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Gulf Oil Slick Dragon Tail Enters Loop Current

Posted by feww on May 20, 2010

It looks very scary: Russian cosmonaut

As the Tail of Deepwater Horizon Oil Slick Dragon Enters Loop Current Moving Toward Atlantic Ocean, its Ugly Head Penetrates Louisiana Shore

As the tail of BP oil spill enters the powerful  Atlantic-bound Loop Current, the astronauts and cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station report  seeing the oil spill while passing over the Gulf of Mexico.

“It looks very scary,” Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kotov told reporters via a communication link.

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill trajectory hindcast/forecast based on RTOFS (Atlantic)


This is a joint effort of the Ocean Circulation Group and the Optical Oceanography Laboratory at College of Marine Science, University of South Florida to track/predict the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico using simulated drifters/particles. Drifter trajectories were calculated based on the hourly surface currents from the RTOFS (Atlantic) (data assimilative numerical ocean model hindcast & forecast). Click here for animation page.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal who toured the contaminated shoreline said:

“The day that we have all been fearing is upon us today. This wasn’t tar balls. This wasn’t sheen. This is heavy oil in our wetlands. It’s already here but we know more is coming.”

[NOTE: NASA E/O Headline reads: Gulf Oil Slick Approaching Loop Current. NASA Earth Observatory says the 2nd of the following two images was acquired on May 18. However, it was posted as their image of the day on May 20.  By then the oil slick had already entered the Loop Current.]


Download large image
(2 MB, JPEG) acquired May 1 – 8, 2010 — Click image to enlarge.


Download large image
(653 KB, JPEG) acquired May 18, 2010 —Click image to enlarge.

Original Caption:

During the first weeks following the explosion at the Deepwater Horizon well in the Gulf of Mexico, oil drifting from the site of the incident usually headed west and northwest to the Mississippi River Delta. But in the third week of May, currents drew some of the oil southeast. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the southward spread increased the chance that the oil would become mixed up with the Loop Current and spread to Florida or even the U.S. East Coast.

This pair of sea surface temperature images shows how the warm waters of the Loop Current connect the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean (top image, May 1–8, 2010) and the dynamic northern margin of the Loop Current a week and a half later, on May 18 (bottom image). Based on observations of infrared energy collected by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite, the images show cooler temperatures in blue and purple and warmer temperatures in pink and yellow. Cloudy areas are light gray.

The Loop Current pushes up into the Gulf from the Caribbean Sea. The current’s tropical warmth makes it stand out from the surrounding cooler waters of the Gulf of Mexico in this image. The current loses its northward momentum about mid-way through the gulf, and bends back on itself to flow south. It joins warm waters flowing eastward between Florida and Cuba, which then merge with the Gulf Stream Current on its journey up the East Coast.

At a May 18 press conference, NOAA reported that “satellite imagery on May 17 indicates that the main bulk of the oil is dozens of miles away from the Loop Current, but that a tendril of light oil has been transported down close to the Loop Current. NOAA is conducting aerial observations today to determine with certainty whether oil has actually entered the Loop Current…. The proximity of the southeast tendril of oil to the Loop Current indicates that oil is increasingly likely to become entrained. When that occurs, oil could reach the Florida Straits in 8 to 10 days.”

The bottom image shows the location of the leaking well and the approximate location of the southern arm of the oil slick on May 17 (based on natural-color MODIS imagery). Oil was very close to the Loop Current, whose warm waters appear in yellow near the bottom of the image. However, there is also an eddy of cooler water (purple) circulating counterclockwise at the top of the Loop Current. According to NOAA, “Some amount of any oil drawn into the Loop Current would likely remain in the eddy, heading to the northeast, and some would enter the main Loop Current, where it might eventually head to the Florida Strait.”
NASA Earth Observatory image created by Jesse Allen. Caption by Rebecca Lindsey.

Earlier Image:


Download large image
(1 MB, JPEG) acquired May 18, 2010 —Click image to enlarge.

Sunlight and oil colored the surface waters of the Gulf of Mexico around the Mississippi Delta on May 18, 2010, as MODIS on NASA’s Aqua satellite acquired this natural-color image. The sunglint accentuates the left-to-right scans that the satellite sensor makes as it passes over the Earth’s surface, and the stripes are perpendicular to the satellite’s path. Besides hinting at the sensor’s scans, the sunglint also illuminates oil slicks on the sea surface. Bright oil slicks appear east and southeast of the delta. As in earlier images, the oil slick spans many kilometers off the delta. Not all of the pale-hued water, however, is slicked with oil. Image and [edited] caption: NASA E/O.

How to Preserve [syn: Mummify] The Gulf of Mexico for Posterity

The following images are handout released by Greenpeace (via Reuters) — Click image to enlarge.


A Greenpeace Campaigner attempts to save a small crab covered in oil walking near the mouth of the Mississippi River in Louisiana, where it enters the Gulf of Mexico, May 18, 2010.


Oil covers the bank of the breakwater in the mouth of the Mississippi River in Louisiana, where it enters the Gulf of Mexico.


Reeds on the banks of the breakwater in the mouth of the Mississippi River are covered in crude oil-dispersant chemical mic, May 18, 2010.

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3 Responses to “Gulf Oil Slick Dragon Tail Enters Loop Current”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by itsteamdamon and isf supportger, mrssexyhalder. mrssexyhalder said: A smaller moment can destroy so many lives… https://feww.wordpress.com/2010/05/20/gulf-oil-slick-enters-loop-current/ @ISF_SupportGER […]

  2. nameeta said

    Please could you furnish us the total loss and the Insurance Impact?

    • feww said

      What’s the total cost of a nearly-as-new planet?
      Insurance is a subset of the economy. Economy is a subset of ecology.
      You can’t measure ecological loss on an economical scale.

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