Oil Spill Modeling: A Critical Review on Current Trends, Perspectives, and Challenges
Journal of Marine Science and Engineering
Several oil spill simulation models exist in the literature, which are used worldwide to simulate the evolution of an oil slick created from marine traffic, petroleum production, or other sources. These models may range from simple parametric calculations to advanced, new-generation, operational, three-dimensional numerical models, coupled to meteorological, hydrodynamic, and wave models, forecasting in high-resolution and with high precision the transport and fate of oil. This study presents a
... review of the transport and oil weathering processes and their parameterization and critically examines eighteen state-of-the-art oil spill models in terms of their capacity (a) to simulate these processes, (b) to consider oil released from surface or submerged sources, (c) to assimilate real-time field data for model initiation and forcing, and (d) to assess uncertainty in the produced predictions. Based on our review, the most common oil weathering processes involved are spreading, advection, diffusion, evaporation, emulsification, and dispersion. The majority of existing oil spill models do not consider significant physical processes, such as oil dissolution, photo-oxidation, biodegradation, and vertical mixing. Moreover, timely response to oil spills is lacking in the new generation of oil spill models. Further improvements in oil spill modeling should emphasize more comprehensive parametrization of oil dissolution, biodegradation, entrainment, and prediction of oil particles size distribution following wave action and well blow outs.