Forecasting system for predicting the dynamics of oil spill in a tide-dominated estuary

Chijioke D. Eke, Babatunde Anifowose, Marco Van De Wiel, Damian Lawler, Michiel Knaapen

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Crude oil is predicted to become one of the most detrimental sources of anthropogenic pollution to estuaries. A comprehensive survey of oil spill literature since 1968 reveals that estuaries have received much less research attention than coastal and marine environments. There is a significant risk of oil spill on the Humber estuary as it is the main east coast port for hydrocarbon landing in the UK. However, no numerical study has been undertaken to understand oil spill dynamics in the estuary. To address this gap, we develop a high-resolution prediction model for understanding tidal influence on oil spills in a tide-dominated estuary. The oil spill prediction model comprises a hydrodynamic and oil spill model developed in TELEMAC-3D. The river boundary of the Humber estuary simulation is forced by high-resolution 15-minutes stage data. The offshore boundary is driven by 34 astronomical components obtained from a well validated model (i.e. FES2014), including estuarine water temperature and salinity. The hydrodynamic model is calibrated and validated against measured water levels obtained from Immingham port along the Humber estuary. The calibrated model shows good agreement with measured data during the validation process. The oil spill model takes into account wind speed and direction to simulate a range of oil spill scenarios in the Humber estuary. Results provide a reasonable understanding of the behaviour of oil spills, and reveal that oil slick advection in tide-dominated estuary is governed by tidal currents. Therefore, understanding the spring/neap and flood/ebb cycle is important to effectively deal with oil spill. This model will support operational response to future oil spills and it is equally applicable to other tide-dominated estuaries.

Original languageEnglish
Article number684312
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Oil Spill Conference Proceedings
Issue number1
Early online dateMay 2021
Publication statusPublished - 3 Dec 2021
Event2020 International oil spill conference - Virtual
Duration: 10 May 202113 May 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Waste Management and Disposal


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