Oil spills in estuaries are less studied and less understood than their oceanic counterparts. To address this gap, we present a detailed analysis of estuarine oil spill transport. We develop and analyse a range of simulations for the Humber Estuary, using a coupled hydrodynamic and oil spill model. The models were driven by river discharge at the river boundaries and tidal height data at the offshore boundary. Satisfactory model performance was obtained for both model calibration and validation. Some novel findings were made: (a) there is a statistically significant (p < 0.05) difference in the influence of hydrodynamic conditions (tidal range, stage and river discharge) on oil slick transport; and (b) because of seasonal variation in river discharge, winter slicks released at high water did not exhibit any upstream displacement over repeated tidal cycles, while summer slicks travelled upstream into the estuary over repeated tidal cycles. The implications of these findings for operational oil spill response are: (i) the need to take cognisance of time of oil release within a tidal cycle; and (ii) the need to understand how the interaction of river discharge and tidal range influences oil slick dynamics, as this will aid responders in assessing the likely oil trajectories.
Bibliographical noteThis is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative
Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/),
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium,
provided the original work is properly cited.
This research was funded by the UKRI Global Challenges Research Fund via the School of Energy, Construction and Environment at Coventry University, UK.
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
FunderThis research was funded by the UKRI Global Challenges Research Fund via the School of Energy, Construction and Environment at Coventry University, UK.
- Oil spills
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Civil and Structural Engineering
- Water Science and Technology
- Ocean Engineering