ESA: Gulf oil spill reaches Loop Current

May 19, 2010 at 12:54 PM   |   Comments

1 of 2
| License Photo
PARIS, May 19 (UPI) -- The European Space Agency says satellite images confirm the oil spill from last month's Gulf of Mexico oil drilling disaster has entered the Loop Current.

The current is a powerful conveyor belt of water that flows around the gulf toward Florida.

"With these images from space, we have visible proof that at least oil from the surface of the water has reached the current," said Bertrand Chapron at the French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea. Chapron and colleague Fabrice Collard said they've combined surface roughness and current flow information with images from the ESA's Envisat satellite to monitor the proximity of the oil to the current.

"Now that oil has entered the Loop Current, it is likely to reach Florida within six days," Chapron said, warning that since the Loop Current is a very intense, deep ocean current, its turbulent waters will accelerate the mixing of the oil and water in the coming days.

"This might remove the oil film on the surface and prevent us from tracking it with satellites, but the pollution is likely to affect the coral reef marine ecosystem," Collard said.

The ESA said the Loop Current joins the Gulf Stream -- the Northern Hemisphere's most important ocean-current system -- sparking fears that oil could be carried up the U.S. East Coast.

© 2010 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
Recommended UPI Stories
Featured UPI Collection
2014: The Year in Music [PHOTOS]

2014: The Year in Music [PHOTOS]

Most Popular
Mars rover spots rock shaped like thigh bone
Birds lost their sweet tooth, hummingbirds got it back
Parched land in the drought-riddled West is actually rising
Tech industry All Stars developing 'Star Trek'-style communication badges
Fish can smell a bad coral reef
Trending News