Doomsday Scenario: Could the Oil Spill Reach Europe?

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Experts seem confident that the oil spill will hit Florida, and then proceed to race up East Coast. But then what? (via Discovery)

It was a jaw dropping video to watch Friday afternoon: The National Center for Atmospheric Research computer model, showing just how easily the oil in the Gulf will slip into the loop current, and arc around Florida within the next month.

But while it was the possibility of South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia being inundated with oil that sparked conversation late last week, less discussed was the uncertainty of what would happen once all that oil flows north past New York and Canada, and is eventually ejected into the open Atlantic.

Discovery.com quoted German researcher Martin Visbeck as saying “Our assumption is that the enormous lateral mixing in the ocean together with the biological disintegration of the oil should reduce the pollution to levels below harmful concentrations.”

But that assumption has yet to be backed up by any quantitative analysis, and Visbeck also said that some scientists have been asked about the potential risk of oil reaching European shores.

A worst case scenario? Probably. But the NCAR video did put into stark relief the interconnected currents of the Earth’s oceans, and just how quickly a regional problem in the Gulf of Mexico could spread to the Northeast, the mid-Atlantic ocean, and the European continent.

There are many questions still lingering out there – about the rate of oil leakage, the time it will take to fully drill a relief well, and the yet-to-be-realized impact of the oil on the Gulf shore. Now add one other concern to the list: Millions of gallons of oil, churning through the Atlantic, final destination unknown.

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