What Happens When an Oil Spill Occurs?
ES0703  Identification and Description
OR&R, NOS, NOAA
The glimmer or sheen of oil spilled by the Exxon Valdez.

In addition to using models to predict where the oil will go, another important part of responding to an oil spill involves tracking its actual location and describing what it looks like. As oil spreads, it takes on different properties. Accurate descriptions of the floating oil can prepare responders to deal with it in the most effective manner.

In this image, the oil has spread out in a very thin layer called an oil slick. By observing oil spills from the air, responders can map the distribution and properties of the floating oil.


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