Cook Inlet RCAC’s goals include collecting observational data to improve our understanding of Cook Inlet’s oceanography and to more accurately predict the potential movement of spilled oil under various weather conditions. To date, we have:

  • Developed oil spill trajectory model software that predicts behavior of a hypothetical oil spill. The model takes into account the complex shape, bathymetry, tidal currents, and weather of Cook Inlet and allows the user to enter various spill sizes and weather conditions.
  • Conducted detailed seasonal surveys of hydrography at the major entrances or boundaries of Cook Inlet to better understand the seasonal influences on Cook Inlet of the Alaska Coastal Current and upper Inlet freshwater influx.
  • Conducted Acoustic Doppler Current Profile surveys, released and tracked satellite drifter buoys, released drift cards, and deployed high frequency (HF) surface current radars to better understand surface and sub-surface currents in Cook Inlet.
  • Sponsored two physical oceanographic workshops, in 1999 and 2005, to ensure that researchers and modelers were coordinating their studies and incorporating best data into oil spill and plume transport models.
  • Developed the first Cook Inlet Ocean Observing System proposal as a component of the larger Alaska Ocean Observing System (AOOS).
  • Demonstrated for the first time in Alaska that HF Radar can be deployed in emergency situations and that the near real-time data could be incorporated into NOAA’s oil spill trajectory model for oil spill response.