Estonian researchers to fight oil spills in arctic conditions
Researchers of the University of Tartu (UT) and Tallinn University of Technology (TUT), together with international partners, received a 5.28 million euro support from the European Union for project GRACE. The aim of the project is to develop a strategic expert system and a decision support system to respond to oil spills in arctic conditions and ice–covered seas.
UT Professor of Ecotechnology Jaak Truu said that that the work encompasses the different aspects of responding to oil pollutions in the sea, starting from the discovery of the spill and monitoring its spread to the various technologies for eliminating pollution and the environmental effects of the response methods.
TUT Senior Research Fellow of Marine Systems Tarmo Kõuts added that this is done by implementing methods to evaluate the extent of the oil spill, from implementing the most effective mitigation measures to cost–benefit analysis to enable the optimal use of available resources to respond to oil spills in open water and ice.
The project will improve the methods and technologies for monitoring and forecasting the spread of oil in the sea environment by using novel smart sensors and real–time measurement technologies on vessels, buoys, hydroplanes (gliders) and other autonomous platforms. The aim is to improve awareness of the situation in the immediate region of the oil spill.
Researchers will also test the mechanical and chemical methods for eliminating oil spills in arctic conditions, the northern region of the Atlantic Ocean near Greenland, and in the Baltic Sea.
The project will also research the impact of dispersed oil or oil dispersed by chemicals, the waste from on–site burning, and uncollected oil on fish, invertebrate (bivalvia, shellfish) and macroalgae. This is done by high–sensitivity biomarker methods.
Together a new measurement technology will be developed—biosensors which quickly detect the summarised effect of the oil spill on the marine biota.
The main aim of the project is to analyse and develop integral methods for responding to oil spills in Arctic waters. The project begins in March 2016.
Project GRACE is funded from the European Union research and development framework programme Horizon 2020. Estonian researchers lead two of the six fields of the project. TUT leads “Discovering and monitoring marine oil spills” and UT leads “Biodegradation and biohealing of marine oil spills”.
The international consortium of the project includes 13 partners from eight research institutions and five companies from Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Greenland, Norway, Germany, Spain, Canada and Estonia.
Additional information: Tarmo Kõuts, TUT Senior Research Fellow of Marine Systems, tel. 51 09 744, e–mail: tarmo.kouts [ät] msi.ttu.ee;
Jaak Truu, UT Professor of Ecotechnology, tel. 737 6842, e–mail: jaak.truu [ät] ut.ee.