Lagrangian oil spill modelling and parameterizations of wave entrainment and oil film thickness

Lagrangian oil spill models are frequently used for environmental impact studies and for contingency preparedness. The mechanisms that determine the fate of an oil spill are complex; while ocean currents determine the horizontal transport, wind and waves determine how much oil is mixed into the water column resulting in different drift patterns.

Oil properties determine how the surface slick is mixed down by breaking waves, and the droplet size distribution of the entrained oil determine how much oil can resurface with time. Due to different wind and wave exposure, as well as vertical current shear, the surface slick is transported differently from the subsurface oil. Both parts present a threat to the environment, but with very different impact for either the deep ocean, or coastal environments.

Oil entrainment by waves is an active field of research, and the master student will test new parameterizations of wave entrainment and investigate the effect of oil film thickness on the mass exchange between surface and entrained oil.

Simulations will be performed using OpenDrift, which contains an oil spill module with state-of-the-art parameterizations for weathering, wave entrainment and droplet size distributions.

The experiments will be based on fields from ocean circulation models and wave models for the Norwegian Sea, allowing to simulate realistic oil spill scenarios and historic cases that provide the means for validation.


Fig: Oil spill transport simulation with OpenDrift


Published Mar. 1, 2018 3:56 PM - Last modified Mar. 1, 2018 3:56 PM

Scope (credits)