Investigating the effect of oil spills
on the environment and public health.
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Funding Source: Year One Block Grant - The Northern Gulf Institute

Project Overview

Integrated Assessment of Oil Spill

Principal Investigator
Mississippi State University
Northern Gulf Institute
Member Institutions
Mississippi State University, University of Houston


The overall goal is to provide research results that will both provide (a) immediate contributions and (b) build a foundation for future beneficial research within NGI themes, NOAA goals, and BP research priorities. Specific primary objectives are to:

1. Provide early predictions of a representative hurricane ensemble so that pre-planning can be accomplished

2. Predict the physical distribution, dispersion and dilution of contaminants under the action of currents and storms in coastal estuaries

3. Determine environmental effects of the oil/dispersant system on shallow water habitats, wetlands, and beach sediments, and the science of ecosystem recovery

4. Improve understanding of biological degradation of the oil/dispersant systems and subsequent interaction with the marine and coastal ecosystems

5. Provide a Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning toolkit for displaying results useful in recovery management

6. Produce a sound scientific base and plans for multi-institutional  research that will fully address BP’s priorities within NGI’s mission

The work will be accomplished in five interrelated tasks:

A. Hurricane Effects

B. Fate and Transport of Oil and Dispersants

C. Natural Systems

D. Technology and Data Integration

E. Innovations

Task A will examine the impact of six tropical cyclone scenarios on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill for the Northern Gulf Coast by 15 August 2010. Recommendations for further research in Phase 2 will also be made based on these results for studies after the 2010 Gulf hurricane season. Task B will focus on indentifying and applying available calibrated hydrologic and hydraulic models of Gulf estuaries, demonstrating how they may be used to assess the long-term impacts of the oil spill (e.g. on hypoxia, sequestration in sediments, toxicity to algae, etc.), establishing and prioritizing remedial actions, and indentifying deficiencies in the literature impacting or introducing uncertainty into those predictions, such as kinetic rates impacting fate. Task C will assess early responses of intertidal habitats to oil/dispersant contamination and interaction between oil/dispersant system and soil/sediment microbial assemblages. Task D will make the results of Tasks A, B, and C accessible and understandable and build a foundation for future research by providing a platform and mechanism for integration of results.

This research was made possible by a grant from BP/The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative.