A Modified COAWST for Surface Oil Transport in the Gulf of Mexico

Daneisha Blair, Florida State University, Meteorology, Tallahassee, FL, United States, Yangxing Zheng, Florida St Univ-COAPS, Tallahassee, FL, United States, Mark A Bourassa, Florida State Univ, Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies, Tallahassee, FL, United States and Stephen Van Gorder, Florida State University, EOAS, Tallahassee, FL, United States
To limit the damage resulting from an oil spill, response managers rely heavily on reports about a spill’s location and forecasts of future locations. Winds and waves were found to be critically important to forecasting how the released oil will be transported. Our goal is to modify a coupled-ocean-atmosphere-wave-sediment modeling system (COAWST) to create a model specifically designed for surface oil transport in the Gulf of Mexico during the 2010 Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill. The modifications of the modeling system will consider the feedbacks that will improve the forecast of oil spill drift with the interaction between wind, waves, and currents. The oil modifies air-sea coupling, causing changes to the near surface currents, temperatures in air and water, and the near surface winds and waves. These changes are related to changes in surface roughness, the horizontal temperature gradient, and the ocean surface waves. The expected outcomes are that sea surface temperature (SST), winds, waves, and current should cause the horizontal motion of the oil spill and impact the drift of the oil spill in a more realistic simulation, thereby improving prediction of the impact of oil spill forecasting.