Canada: The World Wildlife Fund has now developed an online mapping platform demonstrating what would happen if an oil spill occurred in different regions of the Beaufort Sea. The platform was generated with the help of RPS Applied Science Associates (RPS ASA), an environmental modelling company.
Visitors can not only watch oil spills spread but also see how these spills would overlap with areas important for the health of Arctic species and ecosystems, ultimately affecting the local communities that depend on them for so much. A detailed report on the research too has been published.
In 2013, WWF commissioned RPS ASA to evaluate different types of oil spills originating in the Beaufort Sea. RPS ASA used computer modelling software (Spill Impact Modelling Application) to estimate the spread and fate of future potential oil spills associated with increased ship traffic and offshore petroleum exploration and development in the Beaufort Sea.
Various scenarios were analysed for four types of oil spills – shipping spill, trans-boundary spills, shallow water blowouts and deep water blowouts – resulting in a total of 22 scenarios of unique oil spills, mapping their spread, the potential impact on the water and shoreline, and interaction with the sea ice, wildlife and ecologically significant areas in the region.
Take for instance, the deep blowout option. The demo presents a spill at 1,008m that occurs in autumn, with a spill rate of 60,000 barrels of oil per day. That equates to 7,200,000 barrels over 120 days. The platform also shows how that oil will spill and spread, according to the currents, wind patterns and other local environmental factors.