Deepwater Horizon

Deepwater Horizon

Prompted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, a UC Santa Barbara scientist has come up with a new way of predicting how contaminants like oil will spread. He was able to forecast several days in advance that oil from that spill would wash ashore in particular parts of the Gulf of Mexico. “We predicted where the oil was going to go,” says Igor Mezic, a professor of mechanical engineering at UC Santa Barbara who studies fluid dynamics. “We were able to do 3-day predictions pretty accurately.”

In a paper published online Sept. 2 in Science Express, Mezic, together with Sophie Loire, a postdoctoral fellow who works with Mezic, and colleagues at the software development company Aimdyn, Inc. in Santa Barbara and at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, describe how they predicted the movement of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico after an explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon rig on April 20.

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