Hydrodynamics play a critical role in determining the trajectory of an oil spill. Currents, stratification and mesoscale processes all contribute to how a spill behaves. Using an industry‑leading oil spill model, we compare forecasts of oil dispersion when forced with two different hydrodynamic models of the North-West European Shelf (7 km and 1.5 km horizontal resolution). This demonstrates how the trajectory of a deep water (>1000 m) release in the central Faroe-Shetland Channel is influenced by explicitly resolving mesoscale processes. The finer resolution hydrodynamic model dramatically enhances the horizontal dispersion of oil and transports pollutant further afield. This is a consequence of higher mesoscale variability. Stratification influences the depth of subsurface plume trapping and subsequently the far-field transport of oil. These results demonstrate that the choice of hydrodynamic model resolution is crucial when designing particle tracking or tracer release experiments.
- School of Environmental Sciences - Associate Professor
- Centre for Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences - Member
- Collaborative Centre for Sustainable Use of the Seas - Member
Person: Research Group Member, Academic, Teaching & Research