Cloud
News
5/28/2010
11:33 AM
50%
50%

Supercomputer Builds 3D Model Of Gulf Oil Spill

Simulations run at the University of Texas are helping researchers adapt the Advanced Circulation Model to map a trajectory of the Deepwater Horizon spill.

The National Science Foundation has freed up 1 million computer hours on a supercomputer at the Texas Advanced Computing Center at the University of Texas in Austin to create simulations for a 3-D model to help predict the trajectory of the Gulf oil spill.

Two researchers at the university -- Clinton Dawson and Gordon Wells -- are working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Marine Pollution Surveillance team to help forecast the spill's movement and location, Wells said in an interview.

Specifically, researchers are adapting a model developed in the 1980s to map hurricane storm surges, called the Advanced Circulation Model, to track the spill in the Gulf. It's the first time the model has been used in this way, Wells, a research associate, said in an interview.

Researchers at the University of North Carolina and Notre Dame University -- where the creator of the Advanced Circulation Model, Joannes Westerink, is a professor -- also are taking part in the effort.

There are several advantages to using the Advanced Circulation Model over existing models used to track spills, Wells said.

He said that models currently used are merely two dimensional and represent only surface ocean currents, whereas the Advanced Circulation Model factors in more geophysical parameters, such as wind and wave components, and estuary and river flows.

It's also a more spatially detailed model that provides more definition of the impact region of the spill, he said.

A host of government agencies, including NASA and the Department of Homeland Security, have contributed technology to help in the spill's clean-up efforts, which are in their fifth week.

Some estimate that as much as 22 million gallons of oil have spilled into the Gulf of Mexico since April 20 when the oil rig Deepwater Horizon, which gas giant BP was leasing, exploded and sank, killing 11 people. Experts are calling the spill the worst in U.S. history. The spill recently reached the lower delta of the Mississippi River, which is where Wells said researchers are currently tracking it.

He said the modeling project has funding for at least the next several months and could last until the end of the year.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
2014 Next-Gen WAN Survey
2014 Next-Gen WAN Survey
While 68% say demand for WAN bandwidth will increase, just 15% are in the process of bringing new services or more capacity online now. For 26%, cost is the problem. Enter vendors from Aryaka to Cisco to Pertino, all looking to use cloud to transform how IT delivers wide-area connectivity.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Tech Digest, Nov. 10, 2014
Just 30% of respondents to our new survey say their companies are very or extremely effective at identifying critical data and analyzing it to make decisions, down from 42% in 2013. What gives?
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.