New software is capable of predicting the movement of an oil spill in the open sea in less than five minutes in order to avoid its extension, contamination and reduce socioeconomic and environmental costs.
It is a program developed by the company Digital Earth Solutions which, according to what its general director, Juan Roos, has assured Efe, is able to predict how it will behave in three to five days a spill on the ocean surface.
Thus, from this emerging company they design a forecast of its displacement at the mercy of marine currents, waves, tides and wind, which allows action to contain it.
Although they not only work with hydrocarbons, they also predict the “drifting movement of plastics, algae and even human bodies,” Roos said, both to find out their future trajectory and their origin.
The models currently in use, according to Roos, take “a few hours” in predicting the movement of particles in the ocean, since they use “old methods without incorporating the mathematical advances of the last fifteen years”, in contrast to the five minutes in which this program is capable of doing it.
Likewise, the software also allows to reduce costs, since the precise and immediate knowledge of how the spill or the particles will behave allows “concentrating collection efforts” to cut collection costs by 20% and reduce environmental impact by 70% as well as the socioeconomic impact -of industries or port, fishing or tourist companies affected by the spill-.
Currently, its developers study how to “automate” this software so that the client is able to use the map to “enter the amount of discharge, its density and the place to obtain the simulation” without having to contact this company directly to order the forecast, which would speed up the process.
The leak of ship OS35 and the protection of dolphins
Given the incident in the Strait of Gibraltar at the beginning of this month, in which there was a hydrocarbon leak from the ship ‘OS35’ after colliding with another ship, the marine biologist, Sara Pinto, from ‘Brutal’, an entity that collaborates with ‘Natura Strait’ and ‘Man and Territory’ in the ‘Study of microplastics in the Bay of Algeciras and impact on cetaceans’, he told Efe that asked this company for a prediction of the displacement of the discharge to protect the marine species in the area.
The strait is an environment with a “very high biodiversity of sperm whales, killer whales, dolphins” and other species, explained Pinto, so that in the event of the spill they used this program, which allowed them to “monitor the spill without being in the water all the time and without having to reach all the points on the coast”because from the computer they knew if “at any moment any population of dolphins, in which two days before we had observed calves, could be affected”.
Pinto explained that in the end they did not have to intervene because the spill did not reach the place where the dolphins were, but she was grateful because “thanks to the model” they would have known “where to act”.
A minimum of 400 merchant ships pass through the Strait of Gibraltar every day, so “any tool to predict this type of emergency” helps a lot, the biologist concluded.
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