MRO Magazine

Innovative Scientific Research to be Released at Upcoming Oil Spill & Ecosystem Science Conference

By Business Wire News   


Marine snow, red snapper impacts and novel marsh shoreline assessments are a few of the topics to be presented on at the 2016 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill & Ecosystem Science Conference, occurring February 1-4, 2016 in Tampa, Florida. The four-day Conference will host 18 scientific sessions with 286 oral presentations and 243 poster presentations, bringing together oil spill-related experts from academia, state & federal agencies, non-governmental organizations and industry to share the latest oil spill and ecosystem scientific discoveries, innovations, technologies and policies. The conference will also have special emphasis on the human dimensions of an oil spill, specifically focusing on sharing opportunities to promote and sustain a healthy Gulf environment, community, and economy.

A few interesting scientific presentations to note:

  • Marine Aggregates – Material Transport in the Deep Gulf of Mexico, Arne Diercks, University of Southern Mississippi:
    What happened to the oil that was released in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill but never detected? Scientists think the answer may lie in “marine snow,” aggregates of varying size made up of sediment and organic detritus that form like tiny snowballs. Some of these naturally occurring aggregates then coalesce with oil droplets to form oily “snow storms.” During the upcoming conference, scientists will present on their latest research of oil-laden marine snow using underwater cameras to capture the snow’s gradual descent to the seafloor. When combined with year-long observations of the snow’s accumulation rates and settling speeds through the use of velocity monitors and sediment traps, these time series images are providing new insights into the fate of the missing oil.
  • Acute and Chronic Impacts of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill on Red Snapper in the Northern Gulf of Mexico, William Patterson, University of Southern Alabama:
    From the sea surface to the seafloor, biota the size of microscopic plankton to large predatory sharks were impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, including commercially important species like red snapper, one of the most economically and ecologically important reef fish in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Scientists will present a comprehensive analysis of the impact of the oil spill on red snapper as well as the potential implications of these results on the future of the Gulf fishery. Using underwater robots (ROVs – Remotely Operated Vehicles) scientists combined surveys of red snapper abundance with laboratory toxicity tests to obtain a comprehensive picture of the overall impact of the spill on this species.
  • Assessing Oil Exposure in Gulf of Mexico Marshes, Jamie Holmes, Abt Associates:
    Coastal areas affected by oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill underwent vigorous assessment by Shoreline Cleanup teams, but there remained large tracts of marsh habitat that were virtually impossible to access by foot or boat due to their difficult terrain and isolation. At the upcoming February conference, scientists will present how they took to the air to overcome these obstacles, and in so doing helped further the field of oil spill response. Using radar, thermal, and infrared imagery captured by plane, researchers not only documented the presence of floating oil in the Gulf marsh habitats, but also provided evidence that the marshes had been oiled more than previously observed. By combining these methods with traditional shoreline assessments, the researchers propose a novel method for quantifying marsh shoreline oiling.

Other program highlights include:

  • Keynote address by Dr. Marcia McNutt, Editor-in-Chief of Science: One Gulf: Perspectives on Environmental and Health Data for Advancing Science and for Informed Decision-making;
  • Panel discussion with five leading Gulf experts on big data and Gulf research;
  • Closing plenary discussion, moderated by Dr. Chris Elfring of the National Academy of Sciences Gulf Research Program, facilitating individual session summaries and how the research presented during the week contributes to a healthy, sustainable and resilient Gulf;
  • Special screening of “Dispatches from the Gulf“; and
  • Several associated events and workshops. For a full list, click here.

A searchable database of abstracts for oral and poster presentations as well as the full Conference schedule is available online here. Click here to view the Conference schedule at a glance.

The registration fee will be waived for credentialed members of the media. Please send your contact information (name, media outlet, email, and phone) to Kristin Kracke and she will send you details on how to complete your complimentary registration online. Online registration will close on January 24, 2016. Onsite registration will be available.

For accommodation information, click here.

The Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill & Ecosystem Science Conference is made possible by an Executive Planning Committee and the generous support of the following organizations: Gulf Research Program, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, Gulf of Mexico University Research Consortium, Florida Institute of Oceanography, and Oceaneering, Inc.

For more information, visit the Conference website and follow the Conference on Facebook and Twitter (#OneGulf, #GulfScienceConference).

2016 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill & Ecosystem Science Conference
Kristin Kracke, 202-787-1644


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