University of Miami
Our objective is to understand, quantify and be able to predict the role of river plume induced fronts and circulation regimes in enhancing, modifying or altering the transport pathways of hydrocarbons, in the presence of complex topography, shelf flows and strong oceanic currents. Strong evidence has emerged that such fronts and currents played a crucial, but poorly understood, role controlling oil pathways in the Gulf of Mexico (GoM) during the Deepwater Horizon (DwH) incident. The study area will cover the entire GoM, including the Florida Straits. Two major hypotheses will be examined: a) large river plumes create distinct circulation regimes, separated with strong fronts that are of fundamental importance for hydrocarbon transport; b) accurate estimates of hydrocarbon pathways need to take into account the thickness of oil.
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