Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Listening for ocean spills and their ecological effects

17.11.2010
Acoustic technologies for detecting oil in water presented at 2nd Pan-American/Iberian Meeting on Acoustics

Scientists who study acoustics (the "science of sound") have over the years developed a variety of techniques to probe the hidden depths of oceans. This week, many of these acoustic researchers will come together to discuss how these technologies were used to monitor April's Deepwater Horizon oil spill, to present new data on the gusher's ecological impacts, and to highlight new techniques under development that could improve our ability to detect oil in ocean water.

This special session will take place on November 17, 2010 at the 2nd Pan-American/Iberian Meeting on Acoustics, a major conference on the science and technology of acoustics held in Cancun, Mexico.

Some of these researchers will be presenting original data on the spill itself and its environmental impact.

Thomas Weber and colleagues at the University of New Hampshire in Durham and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Alaska Fisheries Science Center and Office of Coast Surveys will talk about Deepwater spill data collected using acoustic technologies originally developed for researching fisheries. For more information on this presentation, see their lay-language paper: http://www.acoustics.org/press/160th/weber.htm

When the deep wellhead burst, Natalia Sidorovskaia of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette found herself in a unique position. As a member of the Littoral Acoustics Demonstration Center of the University of Southern Mississippi, she had been part of a team listening to the waters near this rig for 9 years -- using underwater microphones (hydrophone) to count sperm whales and beaked whales in the area.

"One of our sites was only 9 miles away from the Deepwater Horizon site, said Sidorovskaia.

Thanks to a rapid response award from the National Science Foundation and ship time donated by Greenpeace, Sidorovskaia and two mathematicians were able to revisit to these waters in September and spend a week collecting post-spill data.

By comparing this data to their pre-spill studies, the scientists hope to get an idea of whether the number of whales in the area has changed. They plan to present this new analysis in their talk on November 17.

"Our estimations agree with NOAA's -- about 1,655 sperm whales before the spill," said Sidorovskaia. "If we killed 3 animals in the gulf, it might affect the population in the growth."

Other researchers at the session will present new -- though largely unproven -- ideas for adapting technologies now used to study the structure of the ocean to detect the presence of oil in water as well.

At the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Michael Vera is exploring a technique commonly used to measure temperature gradients in the ocean (ocean-acoustic thermometry) which detects changes in the speed of a sound broadcast through water. Like a lens bending light, ocean water can distort sound in measurable ways that reveal various properties of the ocean.

Vera's computer models, which simulate a Deepwater Horizon-like stream of oil, indicate that the presence of concentrated crude oil should also reveal itself by changing the speed of sound propagation.

"The model suggests that the oil should be detectable near the wellhead," said Vera.

He is working to refine his model with a more realistic simulation of oil that also includes other materials such as methane. Vera has written a lay-language paper about this research, available here: http://www.acoustics.org/press/160th/vera.htm

Mohsen Badiey of the University of Delaware in Newark, Boris Katsnelson of Voronezh University in Russia, and Jim Lynch of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts are investigating another technique used to study the ocean's three-dimensional structure.

Badiey and this team have spent years studying the structure of the ocean near the continental shelf using sound sources and receivers -- ships and moored points that broadcast sound and arrays of sensors in shallow waters that detect the refraction patterns of this sound. Their recent findings reveal that the three-dimensional nature of sound propagation can be used to detect the boundaries of fluids with different indexes of sound refraction.

"This is a rather unusual approach for ocean acoustics," said Lynch. "For almost a century, almost all work has been 2-D slices of sound."

Any kind of stratified front -- gradients of temperature or density -- can cause interferences and perturbations in this sound. Measurements of these interference patterns have recently revealed information about propagating internal waves on the New Jersey continental shelf.

Their preliminary theoretical calculations give them hope that this technique could be adapted to detect oil spills and other liquids in large-scale areas of water up to few thousand square kilometers on the oceanic shelf.

For more information about the session, including several other presentations not described above, see page 24 of the meeting program: http://asa.aip.org/cancun/wednesdayam.pdf

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE 2ND PAN-AMERICAN/IBERIAN MEETING ON ACOUSTICS

The 2nd Pan-American/Iberian Meeting on Acoustics takes place at the Fiesta Americana Grand Coral Beach Hotel in Cancun, Mexico, Monday through Friday, November 15-19, 2010. The Fiesta Americana Grand Coral Beach Hotel is located at Blvd. Kukulcán km. 9.5, Cancún Hotel Zone, Cancún, Q.R., 77500. The hotel's main numbers are +52 (998) 881 32 00 and, toll-free, 1-888-830-9008.

USEFUL LINKS

Main meeting website:
http://asa.aip.org/cancun/cancun.html
Full meeting program:
http://asa.aip.org/cancun/program.html
Searchable index:
http://asa.aip.org/asasearch.html
Hotel site:
http://www.fiestamericanagrand.com/portal/p/es_MX/FAG/FCB/1/0/Availability/showMinisitioM2.do?showContenido=/descripcionhotel/FCBdescripcionhotel_M2.html&idioma=en_MX

WORLD WIDE PRESS ROOM

ASA's World Wide Press Room (www.acoustics.org/press) contains tips on dozens of newsworthy stories and with lay-language papers, which are 300-1200 word summaries of presentations written by scientists for a general audience and accompanied by photos, audio and video.

PRESS REGISTRATION

We will grant free registration to credentialed full-time journalists and professional freelance journalists working on assignment for major news outlets. If you are a reporter and would like to attend, please contact Jason Bardi (jbardi@aip.org, 301-209-3091), who can also help with setting up interviews and obtaining images, sound clips, or background information.

ABOUT THE ACOUSTICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA

The Acoustical Society of America (ASA) is the premier international scientific society in acoustics devoted to the science and technology of sound. Its 7,500 members worldwide represent a broad spectrum of the study of acoustics. ASA publications include The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America -- the world's leading journal on acoustics -- Acoustics Today magazine, books, and standards on acoustics. The society also holds two major scientific meetings each year. For more information about ASA, visit our website at: http://asa.aip.org

Jason Socrates Bardi | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.aip.org

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht SF State astronomer searches for signs of life on Wolf 1061 exoplanet
20.01.2017 | San Francisco State University

nachricht Molecule flash mob
19.01.2017 | Technische Universität Wien

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>