Wave-induced mixing and transport of buoyant particles: application to the Statfjord A oil spill
This study focuses on how wave–current and wave–turbulence interactions modify the transport of buoyant particles in the ocean. Here the particles can represent oil droplets, plastic particles, or plankton such as fish eggs and larvae. Using the General Ocean Turbulence Model (GOTM), modified to take surface wave effects into account, we investigate how the increased mixing by wave breaking and Stokes shear production, as well as the stronger veering by the Coriolis–Stokes force, affects the drift of the particles. The energy and momentum fluxes, as well as the Stokes drift, depend on the directional wave spectrum obtained from a wave model. As a first test, the depth and velocity scales from the model are compared with analytical solutions based on a constant eddy viscosity (i.e., classical Ekman theory). Secondly, the model is applied to a case in which we investigate the oil drift after an oil spill off the west coast of Norway in 2007. During this accident the average net drift of oil was observed to be both slower and more deflected away from the wind direction than predicted by oil-drift models. In this case, using wind and wave forcing from the ERA Interim archive it is shown that the wave effects are important for the resultant drift and have the potential to improve drift forecasting.