Friday, June 4, 2010

Has BP Ruined the Entire Atlantic Basin?

This video paints a dismaying picture:



Via Mother Jones, which says:
The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) just released this horrifying animation of how ocean currents may carry all the oil in the Gulf of Mexico. According to their computer modeling of currents and the oil, the spill "might soon extend along thousands of miles of the Atlantic coast and open ocean as early as this summer."

"I've had a lot of people ask me, 'Will the oil reach Florida?'" says NCAR scientist Synte Peacock in a statement accompanying the animation, which he worked on. "Actually, our best knowledge says the scope of this environmental disaster is likely to reach far beyond Florida, with impacts that have yet to be understood."

The models show oil hitting Florida's Atlantic coast within a few weeks, then moving north as far as about Cape Hatteras, N.C., before heading east.
One question I haven't seen answered is: at what level of dispersion is the oil no longer harmful? I assume that if a hundred million gallons were distributed evenly throughout the world's oceans, it wouldn't even be noticeable, and would biodegrade in no time. But somewhere between that, and the actual conditions we have - giant plumes and enormous sheens concentrated in the northern Gulf of Mexico - is the threshhold beyond which dispersion takes care of the problem. I don't know what that threshhold is - whether, for instance, the quantities shown swirling about in the mid-Atlantic in this animation would still be dangerous to ecosystems. At the least, though, this looks bad for pretty much the entire coast of Florida.

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