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Proceedings Paper

Drift and shape of oil slicks on the water surface
Author(s): Stanislav A. Ermakov; Olga A. Danilicheva; Ivan A. Kapustin; Aleksandr A. Molkov
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Paper Abstract

Evolution of film slicks on the sea surface is a very important problem, particularly in application to monitoring of pollution transport in the ocean and in the coastal areas. The geometry of film slicks is determined by physical characteristics of surface films and by environmental parameters. At present our understanding of the role of geophysical processes controlling the slick dynamics is still insufficient. This is partly because of the luck of systematic studies of film slicks in controlled experiments. A perspective approach to the problem solution is organization of special experiments with artificial slicks formed by films with known characteristics. Previously we reported on the results of some experiments and proposed a simple model of spreading of surfactant spills accounting for the surface stresses induced by wind waves. In this paper new results of experiments on oil spill evolution are presented and physical mechanisms of this evolution are discussed. The experiments were conducted on the Gorky Water Reservoir. Surfactants (oleic acid) were spilled out from a motor boat. The slick shape was studied using aerial photography and a methodology of contouring slicks using a motor boat with a GPS receiver onboard. It is obtained that the cross-wind slick size grows quite slowly with time being almost independent on wind, while the growth rate of the along-wind axis increases rapidly with wind velocity. To explain the observed effects a mechanism of “oil overflow” is hypothesized. It describes the movement of surfactants from an upwind slick side to its downwind side due to the action of along-wind wave induced stresses. This process should contribute also to some additional drift velocity of slicks. The conclusion about the drift is consistent with a hypothesis, discussed in the literature that oil slicks move faster than the surrounding water surface microlayer.

Paper Details

Date Published: 14 October 2019
PDF: 7 pages
Proc. SPIE 11150, Remote Sensing of the Ocean, Sea Ice, Coastal Waters, and Large Water Regions 2019, 111500J (14 October 2019);
Show Author Affiliations
Stanislav A. Ermakov, Institute of Applied Physics (Russian Federation)
Olga A. Danilicheva, Institute of Applied Physics (Russian Federation)
Ivan A. Kapustin, Institute of Applied Physics (Russian Federation)
Aleksandr A. Molkov, Institute of Applied Physics (Russian Federation)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 11150:
Remote Sensing of the Ocean, Sea Ice, Coastal Waters, and Large Water Regions 2019
Charles R. Bostater Jr.; Xavier Neyt; Françoise Viallefont-Robinet, Editor(s)

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