849 Oil Spill and Sea Surface Effects Over Gulf of Mexico Using WRF and Satellite Data

Wednesday, 26 January 2011
Washington State Convention Center
Francis. Tuluri, Jackson State Univ., Jackson, MS; and R. S. Reddy, A. Yerramilli, V. B. R. Dodla, and A. Milan

Handout (253.0 kB)

The Deep Horizon oil rig explosion at 52 miles southeast of Venice, Louisiana, USA has caused fears that the oil slick can go into catastrophic to influence the Gulf of Mexico in many areas from environment to ecology. It is estimated that in three months after the accident on April 20, 2010 over 200 million gallons of oil has been poured out and the oil spill spread over 500 square miles into the Gulf. In the present study, we investigate oil spill effects over Gulf of Mexico on the changes in sea surface temperature (SST), tropical cyclone heat potential (TCHP), and surface weather circulations, using Weather Research Forecast (WRF) model output and satellite data in the region. The WRF model simulations were carried out for the period June 1 -3, 2010 considered about a month after the Deep Horizon accident, and showed about 30 C increase in SST due to the oil spill, in agreement with the observed satellite data. The heat potentials have shown elevated values of about 80 J/cm3 that has potential to develop a tropical disturbance into severe storm. We noticed contrasting effects of oil spill on weather patterns representative of high pressure and wind directions versus increasing trends of SST and TCHP. Our study confirms in contrast to increase in SST and TCHP in consequence of oil slick, which are favorable for tropical cyclone growth that the region is experiencing anomalous reduction in tropical storms/cyclone frequency and strength compared to those expected otherwise during the period of June and July.
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