Oil slick off the Louisiana coast

April 29th, 2010 |
MODIS true color and false color RGB images (29 April 2010)

MODIS true color and false color RGB images (29 April 2010)

250-meter resolution MODIS true color and false color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) images from the SSEC MODIS Today site (above) showed that the oil slick resulting from the offshore oil rig fire and collapse (following an explosion on the night of 20 April 2010) continued to get closer to the coast of Louisiana on 29 April 2010. Along the far western edge of the oil slick, a small smoke plume can be seen drifting northeastward, due to a small controlled burn (the winds were from the southwest at altitudes of about 1 km and higher).

A comparison of MODIS true color images on 21, 22, 25, 29 April, and 01 May (below) show the original smoke plume from the burning oil rig, followed by the dramatic growth and change in shape of the oil slick during that period.

MODIS true color RGB images (21, 22, 25, 29 April and 01 May 2010)

MODIS true color RGB images (21, 22, 25, 29 April, and 01 May 2010)

An AWIPS image of the MODIS visible channel data with an overlay of buoy, ship, and ASCAT scatterometer winds (below) showed that southeasterly winds at the surface across the northern Gulf of Mexico were helping to move the oil slick closer to the Mississippi River Delta region of Louisiana.

MODIS visible image + surface buoy/ship data + ASCAT scatterometer winds

MODIS visible image + surface buoy/ship data + ASCAT scatterometer winds

The POES AVHRR Sea Surface Temperature (SST) product (below) revealed that the oil slick feature continued to exhibit SST values that were several degrees F cooler (upper 60s F, green colors) than the surrounding waters (lower 70s F, yellow to orange colors) — see a previous loop of AVHRR and MODIS SST images from 25-26 April. The very warm SST values (upper 70s to low 80s F, darker red colors) associated with the Gulf of Mexico Loop Current can be seen in the lower right corner of the image.

POES AVHRR Sea Surface Temperature (SST) product

POES AVHRR Sea Surface Temperature (SST) product

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