Frequency and Distribution of Natural and Pollutant Organic Sea Slicks.
NAVAL RESEARCH LAB WASHINGTON DC
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Organic sea surface films, both natural and pollutant, modify numerous physical, chemical and biological processes at the air-sea interface. Physical and hydrodynamic effects caused by such surface films influence the signals received by both active and passive remote sensing systems. Thus, knowledge of the frequency and distribution of organic slicks is essential to identify ocean regions where oil and natural organic films are prevalent, especially when remotely sensed data from such areas are to be interpreted. The most influential factors which influence the existence and persistence of natural films at sea include wind velocity and oceanic primary productivity. Global charts of these parameters are presented, and the seasonal variabilities are discussed. The distribution of pollutant petroleum slicks is based on results of a United Nations marine pollution monitoring project, and figures of both global and regional oil spill data are included. In general, natural slicks are mostly likely in biologically rich coastal areas under relatively calm conditions, although visible slicks can occur at any oceanic location if winds are sufficiently calm. Petroleum slicks are most prevalent in regions affected by significant oil tanker and shipping activity. High wind-wave dynamics reduce the probability of the existence of both natural and pollutant films, and such conditions predominate over strong source strengths of the film-forming material in determining the likelihood of slick formation and persistence.
- Biological Oceanography
- Physical and Dynamic Oceanography