Servicio de Información Comunitario sobre Investigación y Desarrollo - CORDIS

Environmental Impact

The work done on the aspect of environmental impact of oil discharged includes the adaptation of the oil-spill/trajectory model to the hydro-dynamical model and dedicated particular efforts on an appropriate procedure to effectively deal with the uncertainties concerning the volume and type of discharged oil. The chosen approach, introducing the concept of life-time of a spill, allowed running a large number of sensitivity calculations. The performed simulations referred to different and realistic scenarios for the North and the Baltic seas and provided some concrete figures of the percentage of oil volume which may reach the shore.

The method is based on a statistical approach where a large number of spills have been randomly released and tracked for a given period of time. The tracks of the oil spills have been simulated using velocity fields generated by an advanced hydrodynamical model covering the entire North Sea and Baltic Sea area with a grid size of 3nm. In the vertical the model has used zooming towards the surface to better resolve the surface velocity field. From the hydrodynamic model simulations surface fields have been extracted at hourly resolution and stored in monthly data sets. The lifetime concept has been introduced to overcome the problem of a lack of knowledge about the oil type. Life-times of 6, 24, 72 and 144 hours have been used.

Based on the assumptions of the model system described and the simulations performed with this system it can concluded that less than 5% of the randomly released particles actually reach the shore. In all cases, it has been found that only a low percentage of oil can reach the shore.

It shall be emphasised that in the study performed the oil-spills are randomly distributed which will not be the case in reality where the spills will be located in the vicinity of the shipping routes. Furthermore, the entire complexity of weathering processes and initial amount of oil has been lumped into a single variable - the life-time of an oil-spill. This has been done because not sufficient input data are usually available. The approach could be applied in specific cases (accidental spills, large deliberate spills) and then provide important information for the decision makers.

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Bolding & Burchard Hydrodynamics
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