If It Was My Home - Visualizing the BP Oil Spill
About The Spill
An explosion on the BP operated Deepwater Horizon oil rig killed eleven crew members on April 20, 2010, sparking the greatest environmental disaster in United States history. In combination with the Texas City Refinery Explosion and the Prudohoe Bay Oil Spill, this marks the third serious incident involving BP in the United States in the last five years. Current estimates put the amount of oil being discharged from the broken well at above 1,470,000 US gallons per day! There are over 400 different species of animals living in the area affected by the spill. 403 sea turtles and 46 dolphins have been found dead within the spill area (NOAA). BP is operating oil skimmers and other cleanup tools to try to remove oil from the water and Louisiana is building oil containment berms to halt the spread of oil. Experts are uncertain what effect, if any, these efforts will have.
What Can You Do?
- Talk. First, share this map with your friends so they can understand the impact as well. Next, write to your Representatives and Senators and share your feelings about this disaster.
- Think. The EPA is soliciting ideas for possible technology solutions to aid in the oil spill response efforts. Submit your idea. You can also visit the clever inventors over at GulfClean.org and help them build their crowdsourced technology for oil cleanup.
- Volunteer. Lousiana and Florida are both looking for volunteers to help in cleanup and prevention. If you have a boat and live or work on the gulf coast, you can participate in the Vessels of Opportunity program where BP will pay you to take part in oil skimming operations.
- Donate The National Wildlife Foundation and International Bird Rescue are accepting donations for coastal relief. Matter of Trust is also collecting hair to be bundled into booms. Hair absorbs oil even better than the synthetic materials being used. You can find a participating hair salon or barbershop at their site.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you know how big the spill is?
The data used to create the spill image comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NOAA releases a daily report detailing where the spill is going to be within the next 24 hours. They do this by collecting data from a number of sources, including satellite imagery and reports by trained observers who have made helicopter flights back and forth across the potentially affected areas. This data is entered into several leading computer models by NOAA oceanographers along with information about currents and winds in the gulf.
Why does the spill seem to change size as I move it?
If you move the spill south of the gulf, without crossing the equator, you'll see it appear to shrink in size. If you move it North, it will appear to increase in size. The spill actually covers the same area on the map no matter where you place it, what changes is the map itself! Google Maps, and many maps we're used to looking at, use something called "Mercator Projection" in order to draw the spherical surface of the earth onto a flat plane. This projection distorts space as you move away from the equator in order to make the nice flat map you see. This means that a 100 square mile object placed at the equator will appear much smaller on the map than the same object placed closer to the poles. If you think about it, this makes sense -- if you were to wrap a string around the globe, you would need much more string to do so at the equator than you would further North, yet Google Maps portrays the Earth as a rectangle. You can read more about Mercator Projection on Wikipedia.
Shouldn't the name of your site be ifitWEREmyhome.com?
How often is this map updated?
Usually at least once per day. You can find the date it was last updated at the bottom of the page.
Is the oil really hurting anything?Oil Spill Map Data Courtesy Of The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Data Last Updated: 6/24/2010