14 October 2015 Spreading of oil films on the sea surface: radar/optical observations and physical mechanisms
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Abstract
Marine slicks are one of the most common features on the sea surface and a significant part of the slicks is a result of accidental or deliberate oil spills. The shape of oil slicks is their important characteristic that can be used to identify the nature of slick signatures in radar or optical images of the sea surface and possibly to describe them quantitatively. Nowadays, however, there is a lack of systematic experiments with slicks, and the very physical mechanisms of slick spreading are still not well understood. This paper presents results of controlled experiments with spills of surfactants, and a possible physical mechanism of slick asymmetry is discussed. Experiments with artificial film slicks were carried out in different environmental conditions: from an Oceanographic Platform on the Black Sea, and from a vessel on the Gorky Water Reservoir. Slick shape and its evolution were studied using photographic methods, and satellite radar imagery. In the satellite experiments surfactants were poured on the surface at certain time intervals before the satellite overpass. It is obtained that film spreading is not axial symmetric, and the spills are stretched along the wind, a long-to-short slick axis ratio weakly depends on spreading time and grows with wind speed. A physical mechanism of slick deformation due to mean surface currents induced by wind waves is proposed. Namely, drift currents induced by oblique propagating surface waves increase in film slicks due to enhanced wave damping and these currents result in reduced spreading rate in the cross wind direction. Theoretical analysis of slick spreading accounting for the effect of surface waves is presented, and theoretical estimates are shown to be consistent with experiment.
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Stanislav Ermakov, Stanislav Ermakov, Ivan Kapustin, Ivan Kapustin, Irina Sergievskaya, Irina Sergievskaya, Jose da Silva, Jose da Silva, } "Spreading of oil films on the sea surface: radar/optical observations and physical mechanisms", Proc. SPIE 9638, Remote Sensing of the Ocean, Sea Ice, Coastal Waters, and Large Water Regions 2015, 963807 (14 October 2015); doi: 10.1117/12.2195004; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2195004
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