Computers Predicted Gulf Oil Movement

SANTA BARBARA, Calif., Sept. 2 (UPI) — Scientists in California say they were successful in predicting the spread of oil from the Gulf of Mexico spill and when and where it would wash ashore.

Researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara, used computer models to describe how slicks of oil tend to be stretched into filaments by motion at the sea surface, a university release said.

To produce predictions of oil movement after the Deepwater Horizon explosion, Igor Mezic, a professor of mechanical engineering at UCSB who studies fluid dynamics, utilized forecasts of sea surface conditions from a U.S. Navy model.

“We predicted where the oil was going to go,” Mezic said. “We were able to do three-day predictions pretty accurately.”

Mezic and his colleagues computed frequent forecasts of the movement of the spill and provided them to those involved in the cleanup.

“We were on the phone with people, several days in advance, telling them where the oil was going to go,” Mezic said.

They successfully predicted where and when oil washed ashore in the Mississippi River Delta and later at Pensacola, Fla., and they forecast the spill would then move east toward Panama City Beach.

Their predictions were accurate to within a couple of miles of the actual extent of the spill later identified from aerial surveys, the university said.

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Categorized | Engineering, Other
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