Saturday, May 29, 2010

Unanswered questions abou the oil spill

I've been working in New Orleans the past few days and it's clear that we're in uncharted territory when it comes to this story. Beyond the obvious stuff about ways to plug the leak, I'm just wondering how hurricane season is going to be affected by the spill... along with some other stuff I've not seen discussed.

If your station does environmental stories or if you're a meteorologist who knocks out an occasional package, these might be some topics to explore.

Since most oil floats on top of water, and hurricanes need evaporating water for energy, will a large oil slick keep water from evaporating and therefore stall a hurricane? Or would the hurricane plow through it and scatter drops of oily water several miles inland?

How does the oil affect the heating of seawater? (The warmer the water, the better for hurricane development.) Does crude oil absorb sunlight faster than water? Will it then heat the water underneath faster, or keep it cooler?

What are the respiratory and other health aspects of vacationing close to an oil spill?

What are the real differences between crude oil and motor oil?

Since shrimp are bottom dwellers, are they somewhat protected from the oil until it is cleaned up? (Full disclosure... got that one from a guy at the fish market.)

This is a story that won't go away for awhile, so look for new angles. I'm sure there are plenty more along with those I've listed.

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