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.


Environmental

Shenzhen Port to Adopt China ECA Regulation

China's Shenzhen port is set to to adopt requirements for ships at berth requiring to burn marine fuel with sulfur content not exceeding 0.5 percent starting October this year,

SMM 2016: World Premieres from around the Globe

Some 50,000 trade visitors from the whole of the world are expected in Hamburg for the start of SMM in less than two weeks. And once again, it is fully booked – with a total of more than 2,

South Asia Meet on Oil, Chemical Spill Contingency Plan

A meeting to update South Asia’s regional plan for oil and chemical pollution preparedness and response is underway in Male, Maldives (22-25 August), informs  International

Education/Training

South Africa Workshop Promotes Ship Energy Efficiency

An International Maritime Organization (IMO) workshop is raising awareness of the Organization’s regulatory regime dealing with improving energy efficiency and

MN100: SeaSchool

The Company: Sea School prides itself on remaining ahead of the competition with over 36 years experience in dealing with Coast Guard Licensing, Regulations, and Maritime Education.

Connected Ships, Smart Data, Cybersecurity to Feature in SHIPPINGInsight

Ship connectivity, smart data and cybersecurity will be central themes on the agenda at the fifth SHIPPINGInsight Fleet Optimization Conference & Exhibition. The

Salvage

El Faro Captain Ordered Crew to Abandon Ship before Sinking

The captain of the doomed El Faro cargo ship sounded an alarm for his crew to abandon the vessel shortly before it sank last fall in a hurricane near the Bahamas, killing all 33 onboard, the U.

26 Hours of Information Recovered from El Faro's VDR

A group led by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has gathered information from the recovered voyage data recorder (VDR) of sunken cargo ship

The Economics of Ship Breaking & Scrapping

Sometimes being an industry supplier offers interesting insights – your business is touched by the ups and downs of the charter market, but you are never so involved

Coast Guard

El Faro Captain Ordered Crew to Abandon Ship before Sinking

The captain of the doomed El Faro cargo ship sounded an alarm for his crew to abandon the vessel shortly before it sank last fall in a hurricane near the Bahamas, killing all 33 onboard, the U.

Navy Discovers Malaysian Tanker

Indonesia's navy has found a tanker carrying almost US$400,000 worth of diesel that was taken by its own crew last week due to a commercial dispute, says a report in AFP.

Philippines: Sea Dispute Won't Shift Ties with China, U.S.

The Philippines' territorial dispute with China over the South China Sea has not caused Manila to rebalance diplomatic ties with either its ally, the United States,

People in the News

Why Maritime Museums Matter

With today’s focus on digital technology, mobile apps, enhanced reality and the overall digital landscape, the maritime industry often gets overshadowed, leaving some to ask,

J.F. Lehman Acquires Oldenburg's Heavy Equipment Group

J.F. Lehman & Company (JFLCO) informs it has signed a definitive agreement with Oldenburg Group Incorporated to acquire its Heavy Equipment Group, including both its defense and mining business units.

Wärtsilä Re-gasification system for Norwegian Ship Conversion

Wärtsilä has been contracted to supply the re-gasification system for an FSRU (Floating, Storage, Re-gasification Unit) conversion project that Höegh LNG plans to carry out on a modern LNG vessel.

Government Update

Cochin Port Gets a Little 'Breathing Space'

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs of India, chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has given its approval for waiver of penal interest on Government

Iran Vessels Make 'High Speed Intercept' of US Ship

Four of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) vessels "harassed" a U.S. warship on Tuesday near the Strait of Hormuz, a U.S. defense official said, amid

El Faro Captain Ordered Crew to Abandon Ship before Sinking

The captain of the doomed El Faro cargo ship sounded an alarm for his crew to abandon the vessel shortly before it sank last fall in a hurricane near the Bahamas, killing all 33 onboard, the U.

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Contracts Pod Propulsion Port Authority Salvage Ship Electronics Ship Repair Ship Simulators Sonar 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: 0.0973 sec (10 req/sec)