Arctic Oil Spill Modeling
Texas A&M University
ADAC's team is developing techniques to estimate the spread of oil in ice-bound environments and produce forecasting models which can be coupled with existing oil spill forecasting systems. These techniques will estimate the spread of oil released under ice by well blow-outs and pipeline ruptures as well as oil released among ice by events such as ship groundings. The models will utilize Arctic sea ice and current data from the High-Resolution Ice/Ocean Modeling and Assimilation System (HIOMAS) and will be incorporated into the General NOAA Operational Modeling Environment (GNOME) as well as ADAC's principle end-to-end effort, Arctic Information Fusion Capability (AIFC).
In support of the USCG marine oil spill response mission the research team is developing an analytical model to estimate the spread of oil released in an ocean environment under ice due to a well blowout, ruptured pipeline, or ship grounding. The approach for under ice oil release from an offshore well blowout or pipeline rupture will involve coupling output from the ocean oil plume model developed by TAMU with the UAA derived analytical density current models to forecast oil spreading. These tools have in turn been included in the NOAA’s oil spill forecasting model, the General NOAA Operational Modeling Environment (GNOME). For oil released near the ocean surface, the project team has adopted approaches derived from the research literature compatible with NOAA’s GNOME model, and worked to have these algorithms included in GNOME.
The research goal is to develop a tool to forecast the spread of oil in an Arctic marine environment in the immediate aftermath of an oil spill event (i.e., within 24 or 48 hours of the spill). Modeling will account for the character of the oil spill (e.g., well blowout or pipe rupture), the release rate or amount, the environmental conditions (ice concentration, water depth, water velocity (drift), and salinity). Researchers will prioritize near-surface releases of oil (e.g., vessel source) as there is a greater risk of oil spills from a vessel source.