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Technological Advances in Drifters for Oil Transport Studies

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Abstract

Advances in drifter technology applied to oil spill studies from 1970 to the present are summarized here. Initially, drifters designed for oil spill response were intended to remotely track trajectories of accidental spills and help guide responders. Most recently, inexpensive biodegradable drifters were developed for massive deployments, making it possible to significantly improve numerical transport models and to investigate, via observations, the processes leading to dispersion and accumulation of surface pollutants across multiple scales. Over the past 50 years, drifters have benefited from constant improvements in electronics for accurate and frequent location and data transmission, as well as progress in material sciences to reduce fabrication costs and minimize the environmental impact of sacrificial instruments. The large amount of in-situ data provided by drifters, covering a broad area, is crucial to validate the numerical models and remote sensing products that are becoming more important in guiding response and policy decisions.
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Keywords: dispersion; drifter; ocean's surface; oil spill; transport

Document Type: Technical Note

Publication date: November 1, 2018

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  • The Marine Technology Society Journal is the flagship publication of the Marine Technology Society. It publishes the highest caliber, peer-reviewed papers on subjects of interest to the society: marine technology, ocean science, marine policy and education. The Journal is dedicated to publishing timely special issues on emerging ocean community concerns while also showcasing general interest and student-authored works.
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