GoMRI RFP-V: Transport & fate of oil in the upper ocean (Meneveau)


The Transport and fate of oil in the upper ocean: Studying and modeling multi-scale physical dispersion mechanisms and remediation strategies using Large Eddy Simulation project is lead by P.I. Charles Meneveau, Johns Hopkins University.

In the aftermaths of deep water blowouts, oil plumes rise through and interact with various layers of the ocean and arrive in the upper ocean. There, several physical dispersion mechanisms such as turbulence, Langmuir circulations and sub-mesoscale eddies affect their evolution. Numerical modeling of these processes is playing an increasingly important role for estimating total oil spill volume and rate of biodegradation, planning for dispersant injection, and predictions/postdictions in general.

The research activities have four main goals: (i) develop a transport model for evolution of entire distributions of oil droplet sizes in LES and effects of dispersants on the size distribution. To address this goal, a multi-species LES framework will be developed to model droplet population dynamics (droplets of various sizes), and their interactions with surfactants. Another goal is to (ii) develop the Extended Nonperiodic Domain LES for Scalar Transport (ENDLESS) methodology that enables simulating plumes extending over physical scales that greatly exceed the size of the computational LES domain and thus couples the transport with outputs from larger (meso or sub-meso) scale regional ocean models. The ENDLESS method will be validated by comparing with CARTHE Lagrangian drifter data that covers many orders of magnitude of relevant length and time scales. (iii) By means of a series of simulations, explore effects of dispersants on plume evolution for both underwater and surface application of oil dispersants, with various overall dosage, release rates and locations, under various wind and wave conditions. (iv) Results will be used to develop engineering tools for rapid real-time assessment and parameterizations for regional scale ocean models.