Synthesis and crosscutting topics of the GoMRI special issue
Farrington, John W.
Burns, Kathryn A.
Leinen, Margaret S.
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In recent years, there have been significant advances in fluid dynamics/physical oceanography, microbiology, weathering, remote sensing, and analytical chemistry as they pertain to the fate and effects of oil spills. Effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on water column organisms and ecosystems have been difficult to ascertain. Laboratory experiments have expanded understanding of oil effects on phytoplankton and zooplankton. “Marine oil snow” has been identified as a significant factor in the fate of oil chemicals and their deposition with sediments. Oil chemicals and their effects on 24 km2 of mud-benthic communities surrounding the well site, and in a few other areas, have lasted several years. Some deep-sea corals have also been affected for several years, and oil chemicals and their effects in heavily oiled marsh areas are projected to last a decade or longer. Lightly oiled marsh areas have recovered or are recovering. Research about use of dispersants highlights the need to update the 2005 National Research Council study of dispersant use on oil spills. Ongoing research should provide some closure for the issues of long-term effects on fisheries and marine mammals, and impacts on human health. Practical uses of this new knowledge are discussed briefly.
Author Posting. © The Oceanography Society, 2016. This article is posted here by permission of The Oceanography Society for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Oceanography 29, no. 3 (2016): 204-213, doi:10.5670/oceanog.2016.84.