Oil Spill Disasters – how models will be important for Kingston Harbour clean-up efforts

Figure 1: Model output showing the simulation of an oil spill in the Kingston Harbour.  The full model loop can be seen at: http://blue.monagis.com/?aquatic-ecosystem=ecosystems

Figure 1 does not demonstrate the actual occurrence of the oil spill on July 19th 2017 in the Kingston Harbour; but gives a general idea of what occurs during an oil spill based on the output of the numerical models created by MGIBlue’s Coastal Dynamics Modelling Lab.

On July 19th, 2017, the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) reported a major oil spill in the vicinity of Jamaica’s primary refinery - Petrojam – extending from Kingston Harbour to the Gordon Cay area. The slick covered approximately 2 square kilometres of a busy shipping area and continues to grow. A crucial tool in containing this disaster is the ability to track the movement of the oil spill.  Using numerical models can drastically improve clean-up efforts as well as inform future plans to deal with such reoccurring issues.

The numerical model outputs developed at MGIBlue’s Coastal Dynamics Modelling Lab (CDML) are able to simulate oil spills in the Kingston Harbour giving a visual example of what is likely to happen over time. Scientists at the CDML use data such as  wind, temperature, salinity, tidal amplitude, pressure and wave heights to predict how currents will distribute harmful matter. Figure 1 is an image of the oil spill model which shows change in concentration of the contaminant as it moves over time. The particle-tracking model in figure 2 shows where buoyant contaminants will ultimately end up as particles move along the surface of the ocean. This is where oil spills become particularly dangerous – when they impact our coastal habitats and shorelines. Knowing where it is likely to spread before it gets there allows for interventions to be carried out in a pro-active and more efficient manner.

Figure 2: Model output showing the end-point for buoyant particles released at the mouth and shipping channel of the Kingston Harbour.  The full model loop can be seen at: http://blue.monagis.com/?hydrodynamic=particle-dispersion

Figure 2 does not demonstrate the actual occurrence of the oil spill on July 19th 2017 in the Kingston Harbour; but gives a general idea of what occurs during an oil spill based on the output of the numerical models created by MGIBlue’s Coastal Dynamics Modelling Lab.

 

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