Hydrostatic Modeling of Buoyant Plumes

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Ashley Stroman, William K Dewar, Nico Wienders and Bruno Deremble, Florida State Univ, Tallahassee, FL, United States
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has led to increased interest in understanding point source convection dynamics. Most of the existing oil plume models use a Lagrangian based approach, which computes integral measures such as plume centerline trajectory and plume radius. However, this approach doesn’t account for feedbacks of the buoyant plume on the ambient environment. Instead, we employ an Eulerian based approach to acquire a better understanding of the dynamics of buoyant plumes. We have performed a series of hydrostatic modeling simulations using the MITgcm. Our results show that there is a dynamical response caused by the presence of the buoyant plume, in that there is a modification of the background flow. We find that the buoyant plume becomes baroclinically unstable and sheds eddies at the neutral buoyancy layer. We also explore different scenarios to determine the effect of the buoyancy source and the temperature stratification on the evolution of buoyant plumes.