Increased dispersion of oil from a deep water seabed release by energetic mesoscale eddies

Ryan M. Gilchrist, Rob A. Hall, John C. Bacon, Jon M. Rees, Jennifer A. Graham

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3 Citations (Scopus)
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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.
Original languageEnglish
Article number111258
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Early online date17 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020

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