These animations show the spread of the oil spill from the Deepwater Horizon rig over one year. They were created from a series of computer simulations by a team of researchers at the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, University of Hawaii at Manoa: Fabian Schloesser from the Department of Oceanography, Axel Timmermann and Oliver Elison Timm from the International Pacific Research Center Hawaii.
For the simulations, 5 million buoyant particles were released continuously from April 20 to September 17, 2010, at the location of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. The release occurred in ocean flow data from simulations conducted with the high-resolution Ocean General Circulation Model for the Earth Simulator (OFES). The paths of the particles were calculated over 360 days from the beginning of the spill. The simulations were conducted with surface ocean circulation data of 5 typical years rather than the actual flow fields. The dispersal of the particles does not capture such effects as oil coagulation, formation of tar balls, chemical dispersion and microbial degradation. Computed surface concentrations relative to the actual spill may therefore be overestimated. The simulation, thus, is not a detailed, specific prediction, but rather a scenario that could help guide research and mitigation efforts.
(via Joe My God)