Talking with NOAA Scientist Amy Merten about her time chairing the Arctic Council’s Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response working group.
As rising temperatures and thinning ice in the Arctic create openings for increased human activities, it also increases the potential for oil spills and chemical releases into the remote environment of the region.
This time, the key player was an enthusiastic black Labrador retriever named Pepper. This project is to validate and better understand the capabilities of trained oil detection canines to locate and delineate subsurface stranded oil. The results of the study have a high probability of immediate, short-term applications and long-term real benefits in the design and implementation of shoreline cleanup and assessment technique surveys for stranded oil.
The Arctic is one of the most remote regions on the planet but that may change as the sea ice continues to shrink, allowing for more ships, tourism, fishing, and possible oil exploration in the region. More activity also brings the possibility of oil spills and other environmental disasters.
Oil spills come in all sizes from a pleasure boat’s small leak, to an oil platform explosion that results in environmental devastation, like the 2010 Deepwater Horizon incident.
Every month our Emergency Response Division provides scientific expertise and services to the U.S. Coast Guard on everything from running oil spill trajectories to where the spill may spread, to possible effects on wildlife and fisheries, and estimates on how long the oil may stay in the environment. Our Incident News website has information on oil spills and other incidents where we provided scientific support.