A cross-scale numerical modeling system for management support of oil spill accidents

Alberto Azevedo, Anabela Oliveira, André B. Fortunato, Joseph Zhang, António M. Baptista

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


A flexible 2D/3D oil spill modeling system addressing the distinct nature of the surface and water column fluids, major oil weathering and improved retention/reposition processes in coastal zones is presented. The system integrates hydrodynamic, transport and oil weathering modules, which can be combined to offer different-complexity descriptions as required by applications across the river-to-ocean continuum. Features include accounting for different composition and reology in the surface and water column mixtures, as well as spreading, evaporation, water-in-oil emulsification, shoreline retention, dispersion and dissolution. The use of unstructured grids provides flexibility and efficiency in handling spills in complex geometries and across scales. The use of high-order Eulerian-Lagrangian methods allows for computational efficiency and for handling key processes in ways consistent with their distinct mathematical nature and time scales. The modeling system is tested through a suite of synthetic, laboratory and realistic-domain benchmarks, which demonstrate robust handling of key processes and of 2D/3D couplings. The application of the modeling system to a spill scenario at the entrance of a port in a coastal lagoon illustrates the power of the approach to represent spills that occur in coastal regions with complex boundaries and bathymetry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)132-147
Number of pages16
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Coastal pollution
  • Eulerian-Lagrangian methods
  • Oil spill modeling
  • Oil weathering processes
  • Unstructured grids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Pollution


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