The oilspill trajectory movement algorithm consists of a vector sum of the surface drift component due to wind and the surface current component. In the U.S. Geological Survey oilspill trajectory analysis model, the surface drift component is assumed to be 3.5% of the wind speed and is rotated 20 degrees clockwise to account for Coriolis effects in the Northern Hemisphere. Field and laboratory data suggest, however, that the deflection angle of the surface drift current can be highly variable. An empirical formula, based on field observations and theoretical arguments relating wind speed to deflection angle, was used to calculate a new deflection angle at each time step in the model. Comparisons of oilspill contact probabilities to coastal areas calculated for constant and variable deflection angles showed that the model is insensitive to this changing angle at low wind speeds. At high wind speeds, some statistically significant differences in contact probabilities did appear. ?? 1982.
Additional publication details
An oilspill trajectory analysis model with a variable wind deflection angle