Oil Spill: advanced research in support to disaster prevention

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Starting from the second half of February, a large amount of tar landed on Israeli beaches as a consequence of an oil spill that occurred offshore. The Euro-Mediterranean Center on Climate Change has supported the Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre for the Mediterranean Sea (REMPEC) to simulate the transport of hydrocarbons at sea.

An event that is considered among the most serious pollution episodes ever occurred on the Israeli coasts and that brought tons of tar on an area of more than 170 km of coastline. In order to limit the enormous damage to marine and coastal ecosystems and to local communities, national, European and international institutions mobilized by deploying the most advanced scientific research and technology available. CMCC supported REMPEC, the Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre for the Mediterranean Sea established by the United Nations, and Israeli authorities to provide oil spill simulations in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. While REMPEC received a request of assistance from the competent authorities of Israel, with regards to the beaching of a large quantity of tar balls, CMCC, as a partner of the Mediterranean Operational Network for the Global Ocean Observing System (MONGOOS) and in collaboration with ORION, developed a series of activities by running MEDSLIK-II model to simulate the transport of the surface slick governed by the water currents and by the wind in the area that was interested in the accident. The synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images from the European Sentinel satellite were provided by the ORBITALEOS partner

“Our community is proud of supporting Maritime authorities to respond to such environmental disaster and to help them in performing investigation to identify polluters. I believe this is part of our contribution to the Ocean Decade and it demonstrates the usefulness of the European Copernicus Marine Environment Monitoring Service (CMEMS) and of our community model MEDSLIK-II” said Giovanni Coppini that directs the CMCC research on Ocean Predictions and Applications.

“During the emergency phase of the accident, the oil spill model MEDSLIK-II was efficiently run to forecast the oil drift and fate on a daily basis”, CMCC scientist Svitlana Liubartseva explains. “The model was forced by meteo-oceanographic datasets provided by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) and the Mediterranean Sea Analysis and Forecast System (Clementi et al., 2019) maintained in the framework of CMEMS, it is developed and operationaly run by CMCC and available for visualization here. MEDSLIK-II simulations allowed realistically representation of the spatio-temporal oil distributions.”

This is the latest application of the CMCC advanced research in support of the prevention of consequences occurring from oil spill. In cases like these, in fact, the application of cutting-edge innovation, the use of marine weather data, the availability of tools resulting from the most advanced research, are critical to limit the damage that these severe accidents cause to ecosystems and local communities.


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