Ocean Circulation Lab
USF College of Marine Science

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill trajectory hindcast/forecast based on RTOFS (Atlantic)

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This is a joint effort of the Ocean Circulation Group and the Optical Oceanography Laboratory at College of Marine Science, University of South Florida to track/predict the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico using simulated drifters/particles. Drifter trajectories were calculated based on the hourly surface currents from the RTOFS (Atlantic) (data assimilative numerical ocean model hindcast & forecast). Virtual particles were released from the sunken rig site every three hours, assuming continual oil spill from the well. The initial locations of the drifters were inferred from the latest satellite sensed oil slick patches. The subsequent movements of the virtual particles were estimated by the model, not by observations. It must be recognized that all forecast models have errors that grow with time for a variety of reasons. This is one reason why it is important to consider comparative analyses from several different models (multi-model ensemble forecast).

The particles (difters) are shown as black dots, and their trajectries in magenta. Macondo well is designated by the red circle. Sea surface temperature (color contours, units in deg C) was superimposed with the surface current vectors to indicate the surface ocean circulation. The velocity data were subsampled every the third grid points in both east and north directions for better visulization. Questions or comments, please contact Prof. Robert H. Weisberg or Dr. Yonggang Liu.

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Reminder: This page will be updated daily, and the oil spill tracking/prediction may be updated several times a day during the emergency period. Please refresh your web browser each time to make sure what you see are the latest updates.


The nowcast/forecast system and other analyses/data are research products under development. No warranty is made, expressed or implied, regarding accuracy, or regarding the suitability for any particular application. All rights reserved University of South Florida. Copyright University of South Florida 05/06/2010.

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