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1307 Tosca Conclusions

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    Almost 3 years after the project started, TOSCA has proved capable of improving oil spill tracking systems. TOSCA has brought updated knowledge on surface currents and noticeable progress in the monitoring of oil slick drift. The added precisions and data collection from this project could now help authorities choose the right strategy for the deployment of drifters to track oil spills. This data could facilitate operations at sea as well as practical and administrative decision-making in the defense of coastlines and public health.

    The objective of this document is to:







    The TOSCA strategy

    The fundamental feature of the TOSCA project is the use of real

    observations to evaluate and correct numerical models that are currently

    producing oil spill forecasts.

    IMPROVING DECISION MAKING IN CASE OF MARITIME ACCIDENTThe TOSCA (Tracking Oil Spills & Coastal Awareness network) project is cofinanced by the European Regional Development Fund in the framework of the MED Programme. It intends to improve the quality and effectiveness of decision-making process in case of marine accidents concerning oil spill pollution and search and rescue (S&R) operations in the Mediterranean.

    AN INNOVATIVE APPROACHModeling and forecasting of transport by ocean currents are very sensitive and contingent upon unknown initial conditions, and even small errors in the current results in significant errors in the forecast of a drifting object. For this reason the TOSCA project has framed an innovative approach using HF radars and drifter measurements to provide crucial and complementary information to predict oil spill dispersion and trajectory more accurately.

    CREATION OF THE FIRST MEDITERRANEAN OBSERVATION NETWORKTo provide real-time observations and forecasts, an observational network, based on state of the art technology (HF radars, drifters, ocean modeling systems) was installed and assessed in five sites of the Mediterranean sea, on the coastal areas near the outlets of major existing or planned oil pipelines and on high traffic areas.

    AN INTENSIVE OBSERVATION AND EXPERIMENTAL PERIODTo test the monitoring and forecasting capabilities of the system, intensive periods of experimentation have taken place in the five test sites from December 2011 until October 2012.

    INTRODUCTION TO THE RESULT OF THE EXPERIMENTATIONS The major results of the analysis of the data set obtained during the experimental campaigns prove:

    The benefit of HF radars as a powerful tool to provide satisfactory estimation of transport and to improve our response to oil-spill and SAR emergencies.

    The benefit of an optimal drifter deployment strategy to be used to correct radar intrinsic errors or enhance models and to get direct information on oil spill transport and dispersion.

    The benefit of the TOSCA strategy to enhance numerical models and provide more accurate forecasts of the trajectory of oil spill, a wreckage or a lost person.

    Each Sea campaign included:

    Gathering of a large data set (real observations data) Testing of the numerical models by comparison with real observations Test and validation of different equipment to measure surface currents and consequent drifting trajectory.


    MONITORING OF AN OIL SPILLHF RADAR: A POWERFUL TOOL TO PROVIDE REAL-TIME VISIBILITY ON SURFACE CURRENTSThe TOSCA project observational network that was set up in five high-risk areas has showed that data from radars can provide real-time visibility of coastal surface currents. HF radars are the only way to obtain a relatively large coverage of surface currents (spatial and temporal resolution). The contribution of this data gives additional accuracy to the numerical forecasting models currently in use by improving the initial conditions. An important data set has been obtained during the in-situ campaigns, very diverse according to the configuration of the coast and the winds and currents of the area. This data set is accessible through the geographical Information system developed by the project: TOSCA GIS.

    DRIFTERS PUT THROUGH THEIR PACESDuring the experiments, TOSCA partners attested that drifters could supply crucial data on currents and on the transport of oil-spills. The evaluation of different designs of drifters has emphasized the most suitable type to be used according to the operation (oil-spill or S&R). Moreover, an optimal deployment of groups of several floating buoys provides direct information on dispersion and how long it takes for a slick to double in size. In that sense, drifters could enable authorities to focus search or cleanup operations within a more clearly defined area in the case of a maritime accident.

