Image via NASA Goddard Photo and Video
Yesterday I was perusing infographics on global oil spills over the years - a great way to feel disturbed and depressed in under an hour - and wondered how it is we even calculate the amount of oil lost in leaks. Turns out, the Oil Spill Training Company Limited has an app called The Slick Calculator And Reporter, which uses the Bonn Agreement Code -- an internationally recognized system -- to generate the calculations. By using the appearance of the overall spill and estimated oil thickness, it can figure out the volume of oil in the water. And what's more, there's a second software program that let's you click around to see what might happen should a well keep gushing.
In a post by D. Salmons on Cleantechies, the smart software's potential is explained. "The software uses either aerial photography or surface measurements of an oil spill. Drawing and input tools allows the spills to be measured, and the comparison to the Bonn Agreement code gives the volume, once the range is calculated. Once the size of the spill is known, then it can be reported to the inter-related agencies using the known standard. From there the focus is not on the size of the spill, but rather coordinated containment efforts."
Another set of software from the GNOME (General NOAA Operational Modeling Environment) can track the oil spill through modeling and figure out what the impact is likely to be. You can even download it to your computer, enter the spill, input details like the type and amount of oil was spilled, and select a time in the future to see what might happen.
Check out the Cleantechies post for a "What If" scenario tested out.
A major point made by the post is that this software allows anyone with a computer and access to data about the spill online to understand what is going on in the gulf and what potential impact it may have - we aren't limited to news sources, which is a good thing considering they're having a tough time gathering information.
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