Title: CONsortium for oil spill exposure pathways in COastal River-Dominated Ecosystems
Funding Agency/Contractor: Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative
Duration:  January 2015 - December 2017
Background: Quantifying toxicant exposure from the Oil and Dispersant System (ODS, the chemically or naturally created microscopic droplets of oil and any associated chemical dispersant) is one of the critical goals of oil spill recovery efforts, both in terms of long term environmental restoration and mandated damage assessment. Following Deepwater Horizon (DWH), scientific effort was focused on understanding deep sub-surface modes of ODS transport and chemical change as it related to organism exposure. Ironically, little understanding of sub-surface exposure exists for the more productive nearshore and coastal environments.

CONCORDE, the CONsortium for oil spill exposure pathways in COastal River- Dominated Ecosystems, will expressly address how complex fine-scale structure and processes in coastal waters dominated by pulsed-river plumes control the exposure, impacts, and ecosystem recovery from offshore spills like the Deepwater Horizon release of 2010.
The Southern Miss-led consortium consists of the Division of Marine Science located at Stennis Space Center and the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in Ocean Springs with seven research partners:   Mississippi State University,  Rutgers University,  Oregon State University,  Dauphin Island Sea Lab, Old Dominion University, and the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory.
The Fisheries Oceanography and Ecology Lab at GCRL is excited to be collaborating with Dr. Monty Graham (USM, Marine Sciences) and Dr. Robert Cowen (OSU, Hatfield Marine Science Center) and their respective labs on the CONCORDE plankton component. To examine plankton distributions related to complex coastal hydrography, we will address the following hypotheses:

This research will combine new, cutting-edge plankton imaging technology, along with traditional plankton net tows to generate distributional data that will be integrated with oceanographic models to better understand ODS exposure pathways in river-dominated coastal ecosystems.