Oil Spills


Rapid Response at Sea

As sea ice continues to melt in the Arctic and oil exploration expands in the region, the possibility of an oil spill occurring under ice is higher than ever. To help first responders cope with oil trapped under ice, ocean engineers are developing undersea vehicles that can map oil spills to improve situational awareness and decision making during an emergency.

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Oil Spills

Oil in the Ocean The systematic study of oil in the ocean is relatively new to science, but since the…

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Sunlight Reduces Effectiveness of Dispersants Used in Oil Spills

Sunlight Reduces Effectiveness of Dispersants Used in Oil Spills

A research team led by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) found that sunlight chemically alters crude oil floating on the sea surface within hours or days. In a follow-up study the team reported that sunlight changes oil into different compounds that dispersants cannot easily break up. The results of these two studies could affect how responders decide when, where, and how to use dispersants.

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To Track an Oil Spill

To Track an Oil Spill

WHOI scientists are helping to develop a robotic underwater vehicle that can track oil spills and help responders mitigate damage in remote or ice-covered areas such as the Arctic Ocean and the Great Lakes.

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Did Dispersants Help Responders Breathe Easier?

Did Dispersants Help Responders Breathe Easier?

Seven years after the disastrous Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the decision to inject chemical dispersants into the deep ocean has remained contentious. New evidence reveals an unexpected benefit.

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Dispersants Improved Air Quality for Responders at Deepwater Horizon

Dispersants Improved Air Quality for Responders at Deepwater Horizon

A study published Aug. 28, 2017, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences adds a new dimension to the controversial decision to inject large amounts of chemical dispersants immediately above the crippled oil well at the seafloor during the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010. The dispersants may have significantly reduced the amount of harmful gases in the air at the sea surface’”diminishing health risks for emergency responders and allowing them to keep working to stop the uncontrolled spill and clean up the spilled oil sooner.

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Scientists and Navy Join Forces

Scientists and Navy Join Forces

When U.S. Navy were preparing a major NATO military exercise, they solicited help from WHOI scientists to plan how to mitigate potential environmental damage from oil spills.

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