Airborne Ocean Surveys of the Loop Current Complex From NOAA WP-3D in Support of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill [chapter]

Lynn K. Shay, Benjamin Jaimes, Jodi K. Brewster, Patrick Meyers, E. Claire McCaskill, Eric Uhlhorn, Frank Marks, George R. Halliwell, Ole Martin Smedstad, Patrick Hogan
2011 Monitoring and Modeling the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: A Record-Breaking Enterprise  
At the time of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion, the Loop Current (LC), a warm ocean current in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM), extended to 27.5 o N just south of the rig. The Upper Ocean Dynamics (UOD) Lab at the University of Miami was tasked with measuring the LC properties to understand its dynamics and position during the time of the spill and provide measurements to ocean forecasters aiding in the oil spill disaster at seven to ten day intervals. A NOAA WP-3D aircraft flew nine grid
more » ... rns over the northeastern Gulf of Mexico between early May and early July 2010 deploying profilers to measure atmospheric and oceanic properties such as wind, humidity, temperature, salinity, and current. Airborne expendable ocean current profilers sampled as deep as 1500 m, expendable conductivity, temperature and depth profilers sampled to 1000 m, and expendable bathythermographs sampled to either 350 or 800 m. Data from the flights were provided to predict possible trajectories of the oil and direct ships to these regions. Assimilation of observed temperature and salinity profiles improved upper-ocean RMS temperature errors by as much as 30% and decreased model biases by half. In combination with satellite-based products, the near-weekly snapshots over such a large scale provided insight into the evolving oceanic variability of the LC, measured the developing and shedding of the Warm Core Eddy (WCE) Franklin from the LC, and captured the small-scale cyclones along the LC periphery. 3
doi:10.1029/2011gm001101 fatcat:47fizotdfvbgfdkj2nopsqx3fm