks, G. R. Halliwell Jr., O. M. Smedstad, and P. Hogan (2011), Airborne ocean surveys of the Loop Current complex from NOAA WP-3D in support of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, in Monitoring and Modeling the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: A Record-Breaking Enterprise, Geophys. Monogr. Ser., vol. 195, edited by Y. Liu et al., pp. 131–151, AGU, Washington, D. C., doi:10.1029/2011GM001101.

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