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Oil Spill Dispersants: Efficacy and Effects
conditions (wind speed, waves, diffusion), chemical dispersion effectiveness, and oil droplet sizes in nearshore and offshore Florida Coast. Biodegradation was not modeled in the sensitivity analysis, because models were run for only one or two simulation days.
Although the sensitivity results are somewhat dependent on the test conditions and simulation codes selected for this evaluation, they are good indicators of the importance of the model parameters tested. The sensitivity analysis helps identify knowledge gaps, future research needs, and a new approach (potential of using models to assist on-scene decisionmakers for the possible dispersant use) to assess dispersant use. The analysis also can enhance our knowledge and understanding of the combined effects of these mechanisms on oil transport and fate, and beneficial and adverse impacts of using chemical dispersants.
The two codes that were considered are SIMAP (French-McCay, 2003, 2004), and the combined use of ADIOS2 (Lehr et al., 2002) and Lagrangian 3-D GNOME (Simecek-Beatty et al., 2002); both simulate most mechanisms needed to assess dispersant use, except dispersant effectiveness itself and changes in the oil droplet sizes (which are user inputs). The latter codes are used by NOAA for their real-time response to an actual oil spill. The flow field is not simulated by 3-D GNOME, but it is supplied to the code as a model input. Although the code can accept a three-dimensional velocity distribution, NOAA usually uses a simpler two-dimensional flow field, balancing pressure forces, bottom friction, Coriolis force, and water density variation, adjusted by tide and wind for a real-time emergency response. Their capability to reflect a three-dimensional flow field in a real-time emergency response needs to be improved, especially in complex nearshore areas. Oil trajectory predictions during a spill are constantly adjusted to match observed trajectories by re-adjusting the model input, including the velocity and wind fields.
Because of the availability of the codes within the public domain, their ease of use, limited requirements to operate the models, and their potential use for determining dispersant use during an oil spill event, ADIOS2 and 3-D GNOME were used for the sensitivity analysis. However, this investigation was not intended to evaluate these codes, but rather to use their simulation results as indicators for sensitivity of oil concentrations to various transport and fate processes. Because the sensitivity results may reflect specifics of these two codes, additional sensitivity analysis is recommended with other codes.