OIL SPILL TRACKING: Recently, scientists and mathematicians at University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill have developed a tool that could track the spread of oil spills—even before they happen. By modeling the surface of the ocean, and factoring in potential wind and weather patterns, scientists can predict where oil that stays on the surface of the water will spread. The researchers hope the modeling tools will help clean-up crews decide where to marshal their resources in the event of a future spill.
ABOUT METHANE: Methane sources such as cows, oceans, wetlands, and natural gas pipes have more impact on the global atmosphere than previously thought. Methane was released along with oil in the Deepwater Horizon spill and even seeps naturally from the floor of the Gulf of Mexico. When methane breaks down chemically in the atmosphere and combines with other chemicals, it produces ozone, atmospheric scientists say. Like methane, ozone is a greenhouse gas, and it is also the main component of smog. Researchers say that even something as simple as tightening a leaky gas pipe can make a difference, reducing the amount of methane released into the atmosphere.