The National Center for Atmospheric Research believes that oil from the leaking deep water rig in the Gulf of Mexico could impact much of America's East Coast by summer.
As reported by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research Thursday, scientists using a detailed computer modeling program have created a video image of what they feel is possible in the coming months.
"'I've had a lot of people ask me, ‘Will the oil reach Florida?'" says NCAR scientist Synte Peacock, who worked on the study. 'Actually, our best knowledge says the scope of this environmental disaster is likely to reach far beyond Florida, with impacts that have yet to be understood'" (video follows with more of this report and commentary):
The computer simulations indicate that, once the oil in the uppermost ocean has become entrained in the Gulf of Mexico's fast-moving Loop Current, it is likely to reach Florida's Atlantic coast within weeks. It can then move north as far as about Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, with the Gulf Stream, before turning east. Whether the oil will be a thin film on the surface or mostly subsurface due to mixing in the uppermost region of the ocean is not known. [...]
Peacock and her colleagues stress that the simulations are not a forecast because it is impossible to accurately predict the precise location of the oil weeks or months from now. Instead, the simulations provide an envelope of possible scenarios for the oil dispersal. The timing and course of the oil slick will be affected by regional weather conditions and the ever-changing state of the Gulf's Loop Current-neither of which can be predicted more than a few days in advance. The dilution of the oil relative to the source will also be impacted by details such as bacterial degradation, which are not included in the simulations.
Frightening to say the least.
Exit questions: Is this a likely scenario in the coming months or excessively dire? Assuming the former, what impact would this have on the economy and the elections in November?