The TOSCA project observational network that was set up in five high-risk areas has showed that data from radars can provide real-time visibility of coastal surface currents. HF radars are the only way to obtain a relatively large coverage of surface currents (spatial and temporal resolution). The contribution of this data gives additional accuracy to the numerical forecasting models currently in use by improving the initial conditions. An important data set has been obtained during the in-situ campaigns, very diverse according to the configuration of the coast and the winds and currents of the area. This data set is accessible through the geographical Information system developed by the project: “TOSCA GIS”.
While very common in the United States, the use of radars for observing surface currents is still quite new in Europe. A better knowledge of surface currents does significantly improve capacities for tracking drift pathways. Moreover, HF radars observations can improve the model initial conditions, can complement the daytime satellite and aerial monitoring, and can be used as ground truth for backtracking calculations.
During the experiments, TOSCA partners attested that drifters could supply crucial data on currents and on the transport of oil-spills. The evaluation of different designs of drifters has emphasized the most suitable type to be used according to the operation (oil-spill or S&R). Moreover, an optimal deployment of groups of several floating buoys provides direct information on dispersion and how long it takes for a slick to double in size. In that sense, drifters could enable authorities to focus search or cleanup operations within a more clearly defined area in the case of a maritime accident.
The drifters are a convenient and inexpensive mean of action, complementary to radar. Drifters can be released easily in the water, both by ship and by aircraft. Drifters provide information on the current and direct information on transport and the relative dispersion of an oil spill.
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