BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Science Behind the Image

The animation depicts wind velocity, water levels, inundation, and passive particle movement obtained from a simulation of past hurricanes computed using the ADCIRC coastal circulation model coupled to the unstructured SWAN wave model. The initial particle distributions vary from simulation to simulation. Some points are hypothetical; others reflect the position of the oil on the surface and vary in date from 06/20/2010 to 06/23/2010 to 06/27/2010. Positions were derived from the NOAA/NESDIS Experimental Marine Pollution Surveillance Daily Composite Product (http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/PS/MPS/deepwater.html). Particles in the animation move with the depth-averaged water velocity and most accurately represent water movement in shallow estuarine, near shore, and continental shelf waters that were strongly mixed during the storm. Particle motion beyond the continental shelf is not reliable. During the simulation, particles do not disburse, stick, or degrade in any way. They may not accurately represent the movement of oil. These results should not be used to forecast the movement of material at the sea surface or in the water column during any future event.

Visualization Behind the Image

The visualization effort by TACC focused on the overlay of particle movement and satellite or aerial imaging data. The particles in the visualization representing the oil spill and their position is either hypothetical or reflects the position of the oil on the surface. The data was visualized using TACC's Longhorn visualization system and MINERVA, an open source geospatial software. The data was generated daily and is approximately 100 GB in size.



Adam Kubach
Karla Vega

Univ. North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Institute of Marine Sciences; Univ. Notre Dame, Computational Hydraulics Laboratory Computational Hydraulics Group, ICES, The University of Texas at Austin; Center for Space Research, The University of Texas at Austin Seahorse Coastal Consulting. Web support provided by the Renaissance Computing Institute, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Funding provided by the National Science Foundation TeraGrid initiative and a National Science Foundation RAPID Grant, Office of Cyberinfrastructure. Also, the Department of Homeland Security Science & Technology Directorate through the Center of Excellence for Natural Disasters, Coastal Infrastructure and Emergency Management.