Scientific management of Mediterranean coastal zone: A hybrid ocean forecasting system for oil spill and search and rescue operations

A. Jordi*, M. I. Ferrer, G. Vizoso, A. Orfila, G. Basterretxea, B. Casas, A. Álvarez, D. Roig, B. Garau, M. Martínez, V. Fernández, A. Fornés, M. Ruiz, J. J. Fornós, P. Balaguer, C. M. Duarte, I. Rodríguez, E. Alvarez, R. Onken, P. OrfilaJ. Tintoré

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


The oil spill from Prestige tanker showed the importance of scientifically based protocols to minimize the impacts on the environment. In this work, we describe a new forecasting system to predict oil spill trajectories and their potential impacts on the coastal zone. The system is formed of three main interconnected modules that address different capabilities: (1) an operational circulation sub-system that includes nested models at different scales, data collection with near-real time assimilation, new tools for initialization or assimilation based on genetic algorithms and feature-oriented strategic sampling; (2) an oil spill coastal sub-system that allows simulation of the trajectories and fate of spilled oil together with evaluation of coastal zone vulnerability using environmental sensitivity indexes; (3) a risk management sub-system for decision support based on GIS technology. The system is applied to the Mediterranean Sea where surface currents are highly variable in space and time, and interactions between local, sub-basin and basin scale increase the non-linear interactions effects which need to be adequately resolved at each one of the intervening scales. Besides the Mediterranean Sea is a complex reduced scale ocean representing a real scientific and technological challenge for operational oceanography and particularly for oil spill response and search and rescue operations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)361-368
Number of pages8
JournalMarine pollution bulletin
Issue number5-7
StatePublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work has been partially supported by ESEOO (VEM2003-20577-C14-08) and CORMORAN (REN2003-07787-C02-01) projects funded by CICYT and MFSTEP (EVK3-CT-2002-00175), SOFT (EVK3-CT-2000-00028) and MERSEA (SIP3-CT-2003-502885) projects funded by European Commission (D. G. Research). Support from the Conselleria d’Interior del Govern de les Illes Balears and UGIZC project, is also gratefully acknowledged.


  • Currents
  • Mediterranean Sea
  • Oil spill
  • Operational oceanography
  • Risk assessment
  • Search and rescue

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Pollution


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