Ocean currents and oil spill - Google Earth version - 0.0005+ concentrations
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Uploaded on Jun 17, 2010
Update: February 28, 2011 - What happened to the oil?
Detectable amounts never made it to the Atlantic, at least not in an easily visible form on the ocean surface. In this follow-up article we review:
* the difference between a projection and an actual forecast
* the challenges of making short-term projections of natural processes that can act chaotically, such as ocean currents.
June 17, 2010
This animation, displayed using Google Earth software, provides sharpened contrast between comparatively clear ocean and areas of higher dye concentration by eliminating dye concentrations below 0.0005 (a dilution of 2,000 times relative to the source). As a result, the area covered in beige (most diluted) is reduced compared to the animations released on June 3, 2010, with some of the lowest concentrations becoming transparent.
The June 3 YouTube video is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pE-1G_... .
You can download a KMZ file and instructions for interactive display within Google Earth from this page: http://www2.ucar.edu/news/oil-spill-a...
This animation shows one scenario of how oil released in the upper 65 feet of the ocean at the location of the Deepwater Horizon disaster on April 20 in the Gulf of Mexico could move. This is not a forecast, but rather, it illustrates a likely dispersal pathway of the oil for roughly four months following the spill. It assumes oil spilling continuously from April 20 to June 20. The colors represent a dilution factor ranging from red (most concentrated) to beige (most diluted).
The simulations do not make any assumptions about the daily rate or total amount of oil spilled and the dilution factor does not attempt to estimate the actual barrels of oil at any spot. Instead, one unit per day of a liquid "dye tracer" is injected in the model at the spill site (injected continuously over the period April 20 through June 20). The animation shows possible scenarios of what might happen to dye released in the upper 65 feet of ocean at the spill site. The dilution factor depicts how dye released at the site of the spill will be progressively diluted as it is transported and mixed by ocean currents. For example, areas showing a dilution factor of 0.01 would have one-hundredth the concentration of oil present at the spill site.
The animation is based on a computer model simulation, using a virtual dye, that assumes weather and current conditions similar to those that occur in a typical year. It is one of a set of six scenarios (see http://www2.ucar.edu/news/oil-spill-a... ) that simulate possible pathways the oil might take under a variety of oceanic conditions. Each of the six scenarios shows the same overall movement of oil through the Gulf to the Atlantic and up the East Coast. However, the timing and fine-scale details differ, depending on the details of the ocean currents in the Gulf. (Visualization by Michael Burek, NCAR; based on model simulations.)
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