Influence of the oceanographic conditions during spring 2003 on the transport of the Prestige tanker fuel oil to the Galician coast

X A Alvarez-Salgado, J L Herrera, J Gago, P Otero, J A Soriano, C G Pola, C García-Soto
Marine Pollution Bulletin 2006, 53 (5): 239-49
Hydrographic data collected during the cruise HIDROPRESTIGE were combined with meteorological and dynamic data provided by remote sensors and drifting/moored buoys, to describe the surface circulation of the Northern Iberian basin in March-April 2003. Sea surface winds transported the floating Prestige oil slicks from the sinking area to the continental slope off the Rías Baixas in 1/2 month: the surface current intensity was 2% of the wind intensity and it was rotated clockwise 5 degrees from the wind direction. Mesoscale cyclonic and anticyclonic structures west of 10 degrees W increased the residence time of oil patches in the Northern Iberian basin, as compared with the expected southwards flow of the Iberian current (IC). On the other hand, the Iberian poleward current (IPC) formed a marked surface front with coastal waters, preventing the entry of fuel oil into the rías. PAHs in the surface layer during the cruise were <0.5 microgL(-1), except in the Galicia bank (approximately 1 microg L(-1); where the Prestige tanker was still leaking) and the vicinity of Cape Fisterra (approximately 1.5 microg L(-1); where the convergence front between the IPC and coastal waters vanished).

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