Preprint Article Version 1 This version is not peer-reviewed

The DeepWater Horizon Oil Slick: High Resolution Model Simulations of River Front Effects, Initialized and Verified by Satellite Observations

Version 1 : Received: 20 July 2019 / Approved: 24 July 2019 / Online: 24 July 2019 (08:34:51 CEST)

How to cite: Hole, L.R.; Dagestad, K.; Röhrs, J.; Wettre, C.; Kourafalou, V.H.; Androulidakis, Y.; Kang, H.; Le Hénaff, M.; Garcia-Pineda, O. The DeepWater Horizon Oil Slick: High Resolution Model Simulations of River Front Effects, Initialized and Verified by Satellite Observations. Preprints 2019, 2019070266 (doi: 10.20944/preprints201907.0266.v1). Hole, L.R.; Dagestad, K.; Röhrs, J.; Wettre, C.; Kourafalou, V.H.; Androulidakis, Y.; Kang, H.; Le Hénaff, M.; Garcia-Pineda, O. The DeepWater Horizon Oil Slick: High Resolution Model Simulations of River Front Effects, Initialized and Verified by Satellite Observations. Preprints 2019, 2019070266 (doi: 10.20944/preprints201907.0266.v1).

Abstract

The effect of river fronts on oil slick transport has been demonstrated using high resolution forcing models and a fully fledged oil drift model, OpenOil. The model system is used to simulate the 2010 DeepWater Horizon oil spill. Metocean forcing data are taken from the GoM-HYCOM 1/50° ocean model with realistic river input and ECMWF global forecast products of wind and wave parameters with 1/8° resolution. The simulations are initialized from satellite observations of the surface oil patch. OpenOil includes most of the relevant processes, such as emulsification, evaporation, wave entrainment, stranding and droplet formation. The model takes account of the actual oil type and properties, using the ADIOS oil weathering database of NOAA. The effect of using a newly developed parameterization for oil droplet size distribution is studied and compared to a traditional algorithm. Although the algorithms provide different distributions for a single wave breaking event, it is found that the net difference after long simulations is negligible, indicating that the outcome is robust regarding the choice of parameterization. That indicates that the wave entrainment, vertical mixing and re-surfacing mechanisms that are part of OpenOil are more important for determining the final droplet size spectrum than the spectrum prescribed for individual wave breaking events. In both cases, the size of the droplets controls how much oil is present at the surface and hence are subject to wind and Stokes drift. The effect of removing river outflow in the ocean model is investigated in order to showcase effects of river induced fronts on oil spreading. A consistent effect on the amount and location of stranded oil is found, and considerable impact of river induced fronts is seen on the location of the surface oil patch. During a case with large river outflow (May 20-27, 2010), the total amount of stranded oil is reduced by about 50% in the simulation with no river input. The results compares well with satellite observations of the surface oil patch.

Subject Areas

HYCOM; OpenDrift; OpenOil; oil spill; modelling; simulations; satellite; observations; river fronts; DeepWater Horizon

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