Video: The longterm fate of the oil spill in the Atlantic

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill is horrible and it’s only going to get worse even if the spill is eventually capped. This eye-opening animation constructed by a team of researchers from the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa doesn’t show what could happen in a year, but rather what’s pretty much unavoidable.

The team simulated the release of eight million buoyant particles being continuously released from April 20 to September 17, 2010 at Deepwater Horizon’s location. They found using ocean flow data simulations conducted with the Ocean General Circulation Model for the Earth Simulator that the the Florida Current running in the deep and narrow Straits of Florida creates a tight bottleneck, which forces up to 20% of the original particles into the Gulf Stream and then up the coast of the US and into the Atlantic. Even Florida’s strong Autumn winds were accounted for.

The animation data doesn’t account for items such such as tar balls, oil coagulation, and chemical degradation. Because of this the forecasted data might be slightly overestimated. The data shows, however, that the oil particles will flow with the Florida Current and therefore the best place for a large filtration system would be in the the narrowest spot of the Straits of Florida. [via treehugger]

It’s hard to watch the animation and not wonder at the longterm effects this oil is causing. So sad.