Coastal frontal systems as a pollutant control mechanism for offshore energy production.




Lewis, J.K.

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Science Application, Incorporated


A surface core of fresher water from the Mississippi Delta region is advected along the Texas coast due to longshore wind stress and can form a strong frontal zone 10-30 km offshore of an area where much oil and gas production occurs. Coastal fronts are environmentally important since the surface convergences that occur at the boundary of the dissimilar water types are capable of affecting the dispersal of spilled pollutants. This front can be considered as a buffer between offshore pollutant spills and the tourist-attractive coasts of Texas. The front can dominate the nearshore environment for much of the year, and historical wind stress data indicate that it could be expected along the upper Texas coast from September through April. The mechanism which supports the frontal zone is discussed, and the results indicate that other as of yet undetected fronts may exist in areas close to river outflows. The flow regimes of the front are presented, the knowledge of which would allow private and government agencies to better plan contingencies for handling spills from offshore energy production or transport.


p. 389-396.


coastal zone, pollution control, pollution, oil spills, oil pollution, chemical pollution