NOAA Releases Study on Deepwater Horizon Controlled Burns

Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Black smoke billows from a controlled burn of surface oil during the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. A new study by NOAA and the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) found that controlled burns released more than one million pounds of sooty black carbon into the atmosphere.

During the 2010 BP/Deepwater Horizon Gulf oil spill, an estimated one of every 20 barrels of spilled oil was deliberately burned off to reduce the size of surface oil slicks and minimize impacts of oil on sensitive shoreline ecosystems and marine life.

 

In response to the spill, NOAA quickly redirected its WP-3D research aircraft to survey the atmosphere above the spill site in June. During a flight through one of the black plumes, scientists used sophisticated instrumentation on board, including NOAA's single-particle soot photometer, to characterize individual black carbon particles. The black smoke that rose from the water’s surface during the controlled burns pumped more than 1 million pounds of black carbon (soot) pollution into the atmosphere, according to a new study published last week by researchers at NOAA and its Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) in Boulder, Colo.This amount is roughly equal to the total black carbon emissions normally released by all ships that travel the Gulf of Mexico during a 9-week period, scientists noted.

 

Black carbon, whose primary component is often called soot, is known to degrade air quality and contribute to warming of the Earth’s atmosphere. The new study, published online this week in Geophysical Research Letters, provides some of the most detailed observations made of black carbon sent airborne by burning surface oil.

 

“Scientists have wanted to know more about how much black carbon pollution comes from controlled burning and the physical and chemical properties of that pollution. Now we know a lot more,” said lead author Anne Perring, a scientist with CIRES and the Chemical Sciences Division of NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL) in Boulder, Colo.
Global surface temperature Anomalies - August 2011.

 

Black carbon is the most light-absorbing airborne particle in the atmosphere and the reason for the black color in the smoky plumes that rise from the surface oil fires. Black carbon can also cause warming of the atmosphere by absorbing light. Prolonged exposure to breathing black carbon particles from human and natural burning sources is known to cause human health effects. During the 9 weeks active surface oil burning, a total of 1.4 to 4.6 million pounds (0.63 to 2.07 million kilograms) of black carbon was sent into the atmosphere of the Gulf of Mexico, the study estimated.

 

The study found that the hot soot plumes from the controlled burns reached much higher into the atmosphere than ship emissions normally rise, potentially prolonging the amount of time the black carbon can remain in the atmosphere, which would affect where the black carbon ends up. The researchers also found that the average size of the black carbon particles was much larger than that emitted from other sources in the Gulf region, and that the emitted particles produced were almost all black carbon, unlike other sources such as forest fires that tend to produce other particles along with black carbon. “The size and makeup of the black carbon particles determine how fast the particles are removed from the atmosphere by various processes, which ultimately affects their impact on climate,” says Perring. Larger particles are removed from the atmosphere more quickly and thus have smaller climate impacts. And, those same properties of black carbon are important for assessing human health impacts.

 

Finally, Perring and her colleagues found that of the oil that was burned, 4 percent of the mass was released as black carbon, an important metric rarely observed during cleanup of an oceanic oil spill, which could help guide future decision-making. The new paper, Characteristics of Black Carbon Aerosol from a Surface Oil Burn During the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, has 15 co-authors from NOAA ESRL and CIRES and can be found on the Geophysical Research Letters website. As part of its response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the unified federal response team used controlled burns to remove oil from the open water in an effort to minimize impacts to the shoreline and marine and other wildlife. For more information about the federal response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and ongoing restoration efforts in the Gulf of Mexico, visit RestoreTheGulf.gov.

Maritime Today


The Maritime Industry's original and most viewed E-News Service

Maritime Reporter May 2016 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Environmental

US Navy Updated Zika Virus Infection Guidance

Navy Medicine released updated Zika Virus Infection guidance in NAVADMIN 121/16, May 26, communicating current information, travel precautions, and risk reduction

Seaspan Acquires Eighth 14000 TEU Vessel

Seaspan Corporation (NYSE:SSW) announced today that it accepted delivery of a 14000 TEU containership, the YM Width. The new containership, which was constructed at CSBC Corporation,

GloMEEP Project Forges Ahead with Train-the-Trainer Workshop

A global Train-the-Trainer workshop on energy efficiency has been delivered in China (23-27 May), preparing the personnel needed to cascade knowledge on energy

Education/Training

1,076 Graduate from U.S. Naval Academy

The U.S. Naval Academy graduated 1,076 men and women at the annual graduation and commissioning ceremony May 27 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. U.S. Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm.

OOCL Renews VOD Training Contract

Videotel, producer and distributor of training videos, 3D animation, and e-Learning courses to the maritime market and part of KVH Industries, Inc., (Nasdaq: KVHI),

Returning to the Scene of the Shipwrecks

A participant in a diving field school last fall, graduate student Tori Kiefer is back to help a new set of students learn the joy of surveying shipwrecks.   Last fall,

Coast Guard

Wedding Cruise Ship Runs Aground in Boston

The Boston Harbor Cruises' Majesty ran aground in Boston Harbor on Saturday. All 137 passengers were unharmed and transferred to the Asteria, another Boston Harbor Cruises vessel, according to the U.

CBP, AMO Unveils New Interceptor Vessel

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine Operations (AMO) and SAFE Boat International celebrated the unveiling of AMO’s newest coastal interceptor vessel (CIV) Thursday.

Details El Faro's Sinking Emerge from US Probe

U.S. investigators on Friday concluded two weeks of hearings into the sinking of cargo ship El Faro in a hurricane last fall that included reports the vessel had

People in the News

DNV GL’s Ellen Crivella Named 2016 Rising Star by Women of Wind Energy

DNV GL’s Ellen Crivella was honored with the 2016 Rising Star Award at the Women of Wind Energy (WoWE) luncheon at the 2016 AWEA Windpower Conference and Exhibition.

Wärtsilä Electrical Systems for SIEM RoRo Ferries

Wärtsilä has been awarded the contract to provide integrated turnkey electrical solutions for four new RoRo ferries being built at the Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft (FSG) yard in Germany.

APM Terminals Bahrain Push for Safety, IT systems

Hidd, Khalifa Bin Salman Port, Bahrain - APM Terminals Bahrain, operators of Khalifa bin Salman Port (KBSP), has recently made significant advances in Safety performance

Government Update

1,076 Graduate from U.S. Naval Academy

The U.S. Naval Academy graduated 1,076 men and women at the annual graduation and commissioning ceremony May 27 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. U.S. Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm.

Details El Faro's Sinking Emerge from US Probe

U.S. investigators on Friday concluded two weeks of hearings into the sinking of cargo ship El Faro in a hurricane last fall that included reports the vessel had

Defense Appropriations Bill Includes $1 Bln for US Icebreaker

The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee’s FY2017 Defense Appropriations Bill has included $1 billion in funding to accelerate construction of a new polar icebreaker for the U.

 
 
Maritime Contracts Maritime Security Naval Architecture Navigation Offshore Oil Pipelines Port Authority Ship Electronics Ship Simulators Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.0926 sec (11 req/sec)