    Tracking the slick, day and night

    While very common in the United States, the use of radars for observing surface currents is still quite new in Europe. A better knowledge of surface currents does significantly improve capacities for tracking drift pathways. Moreover, HF radars observations can improve the model initial conditions, can complement the daytime satellite and aerial monitoring, and can be used as ground truth for backtracking calculations.

    Drifters, a convenient and inexpensive mean

    of action

    The drifters are a convenient and inexpensive mean of

    action, complementary to radar. Drifters can be released

    easily in the water, both by ship and by aircraft. Drifters provide information on the

    current and direct information on transport and the relative

    dispersion of an oil spill.

  • STRATEGIES TO IMPROVE EXISTING FORECASTING SYSTEMSDuring TOSCA, techniques aiming at improving existing forecasting systems through radars and drifters observations have been developed. One of the main results of this strategy is the LAVA software, described in the TOSCA tools section.

    FORECASTING AN OIL SPILL TRAJECTORYIMPROVING OIL SPILL/TRAJECTORY FORECAST IN CASE OF A MARITIME ACCIDENTMonitoring and forecasting material transport in areas of high pollution risk is of major importance for controlling and mitigating damages caused by a maritime accident. Modeling systems (using atmospheric and oceanic predictions to provide the background for pollutants dispersion forecasts) are becoming a powerful tool in the hands of local authorities and public administrations involved in environmental and maritime safety issues.

    Five such systems have been implemented and validated in 5 test sites around the Mediterranean Sea (Balearic Islands, Northwestern Mediterranean, Gulf of Napoli, Gulf of Trieste and North Aegean). At each test site, forecasting simulations have been performed, at the same time when HF radar and drifter track observations were available, to test the accuracy of the models and identify the source and type of errors.

  • CONSTRUCTION OF AN OBSERVATIONAL NETWORK BASED ON STATE OF THE ART TECHNOLOGYThrough the construction of an observational network, based on state of the art technology (HF radars and drifters), the project has provided, during the experimentation periods, real-time observations and forecasts of the marine environmental conditions in the Western and Eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea. If the use of radars and drifters were to be extended, the observational network could deliver real-time information to the relevant authorities.


    Example of a Spill Track drifter

    Specially adapted for TOSCA, Spill Track is designed to monitor oil

    spill position in the sea using fins made from lipophilic material. These

    drifters are designed to better stick to the oil spill.

    OPTIMIZATION OF DRIFTERS ACCORDING TO THE TYPE OF OPERATION (OIL-SPILL TRACKING OR SAR OPERATIONS) During the TOSCA experiments, different designs of drifters were made available by partners in view of assessing their water or oil-following capabilities and define the most suitable type to be used according to the operation (oil-spill or S&R). All drifters have been optimized with state-of-the-art communication technologies, allowing an easy set-up and regular communication on their successive positions.

    Exemple of the monitoring system installed in the Gulf of Naples

    The Gulf of Naples monitoring network comprises five automatic weather stations distributed along the coasts of the Gulf. In addition to the above instruments, a CODAR-SeaSonde HF coastal radar system composed of three antennas is located in Portici, Massa Lubrense and Castellammare. The system has provided during the experiments, hourly data of surface currents over the entire gulf with a 1km spatial resolution.

  • TOSCA GIS: HELPING DECISION MAKING IN CASE OF A MARITIME ACCIDENT The data gathered by the project have been combined into a web based decision tool designed for authorities in charge of a maritime crisis. Based on the needs of local authorities from the Mediterranean basin, the system could be implemented at local level and provide critical data and applications:

    Access to updated information concerning surface currents. Visualize ocean currents and dispersion of an oil spill. Simulate the pathway of a floating object according to observed and modeled surface currents.

    Illustration of the impact of the correction made to the model on transport of an object.

    The black dots show the successive positions of the floating buoys used, the green dots correspond to those predicted using the nu

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