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Geophysical Monograph Series

 

Keywords

  • Gulf of Mexico
  • Loop Current
  • drifters
  • ocean color index
  • altimetry
  • oil spill

Index Terms

  • 4223 Oceanography: General: Descriptive and regional oceanography
  • 4576 Oceanography: Physical: Western boundary currents
  • 4520 Oceanography: Physical: Eddies and mesoscale processes
  • 4251 Oceanography: General: Marine pollution

Article

GEOPHYSICAL MONOGRAPH SERIES, VOL. 195, PP. 153-165, 2011

Trajectory Forecast as a Rapid Response to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Yonggang Liu

College of Marine Science, University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA


Robert H. Weisberg

College of Marine Science, University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA


Chuanmin Hu

College of Marine Science, University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA


Lianyuan Zheng

College of Marine Science, University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA


In response to the Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon oil spill, a Lagrangian trajectory modeling system was implemented immediately upon spill onset by marshaling numerical model and satellite remote sensing resources available from existing coastal ocean-observing activities. Surface oil locations inferred from satellite imagery were used to re-initialize the positions of virtual particles in this ensemble of trajectory models, and the particles were tracked using forecast surface currents, with new particles added to simulate the continual release of oil from the well. A challenge to this modeling effort was that much information remained unknown throughout the spill event, with additional uncertainty due to intensive mitigation activities. By frequently re-initializing the trajectory models with satellite-inferred locations, the effects of in situ mitigation and forecast error growth were implicitly accounted for and minimized. The simulated surface oil trajectories were compared to the satellite observations in subsequent forecast cycles for veracity testing. Although similar results were obtained, in general, differences were seen in the simulated trajectories by different models. However, no one model performed consistently better or worse than the others throughout the event with one exception. The lessons learned from the event may be useful in preparing rapid trajectory forecast systems in the future.

Citation: Liu, Y., R. H. Weisberg, C. Hu, and L. Zheng (2011), Trajectory forecast as a rapid response to 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. 153–165, AGU, Washington, D. C., doi:10.1029/2011GM001121.

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