This project, funded by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI), is a collaborative effort between the University of Southern Mississippi (Monty Graham, Alan Shiller, Jerry Wiggert, Frank Hernandez, Stephan Howden, Robert Arnone), the Naval Research Laboratory (Jeff Book, Gregg Jacobs, Alan Weidemann), the University of New Brunswick (Ian Church), Oregon State University (Robert Cowen, Jim Moum), the University of South Alabama (Brian Dzwonkowski), Mississippi State University (Pat Fitzpatrick), Old Dominion University (Eileen Hofmann) and Rutgers University (Oscar Schofield).
Quantifying toxicant exposure from the Oil and Dispersant System (ODS, the chemically or naturally created microscopic droplets of oil and any associated chemical dispersant) is one of the critical goals of oil spill recovery efforts, both in terms of long-term environmental restoration and mandated damage assessment. CONCORDE, the CONsortium for oil spill exposure pathways in COastal River- Dominated Ecosystems, will expressly address how complex fine-scale structure and processes in coastal waters dominated by pulsed-river plumes control the exposure, impacts, and ecosystem recovery from offshore spills like the Deepwater Horizon release of 2010.
In a comprehensive Education and Outreach Program, CONCORDE will utilize its scientists and research activities to 1) engage specific public audiences, including teachers and culturally diverse fishers, in conducting and sharing the results of scientific inquiry; 2) communicate research results to the broader public audience via community meetings, a website and public presentations; and 3) assess the level of trust in science among members of the public and the degree of success of this project in improving trust.
“Our primary emphasis is on near-shore waters in the northern Gulf of Mexico and how rivers influence the transport, fate and toxicity of oil as it interacts with coastal waters and biology,” said Graham. “Deepwater Horizon revealed many surprises including formation of deep plumes and impacts to wetlands. One of the major missing linkages is how oil interacted with the nearshore environment around the large river inputs of the north central Gulf.”
CONCORDE will help fulfill GoMRI’s mission of using rigorous science and advanced technologies as means for improving fundamental understanding of the dynamics of oil, dispersed oil and dispersant and their environmental stresses. The integration and synthesis of CONCORDE research will advance the understanding of how coastal marine ecosystems respond to, and recover from, large-magnitude oiling events.