Thursday, August 26, 2010

Supercomputers help track species affected by Gulf oil spill

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April 20, 2010 there was a horrible explosion in the Deep water horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico. The explosion killed 11 platform workers and injured 17 others.But the most dangerous outcome of this explosion was The Deepwater Horizon oil spill (also referred to as the BP oil spill, the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the BP oil disaster or the Macondo blowout).It posed a great threat to lots of unique wild life species residing around the area of explosion. Finally the oil leak was stopped on July 15th by capping the gushing wellhead.But the by the time it stopped, the oil spill had done major harm to the nature.It was estimated that 53,000 barrels per day (8,400 m3/d) were escaping from the well just before it was capped...!!!

Everybody knows the above news.....and you may be wondering what does this has to do with science n technology updates..??!!?? Now let me tell you the updated news on this....

To establish a baseline for measuring and predicting the biological impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, a LSU ichthyologist and an Ohio biomedical informatics researcher are using Ohio Supercomputer Center, or OSC, systems to help map data on the extent of the spill and chemicals and the distribution of various fish species...!!

The spilling of oil may has been stopped now but the effect it is causing to life in the sea has not yet stopped.So the researchers Prosanta Chakrabarty, curator of ichthyology at LSU's Museum of Natural Science and Daniel Janies, associate professor of Biomedical Informatics at The Ohio State University are repurposing a computer application that was designed to track infectious diseases to collect and reinterpret data for oil, dispersants and fish, including those at great depth.

Janies had created applications to track down and monitor to monitor the H1N1 virus -- on a real-time geographic information system.Now they are using a similar type of real time geographic information in order to map the wildlife data like which species' habitats are located in the region of the Gulf affected by the spill over time.which species' habitats are located in the region of the Gulf affected by the spill over time.

the main goal of this project is to find.....
  1. How the expanding spill will affect migrating and spawning organisms that travel through the Gulf. This information will help wildlife officials better manage these situations
  2. Which species of organisms migrating at great depths will be most severely impacted by concentrated plumes of sub-surface oil and dispersant
  3. The interaction between important fisheries and non-commercial and commercial fishes in sites of subsurface oil plumes
  4. How the plumes might affect the life-history stages of different fish species.
As Chakrabarty says ""Although the toxic effects of oil and dispersants and how they break down with sunlight are well understood, their effects below the surface are not known.Oil and dispersants break down in contact with sunlight and the rich microbial community of the warm waters near the surface. However, the deep sea is very cold, under high pressure and extremely dark. We don't know how oil and dispersants break down under these conditions, but evidence suggests that it will be incredibly slow."

Lets hope this project becomes a success and hence save millions of innocent species which are facing horrible deaths because of our mistake.
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