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Geophysical Monograph Series



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Index Terms

  • 4512 Oceanography: Physical: Currents
  • 4572 Oceanography: Physical: Upper ocean and mixed layer processes
  • 4599 Oceanography: Physical: General or miscellaneous



Possible Spreadings of Buoyant Plumes and Local Coastline Sensitivities Using Flow Syntheses From 1992 to 2007

R. Tulloch, C. Hill, and O. Jahn

We present results from an ensemble of simulations where a buoyant dye is injected at the site of the Deepwater Horizon blowout from April 20 to July 15 of each year between 1992 and 2007. Ocean currents are taken from observationally constrained Estimating the Circulation and Climate of the Ocean Phase 2 (ECCO2) project state estimates spanning 1992 to 2007. Starting from this basis, we explore the utility of adjoint equations in allowing proactive evaluation of regional impact likelihood. Forward integrations are performed to assess the ensemble spread of the plume, the role of increased resolution of ocean eddies, and to compare spreading metrics using an Eulerian tracer and Lagrangian particles. Spreading statistics compare well with previous studies, and the Lagrangian and Eulerian approaches predict similar spreading rates, allowing some confidence in adjoint sensitivity analysis of the vulnerability of different local coastline regions to be conducted. Example adjoint calculations indicate that coastline of the Mississippi Delta is most sensitive to spills on the continental shelf off adjacent to Mississippi and Alabama, while Cape Hatteras, for example, is most sensitive to spills on the continental shelf from Delaware to South Carolina. Combined with accurate estimates of historical currents and winds, we argue that the adjoint approach we describe can be a useful regional planning and preparedness tool. Using the adjoint approach, local communities can proactively identify spill locations to which they are especially vulnerable, allowing for better preparedness and more efficient response to any future incidents.

Citation: Tulloch, R., C. Hill, and O. Jahn (2011), Possible spreadings of buoyant plumes and local coastline sensitivities using flow syntheses from 1992 to 2007, 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. 245–255, AGU, Washington, D. C., doi:10.1029/2011GM001125.

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