PROJECT 3: Arctic Oil Spill Modeling

Project PI’s: Dr. Tom Ravens and Dr. Scott Socolofsky

Lead Institutions: University of Alaska Anchorage and Texas A&M University (TAMU)

Supporting Team: Dr. Jifeng Peng (UAA), Dana Brunswick (UAA), and a Postdoctoral researcher (TAMU).

Project Description:
The team will work to develop techniques to estimate the spreading of oil that has been released under ice (due to a well blow-out or due to a ruptured pipeline) or among ice (due to a ship grounding). For the under-ice oil release from a well blowout or a ruptured pipeline, the approach will involve coupling output from the oil plume model developed by Texas A&M University with simple analytical density current models to arrive at forecasts of oil spreading. For oil released near the surface, project team will adopt approaches derived from the research literature that are compatible with NOAA’s GNOME oil spill model (General NOAA Operational Modeling Environment).

The goal is to develop a tool to forecast the spreading of oil in the immediate aftermath of a spill event (i.e., within 24 or 48 hours of the spill), accounting for the character of the spill (e.g., well blowout or pipe rupture), the release rate or amount, and the environmental conditions (ice concentration, water depth, water velocity, salinity). The tool produced – referred to as the “Arctic Oil Spill Calculator” – will be housed in the Arctic Information Fusion Capability, and we will work to include it in NOAA’s Arctic ERMA program.

Illustration 5. Key to Arctic Oil Plume Modeling: The Spill Calculator